Thursday, June 07, 2012

moving on

I've been away for a while.

Knowing that my personality type needs sometimes, the periods of self-imposed isolation where I can crystallize my thoughts.

This blog has been a good one of sharing my hopes, fears and dreams.

Some of my dreams are coming true, and I'm truly happy to say that at this age in time, I have lived quite a full life, trying not to be boring =)

I have migrated slowly to a travel-themed blog of sorts, though I will still write some sentimental and lovelorn stuff from time to time, it needs some outlet!

Dear friends who are here, please continue reading about my life on


Thank you for your time and encouragement.


Monday, April 09, 2012

the value of.

I've learnt to live a little, the kind of 'lifestyle' I've always wanted, that includes:

Eating olives (makes me happy!) Else, bubble tea gives the same temporary high...but I guess olives goes a longer way. And I'm unsure if it's my imagination but it does give me better skin. Either that or the Korean type sheet mask with 'My Melody' cartoon on the packaging that does it...

Doing more artistic stuff (Went to see the Warhol exhibition, also, 'Wicked!', not really into musicals but it was a nice day out.)

Still reading non-fiction, trying to squeeze in as much reading time during lunch breaks and before going to sleep...

Having a mocha on Friday evenings (Reason being, I can't sleep well after caffeine, but I love coffee, so, sleeping late on a Friday night, I can accomplish many things too. Whee.) And it's nice to catch a friend in that cosy coffee place I love.

I've also learnt that I am quite a procastinator and I am quite led by colorful stuffs, namely, clothes. (Oh, H&M...)

I've also learnt that...
Sometimes, what I want may be what I wanted but not what I will want.

Actually, I'm trying to be not-at-all proactive and see what Life throws my way and some of the surprises are pretty good, I must say. Well, I had initiative in some sense, but still, trying to be as honest and open as I can. I do have people judging me constantly but am trying to take it all in with a smile.

Was talking about how some people are 'hard to read' and heck, I can't even read myself at times... ... so how to 'read' others... heh heh. Meanwhile I am obsessed with typifying people and categorizing people into stereotypes. I am often happily proven wrong but continue on this path stubbornly.

So here are my short-term goals:

1. Save money to travel.
(by not buying clothes. Avoid malls like the plague. And not buying 'meat' in economy rice...)In fact, making people treat me to stuff. I am actually naturally gifted in this. People give me free things all the time.

2. Learn Czech.
Been at it for months actually, but reached a very basic plateau. So now frustrating myself with spanish songs (They are lovely!) and trying to translate them without anyone to tell me if it makes sense or not. People say I have a natural tongue to pronounce european sounding languages so I should make the best of it =)... kdyz... prstu...

3. Go Travel.
I am so lucky that the only thing holding me back is the lack of money because I realised that I can quit my job anytime and find back a similar job anytime that pays me about the same. Such is IT recruitment. (I did not say it pays well.)

And why do I want to... travel more, for instance.
Well, I realised the value of an interesting life.
And people who set goals are way more interesting than those who don't.

So this is a note from present me to future me (sometime later this year.)

I hope I remember what I set out to do!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The parts of ourselves we keep hidden from others

I was just thinking and having an introspective moment. There's a simple beauty of having someone to ask you about your day... and also asking someone 'how's your day'... I can talk nonsense to a lot of people but sometimes I share like I don't give a damn. I can text more coherently than speak, so sometimes strangers who stumbled upon my words know me more than the ones that I see frequently.

And there's no one person that we can share whole-heartedly to. Like, everything, every little thing. I have no explanation for that. Maybe we wanted the so-called 'soulmate' to see us in a better light. So we keep the maybe-bitchy thoughts to ourselves. The scandalous behavior we only share to a select few, just to keep our consciences clear. The things we have observed and always wanted to point out; but being a 'mature adult', we stay silent... or perhaps respond later. Some people don't know how to respond later. Respond later, lah... I always needed someone to tell me how good it is, because sometimes, I've forgotten to appreciate the (free) things in life. Why did we become like this?

There has been someone on my mind, someone I think about everyday for some time now.
I didn't want to be the pining damsel in distress, so I tried my best to forget him. Afterall, by certain actions it proves he does not have as much of me in his mind as I have of him. That sucks, yes, but it also means I have accepted the reality (and not living in a delusion, though I wonder which is preferable, at times...) But I am forgetful (and thus the urge to want to document everything)... and too soon, I have forgotten to think about him daily. It took someone else to come here to make me forget, and maybe I am using the person like a pet puppy, and maybe I feel terribly guilty about such, but the simple beauty of it, is that we just needed someone in our lives to ask, how was your day. That's all. Like a huge puppy that keeps smiling at you and then tugging and pushing at you till you hurt or fall over, but the large braun eyes make sure you will not be able to find it in your heart to be angry at this thing. That's all. And then we will go on our own ways in the world, happily, forgetfully.

However. Sometimes someone still comes floating on a cloud like a bad dream, almost in front of my face. And then I get bad tempered for no reason. I start to jerk in my wakefulness. My eyes take on a sad look that says, make up your mind once and for all. Didn't you say, albeit cheesily, to him, that you wanted to find 'someone like you'? Until one day finally, you start filing the virtual silence with some upset words, perhaps, just to fill the silence, perhaps, just to see a reaction. He messaged back. I don't know what to say to make you feel better. I don't know what to say to that message.

One day, I will write a story about you.
I wish nothing but the best for you, too.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sunset remembered yesterday

I was having a BAD DAY yesterday. In the recent spate of bad days, I was getting used to the feeling of just wanting to hide under the covers and not talk nor eat and mindlessly scroll through twitter and fb updates. It isn't so bad really, I have been on some small adventures, done things I'd never imagined I would, became quite fit actually, despite living on pratas and coffee... and increasingly being addicted to a guy with a super smiley-face who makes me laugh to no end.

But then I remembered a sunset I saw 2 weeks ago, the sunset on my birthday. I had organized a gathering of some old classmates, something in the past I would never have thought to do. I thought it was quite meaningful, and indeed, I was happy to see some I had not seen for more than 10 years. It spawned another outing the next week for other classmates who had wanted to meet but could not make it, so I was really happy I did this. Then, I went to changi coastal walk. I had only been there once in twilight and wanted to see how it looks like in the daylight.

With the smiley-faced friend I went, and at that point of time, the sun was setting, and I was blown away at how a sunset in Singapore could be so magical. There were brown rocks all around us, with small boats and yachts slowly bobbing nearby, the pathway had lovely wooden dividers chained together, and the sun shone through the clouds, streaming through a golden glow, with streaks of gold on the water, and the silhouette of coconut trees framing the entire scene. It was so perfect, such a perfect moment. I had almost forgotten about it (Took photos, but the film's expired, so I hope it turns out well), until yesterday. It was one of my deepest wishes to see a beautiful sunset, something a bit romantic, something uplifting. And it was so perfect I could not believe it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

on hiatus, still

Lately, I have been going on some small adventures.

For the first time as an adult in Singapore, last week, I took out Mom's bicycle for a ride around my nice, frenchified neighborhood (the only cyclists ARE French.)
I hit a wall, got some bits of it into my elbow, and bruised my leg. But just feeling the breeze on my neck... and the taste of a little adventure makes me smile inside.

Last Saturday, I organized an event for the first time. It was just a Saturday brunch and I wanted it to be a small cosy outing. I met a girl the previous Saturday and we both arranged to meet at an aussie brunch place where they had vegemite, poached eggs, pancakes and not to mention a stunning view of the city! We ended up going to an obscure art exhibition which was really good, and then having coffee and just connecting for those hours. One of the girls there had a red notebook exactly like my journal, my journal that accompanied me when the going gets rough. I told her I had one exactly like hers and she said a story about it, that it wasn't the brand I was using, but it was made by a couple and she used it as a sketchbook.

Curious, I leafed through it.

In the back pocket, there was a map of a region I wanted to visit, and another map of yonderland! Mystery Guy's country. Of course, I took out my camera and started to snap photos of it. The girl was intrigued at my excitement at, to her, a normal looking map. She asked me why was it important to me. 'Why is this important to you?'

After hearing what I said, she gave me the map. That was the best part of my day! I was filled with joy to receive this map!
Now, I have a map of yonderland that fits exactly into my red notebook.
Sometimes when you go on adventures, you never know what it's going to bring you =)

Monday, January 16, 2012

I needed a hug...

I'm facing a bit of a pessimistic ending to the romance of last year. Mystery Guy seems to be wavering, and as it is, I know I'll miss the way I can be truthful about what I'm feeling to him, miss the way we neurotically enjoy some types of food, the essence of 'us', that seems but an impossible dream.

As always, I urged him to only remember the happy moments.
It was a rainy day, a long day we spent together, from visiting some rentals, to enjoying an exhibition, a little adventure on the luge, and ending with me falling ill with nauseated throwing up. =(

The happiest part of that day was, for me, when, after lunch, we had to traverse the road from the foodcourt to the exhibition...and as it was drizzling, he suddenly whipped out his newspaper and folded a paper hat for me, so that I wouldn't get wet.
I folded one for him too.
And we both wore our paper hats to the MRT toilet and all (knowing there's about 40 cameras watching our every move)... of course, lots of people looked, but we didn't care, we were in our imaginary world, where everyone wore paper hats to protect ourselves from the rain.

I was trying to remember, from Thursday, the best part of my day. I was very sad our happy times had to end when reality bites.

At this time, I was reading John Eldredge/Stasi Eldredge 'Wild at Heart / Captivating', J had lent it to me a month back. I was reading the part where John asked God for a whale (he wanted to see it at the sea) and he saw one, and Stasi asked God for something to show that He loved her, too. And God gave her a small starfish and more. I went, 'wow'... in these sad moments, the thing I wanted most was a hug from God.

So I just said a silent prayer that I wanted to feel a hug from God.

And for the next few days, I received things beyond my imagination... that only God knows I would appreciate! I really did not expect that each day, there would be something to look forward to... and I am overwhelmed.

God knows I love coffee... and there was a barista I knew from a long time ago who was the caterer for an event I attended on Friday. It was lovely of him, and unexpected, that he personally did this coffee for me, as his treat! He was the main key person for this event but he took time off to do it for me. Plus it was perfect - hazelnut + vanilla, not too sweet, milky and strong... =)

I had visited this shopkeeper uncle's shop for many years but never bought anything, it is some sort of retro display and for collectors to buy jukeboxes, old fridges, etc. When he saw me, we had a good chat, and suddenly he excitedly told me he wanted to give me something, he took a bunch of glass animals out... wanted to represent my birthyear, but there wasn't any dog, so he just chose something and pressed it into my hand. It was this tiny glass owl! God really knows why I need an owl =) I was so touched! Of course it is probably inexpensive, etc... but... wow.

Sunday, I had half an hour to wait at ECP, so I just chose a spot near the central beach area, alone, with a myriad of thoughts. As I was getting up to leave I realized that while I was there a super tiny baby coconut had dropped directly in front of me. It was unbelievably cute! It brought a smile on my face... and I'm sure it did to many others on my facebook where I posted it =).

Today, I had spent a long day out touring the city, and there was nothing remotely resembling a hug from God. Ah, I thought, maybe not everyday. In fact, I was aching so much to contact Mystery Guy to tell him random stuff.

I found this postcard for me! Sent by a random japanese... My heart skipped a beat when I saw it. I have received over 80 postcards, but never ever a lop rabbit one! And God knows I hold this rabbit close to my heart. Plus, there was an encouragement written behind...'gan ba rou nippon', telling me not to give up (actually, the true meaning is telling the japanese tsunami victims not to give up)... and if they, who have been through so much suffering, did not give up, how could I?


This story continues... ...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Out of the Darkness, Modern Love

THERE was a time when my wife, Giulia, said “Yes” to almost everything I suggested. But before she consented, there was always an unnatural pause, a pause so small it may have gone unnoticed by others. But it was painfully obvious to me. That pause did not come from her; it came from the antipsychotic medication she had to take.

Two years ago, when Giulia and I were 27 and in our third year of marriage, she suffered a psychotic break. She had no history of mental illness preceding the abrupt arrival of delusions and paranoia. It was a bewildering decline that snowballed from typical work stress to mild depression to sleeplessness to voices speaking to her in the night.

The medicine combated the psychosis by slowing everything down: her metabolism, movements and response time. I didn’t like what the medicine did to her, but I liked even less what her unmedicated self was like and capable of doing, so I gave her the medicine. I observed her as she took it, making sure she did not hide it in her mouth and spit it out later. She still managed to do that a few times anyway.

To try to make sense of why she had to live in this medicated haze, I thought of her condition as being like an old television, the type where you have to turn the dial to change the channels. For some reason, Giulia had become stuck between channels, so all that was broadcasting in her mind was crackly white noise, and it drove her mad, right into the halls of a psychiatric ward.

The medicine was like turning down the volume. It was what had to be done until the channels could work again. And while the volume was turned down, her entire life was on mute. She wasn’t psychotic, she wasn’t delusional, she just kind of wasn’t.

She didn’t communicate much when she was on the medicine. When she did, it was mostly just “Yes” or “No.” More often than not, it was “Yes,” because I think she wanted to make me happy. If we had to go through this hell, she at least wanted to be agreeable. During this time I thought of her as the Great Validator.

The fact that she did not speak much also meant that I spoke a lot, about silly things, things that filled the silence so that I could try to keep her mind here with me, and not adrift in her illness.

But occasionally she spoke on her own, without prompting, and beyond “Yes” or “No.” Those rare moments of self-initiated conversation were always about one of two subjects: suicide or love.

The suicide conversations were never fun. They happened over and over. Out of nowhere, in the midst of one of our agreed-upon dog walks, or while washing the dishes or whatever, often as I talked about something insignificant, Giulia would interrupt and say, “Mark, if someone kills themselves, do they still get a funeral?”

Long pause on my part. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I know that if you kill yourself you go to hell. But does that mean they don’t let you have a funeral? Do you still get a funeral if you’re going to hell?”

“We don’t have to think about that, Giulia, because you’re not going to kill yourself.”


“No ‘maybe’ about it.”

“We’ll see.”

She’d smile. Thoughts of suicide tended to make her smile, like she was a little child being told you can have your ice cream later. It was something to look forward to.

When suicidal thoughts made her happy, I knew it was my cue to remind her of other reasons to feel happy. So I told her I loved her. And that so many other people loved her, too. That she was so strong for holding on. That none of this was her fault. That the feelings would go away. That she just had to keep holding on.

These suicidal conversations could be quick or they could be slow. One time we were biking to yoga together, and we had to pull over and sit on the sidewalk for almost two hours while she sobbed and begged me to let her kill herself. I pleaded with her to just hang on through this moment, and that it would pass, and that she would someday, somehow, start to feel better again.

When the suicidal feelings gripped her tightly, her whole body groaned and wailed over the loss of control of mind and feelings. I would hold her, but I learned that all I could do in those moments was to sit there and let it be, so I did. And then the fog would clear, the suicidal impulses would slip back under the surface, and the muted, agreeable Giulia would return.

“Are you O.K. now, honey?”

Pause. “Yes.”

“Do you know how proud of you I am, and how much I love you?”

Pause. “Yes.”

“Are you ready to get back on the bike and go home?”

Pause. “Yes.”

In our conversations about love, which also would arise unprompted, Giulia would interrupt whatever we were doing to tell me how much she loved me.

Instead of questions like, “Why would God do this to me?” or “Can you agree to let me kill myself in one year if this doesn’t get better?” my lovely, broken, medicated wife would take my hand, look me in the eyes, and say, “Mark, you are the most wonderful person I know. Thank you for helping to save my life. I love you and am staying alive because of you.”

Just like that.

As her spouse and caregiver, one of my biggest struggles was to keep my own emotions in check. She was too fragile to witness how much her delusions, paranoia and depression scared and worried me, so I had to pretend that none of it bothered me.

I became a master at compartmentalizing my worry and anxiety, neatly packaging my feelings into the small, permissible moments when I had the time and space, away from Giulia. For the most part, though, I was her cheerleader, and nothing, no matter how dark or despairing, could shake me.

But when she told me she loved me? That I was saving her life? And that she was staying alive not for herself, but for me?

Those moments always left me stunned, teary-eyed and breathless. I had no defense against those. They left me reaching to her to find my stability, rather than the other way around. How can you shield yourself from the impact of someone saying, “I love you”? And why would you?

Giulia has since gotten better. She no longer takes the medicine. We don’t live in a “Yes” or “No” existence anymore. We now live with bills and iPhones and deadlines.

I’m glad to have left behind the anxiety and unknowns of dealing with a serious mental illness. It was a grueling year for both of us. And yet when I look back on that year, I have to admit there is a part of me that misses it — or, more accurately, a part of it that I miss.

I don’t miss the illness itself, of course. We’re still not sure where the darkness came from, or why it’s behind us, or even what the actual diagnosis was (psychotic depression, maybe). All I know is that it was exhausting to deal with on a daily basis, and so I am glad it is gone.

And I don’t miss Giulia’s sadness, a sadness that seemed to be without limits. Good riddance to that.

BUT I do miss how much we talked about life and love that year. It seemed like all we ever talked about. In one sense we have never communicated less in our relationship and never been in such different mental spaces, yet in another sense we were closer emotionally than we have ever been and more deeply connected. Her mental illness cast such a strange web of paradoxes into our life together.

Nowadays we bicker about things like doing the dishes.

One of us will say, “I cooked dinner, so can you wash the dishes?”

And the other will respond, “Well, I did the laundry today and folded it and put it away, so no.”

“But I walked the dog by myself tonight.”

“But I made the bed.”

Until finally one of us does the dishes.

When Giulia was sick, we did the dishes together because there was nothing else to do. As long as we were together, we could agreeably wait out the disease and show it that we were more patient than it was.

I think that’s what I miss. We weren’t in a rush to do anything else, because there was no certainty of a future. So we defaulted to living in the present, focusing on each moment of our “Yes and No” days. A time when only two things mattered to us: life and love.

Mark Lukach lives in San Francisco and is writing a memoir about taking care of his wife during her struggle with mental illness.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

one last dance

The lawn was covered with red and blue, brightly lit tents. I found myself, once again, not in my homeland on Christmas Day, but somewhere very close by. Just a day earlier I had cried in the shower, remembering, after too much wine, the depths of unhappiness I was in. I had typed out my sorrows to him, just needing a friend at that point of time, a listening ear. Spontaneously, the next day, we traveled, each from different cities, to attend this dinner, but also, to meet each other. He was thinner from the last I remembered, a sign of his worsening anxiety and the dreadful situation he was in. I knew that we could not expect anything with each other for now, and sometime later I told him words that I did not mean, 'that one day, you will find someone who loves you the way you are. And for me... I'm going to find someone like you.' I cannot tell him that I feel like giving up on this impossible dream and at the same time I don't want to be with anyone anymore, I don't, but yet, I want to be with him, and at the same time, I worry it will just go awry, again.

The house was beautiful, it had a large porch built for dancing, and when we arrived, the party already had hundreds of guests, some of the bolder aunties and uncles had already started dancing. We arrived with travelers from different countries, we happened to be from all over the world, Germany, America, Costa Rica, Brazil... but we found ourselves in the old town I loved so much on Christmas Day. It was a nice way to spend the holiday, I thought, surrounded by people I don't know, yet feeling more peaceful than I've ever had for a long time.

We danced with each other the entire night. From the fast, popular songs, to the slow ones. I wasn't able to read when he wanted to twirl me, so each time we mis-twirled, we giggled madly and did some other cover-up moves. We bopped and hopped to the shufflin' songs and jumped and swung to the pop songs, and we rested during the cha-cha and bollywood songs.

He did something that touched my heart. From the sides, there were several kids, teenagers, who were watching us dance, but never daring to venture out. He just dragged them onto the dance floor, and once they were there, they never left. Thank you for doing that, it was a good thing you did. Then he saw a small boy in glasses and a checked shirt. He prompted me to go and drag him over. Initially I thought he did not want to dance at all, and he protested, I cannot dance! But once he was there as my partner, he glowed, and had a fun time. I was warmed that he knew this boy had the longing in his heart to come and dance but he was just too shy, and he helped to fulfil it. We danced till we were exhausted, and went to rest in a wicker sofa placed in the garden. Both sweaty, but also happy, I put my head on his lap and admired the stars in the sky. We told each other silly things and I could feel him laugh from the depths of his belly, and that was such a perfect moment. Although the place was packed with people, it seemed that we were just enveloped in each other, despite the loud music blasting just beside us, I felt a quiet, contemplative feeling as we were beside each other, for that moment, just putting away all our other thoughts, and the force of each other's presence making each other feel happy, just happy to see each other, not knowing when would be the next time. I had followed my heart, or my lack of common sense, to where he was.

Later that night, when I knew he couldn't hear, I whispered that I loved him very much.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

we could be happy

And then, he smsed me, when he was leaving asia to yonderland. Little things like this makes me so happy.

We chatted, and I found myself sharing about a vivid dream I had, early this year. A dream I could not forget, and had not shared with anyone. I always thought that this dream was, perhaps, God-given, to inspire and encourage me. The personal hell I had gone through, a shattered heart and a lost faith, I never could bear to tell him, and never asked him about his personal sorrow, although, without words, I can guess that our sad stories had the same ending. Because, how could I tell him that I felt the same way, that I had also been very disappointed, that I was happier alone than with someone, yet, I had followed my heart to meet him, to find out something, something I can't even name. And this scares me more than anyone, because in the dream, I was old, and so happy, so in love, walking in a wintry place, cobblestoned streets, vividly remembering and loving the street in which we walked, old and gray but safe in each other's presence. And when I woke, I was hopeful again, that even though it had been a tough year, life is short and there are moments when we should be happy like fools, although we have tasted bitter moments, and we cannot anticipate the future, we should count ourselves very lucky to have met each other in a sea full of strangers. I would like 'us' to become a reality and I know we will not be as happy with any one else, but if the reality is that if it only lasts for x period of time, I would die, just die, and isn't it better just to let things be status quo? I don't know all the answers.

This was the poem I wrote then, trying to capture the essence of how the dream felt.

'Twas a girl's daydream of growing old,
And walking hand in hand through
Cobblestoned streets, a vision of
Being blissfully happy, though
Gray haired and bleary eyed, they walked
Slowly but surely
Seeming to saunter in spirit,
They were us.

Though we speak the same language,
Few truly understand
Or comprehend
between the lines
Of what the heart wants to say
Modernity seeks to banish the dream
The dream of love, the scene an ode to love

I wait in peace, captive to your thoughts
Your voice like it was almost always there
The time and place where it had not existed seemed a distant and forgotten place
While I have time more
With eyes half-asleep, I perceive the cobblestoned street
And the language of love
Our hearts both speak.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

One Day (2011) Good Life - OneRepublic HD

One Day (2011) Good Life - OneRepublic HD

I've read the book on recommendation, and found the movie to be awfully dull.
However, I love the soundtrack that sounds hopeful.
This show reminds me somewhat of one of my male friends. He looks like the main character.
We used to be close, but just for a short short while in what seems like an eternity of a lifespan.
For that one year, I enjoyed that friendship, knowing that there's an expiry date to it.

I think that even if I knew things would be short-lived, I would still choose it this way.
We had each other, that one day.

This song also helped me make A decision. Just one decision out of the many I have to make each step of the way. My work, my future path...
I was asking myself one year later, would I have been happy in this decision I have to make if I chose this tough path.
I don't know why I must always make my own life so challenging when there are other options. Like the way how I'm so busy and never having a day free to myself.
Am I scared of being bored or growing old? Meanwhile I have tried many things for the first time, acting in two student films as one of the leads, incredibly exhausting but I would do it again... bouldering by myself, I have not imagined myself doing that... and others. So one year later would I be happy doing the same thing. The answer, I've found, chooses me, I've always been incredibly blessed this way. I hope 4 months later I will have some confirmation of the path I chose based on my intuition and nothing much else.