Archive for the ‘Eh’ Category

HALO

November 5, 2008

Dawn is hours from breaking, and darkness shrouds a clouded sky. Put one foot in front of the other. Keep moving. Wake up!

“What the fuck, are you serious?”

A canvas of brittle, browned leaves blankets the trail, offering shelter to treacherous sinkholes and ankle-twisting branches. Put one foot in front of the other. Keep moving. Wake up!

“Why?”

Autumn’s chill sweeps down from the hills, carrying with it the scent of eucalyptus and memories of runs through this forest, lifetimes ago. Each breath lances the lungs. Each step jolts the spine. Each mile torments the legs. Put one foot in front of the other. Keep moving. Wake up!

“I don’t understand. I thought…”

Run like you love the pain. Run like you mean it. Run like your life depends on it. Run, for you have been asleep far too long.

“Thursday’s your day in the barrel.”

Three quarters past, at one of those forks in the decision tree so sharp that I can still feel the puncture wounds in my chest, I wrote this. Three event-filled quarters later, I find myself again at an eerily familiar fork, so I figured it was finally time to sit down and watch “Casino Royale.” Apropos.

“You don’t trust anyone, do you James?”

“No.”

“Then you’ve learnt your lesson.”

If only I would learn mine.

This is no magnum opus, nor much of a valedictory.  There is little left in me to commit words to print, save a vague sense of obligation, though to who or what, I know not. The ragged draft of a witty, bittersweet final post lays abandoned, consigned to the ether like so many other stunted pieces; and there shall it remain, for what is here has taken its place.

Nearly four months have passed since the end of my whirlwind year at INSEAD, and what better time to take stock of matters than now, after the famed “First 100 Days”? Thanks to Fates, Furies, or Pat Sajak and his Wheel of Fortune, I graduated amidst a six sigma market, am currently living a life punctuated by six sigma events, and am doing my damnedest to ride the sigma-squared in a quest for Veritas. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on which side of the line-in-the-sand you stand) the Aequitas part will have to wait for Siddhārtha and his karmic cudgel to do what he does best.

I won’t squander this white space regaling you with reviews of star professors, summaries of must-bid classes, or tales of parties and weekend trips that have already faded into the annals; there are other blogs out there that do that much better than this one could ever hope to. Instead, I’ll use this last hurrah for a tad bit of reflection, in the form of incoherent fragments, as I’ve given up on weaving together some sort of readable narrative. Caveat emptor. YMMV.

Fragment –

If there’s one thing I wish I would’ve taken away from this year, it would be the ability to manage expectations.

Despite my inveterate cynicism, perennial bitterness, and outward projections of being Shiva the Destroyer and the Harbinger of Impending Doom rolled together in a sheet of filo dough, there was always a bit of me that offered shelter and safe harbor to that oh-so-fragile vessel, Hope.

Hope that things do work out, that people are good, and that truth and justice do exists. Storm’s a’ come, and the harbor don’t look so safe no mo’. There ain’t no silver linin’ on this cumulonimbus, either. If only I had listened to the weatherman and brought an umbrella, I might be a little drier, warmer and happier.

Folks, don’t go to business school and expect to find human goodness. If that’s what you want, I’d say you’re better off blowing your coin on a hillock of pura cocaína and taking your septum on a ski trip.

Fragment –

The MBA is not a panacea.

Not for work, not for life, not for love. It’s just a piece of heavy paper with a pretty stamp, along with a few gigabytes of pixellated memories on a hard drive tucked away somewhere – assuming you’re the camera-toting type – to be dusted off through the decades during hazy trips down memory lane.

If you’re taking a year off in hopes of executing some sort of quantum leap in your life, sit back and do some serious head scratching before you take the plunge. Oh, sure, it’s possible. There are cases abound of X’s contorting themselves into Z’s, ray-of-sunshine epiphanies, and disparate soul mates crashing together like neutrinos amidst the entropy, but these were exceptions, not the norm.

Detractors would argue that we graduated at a bad time, your year is what you make it, and that the learning and experiences are priceless paving stones on the path to self-betterment. Said detractors should: A) Consider a career in cobbling together smarmy Mastercard ads, and B) Blow me.

Fragment –

I pride myself on being a good judge of character, but somehow when it comes to my personal life and stock portfolio, all bets are off, and sense flies out the window.

“Real men don’t diversify,” a famous (male) INSEAD finance professor was fond of saying. I subscribe to this approach in investing and life. When I hit, I hit big, but when I miss… The problem is I never know when to realize my gains, or when to cut my losses. My gut and brain can be screaming “Left!” yet there’s always a part of me that never listens, and chooses instead to amble rightward, usually at the detriment of the other bits and leading to annihilation of the whole.

Fragment –

I’ve got a joke for you:

Q: What do you get when you throw a gaggle of highly motivated, morally bankrupt, alpha opportunists together in a city, add booze, and mix?

A: Some real ninja-like feats of deception, obfuscation and opportunism.You won’t see the caltrops until they’re buried in your heel, and that sharp, pokey feeling that’s tickling your gut? Oh, that’s just a katana running through your back. But don’t worry; it’s for your own good.

I remember coming across a post by an INSEAD blogger of yore about how the people she hung out with in P1 and who were her new BFFs ended up being more like KOS by P5. For this writer, it took until P7 for the Kool-Aid to wear off and the ninjas to be separated from the pirates, who in this strained metaphor, eye patches, peg-legs and all, are the good guys.

A hooked hand and a thousand thanks go out to the motley and unexpected INSEAD crew of the USS Cynic, for staying on deck and weathering the tempests, especially this last one. You have my gratitude and friendship for life, or for as long as you want it: Ahjuma, The Banker, Brownie, Double-D, Hence, JSoros, King Mufafa, NBP, Saigon, Two Pair, and the UEGA duo.

And to the OG’s, who I couldn’t have made it this far without, you already know that my hearth, home and black humor are yours: Architect, C-Mog, Dr. O, HapaD, Lucky Lindberg, Naia, Shay, Siren, Slutzky.

Fragment –

Coming into the year, I thought I’d learn a bit, mingle a bit and grow a bit, but I had no idea that the distribution of my experience would skew so heavily toward the latter.

I read an article once, about height discrimination in China and the lengths prospective job-seekers would go through to surmount this bias. The truly focused opted to undergo a procedure whereby their legs were broken and their bones forcibly separated by metal rods and made to heal between the gaps so that when the pieces finally rejoined, the person would be an inch or two taller than before.

Why anyone would voluntarily go through something like this is beyond me, that is until I look back at the thirteen months from August 2007 to September 2008, and realize, “Oww. My being hurts.” The repairs have only just begun, and I’ve got a feeling that the contractor may not be able to finish the job in time, if at all.


It has been a long, arduous climb, up and away from a year I never thought I’d want to forget. I stand at the pinnacle of this jagged crag, perched on the brink, arms wide, fists clenched and thumbs pointed skyward, gazing out on the vast expanse of white noise below. Maybe it will resolve into a stunning panorama of a bright future. Or perhaps it only serves to mask a black oblivion.

There’s the go signal. Time to find out. So long.

“Farewell to you and the youth I have

spent with you.

It was but yesterday we met in a dream.

You have sung to me in my aloneness,

and I of your longings have built a tower

in the sky.

But now our sleep has fled and our dream

is over, and it is no longer dawn.

The noontide is upon us and our half

waking has turned to fuller day, and we

must part.

If in the twilight of memory

we should meet once more, we shall speak again to-

gether and you shall sing to me a deeper

song.

And if our hands should meet in another

dream we shall build another tower in the

sky.”

-Kahlil Gibran

Echelon

September 30, 2008

“Hey, wow, welcome back!”

“Thanks.”

“So, uh, your hair looks longer!”

“Yeah, like my debt.”

“How was Paris?!”

“I wasn’t in Paris.”

“Oh…”

<Pivot towards bar>

“Those are amazing pictures.”

“They were amazing times.”

“You looked so, dare I say it, happy.”

“Yeah; that life is over, now.”

Wednesday April 30, 2008

September 13, 2008

16:07 via phone

Watching a Zamboni do its thing around the ice is strangely relaxing.  I used to take lessons on Sundays when I was a kid, on this very same rink.  Well, actually, it’s not really the same one, since it used to be about 300M that way, and pointed that other way, but hey, it’s in the same shopping center… that doesn’t really look the same, either.  Not much around here does, my family included.

I’ve always held to the belief that where you come from has a huge hand in shaping who you are, and that it’s important to never forget where that is.  I still believe that, but I wonder now if I’m letting the past keep me from seeing the future, and from living the present.  Every time I come “home,” I make the rounds to a few familiar haunts, and end up feeling a pang of, something.  Regret?  Nostalgia?  Yearning for the “normal” childhood I never had?  I dunno.  This time, I don’t really feel anything outside a dose of familiarity, and the ubiquitous sense of being a foreigner.

The latter has always bothered me, leaving me feeling like a stranger in a strange land, even though I was born and raised (well, half raised) here.  Yet maybe this irksome nagging in the back of my head is a sign that it’s time to embrace it and work the angles; to play it to my advantage.  Maybe it’s time to sever the umbilical cord to the comforting past and move.  Sideways? Forward?  Somewhere.  Just don’t stay static.

Hmm.  The gate has just opened and they’ve let the little monkeys back on the ice.  Time to go.

Saturday April 5, 2008 ii

April 6, 2008

17:15

After a week and a half of sleeplessness, I finally got some rest last night after draining a fraction of the emotions that had been building up for so long. Cathartic as it was, this didn’t do much more than put me to sleep.

I’m in another nameless, faceless city, typing by the fading sunlight creeping through broken shutters, trying to keep the rushing thoughts at bay. My mind is the embodiment of chaos, only capable of looking backward into the bits and bytes of burning memories; running into the familiar, endless wall of Technicolor grey whenever I try to look forward. Whereas others gaze outward upon plains of possibility, all I see are killing fields peppered with carcasses of broken dreams and shards of shattered hopes.

“Is there nothing you dream about? Is there nothing you hope for?”

“No.”

“Really? Think.”

“Well…damn. Yeah, I guess I do dream, about…”

“Yes; yes you do.”

Thursday April 3, 2008

April 6, 2008

“Flicking Candle Light” –Liu Tian Hua on the er-hu

While outside on The Patio taking a drag this morning, I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. Glancing upward, I saw a plane languidly cutting through the clusters of fluffy white clouds that dotted a powdery blue sky. In its wake, rapier straight, trailed a jet stream, following obediently to wherever its maker was bound.

As a kid, I used to rush outside whenever I heard the roar of turbofan thrust, to stand, mouth agape, gawking at the jets rushing overhead, off to the far ends of the earth. As an older, and little wiser kid, I still envy those planes, with their well-defined flight plans, headed clearly from A to B.

Wedesday April 2, 2008

April 2, 2008

23:25

94 days left.

“Live At Trance Energy 04-20-00” set – Ferry Corsten

I’m sitting here decompressing from another west wing extravaganza, so hungry that my stomach is inverted, so tired that random flashes of light and little purple men are dancing a jig on this desk in front of me, and so fucked that I broke the will of someone today whose job it is to not be broken. Pretty awesome. I think that’s a new personal best.

“If it was anyone else sitting here, I’d recommend <drastic measures>. But you’re not someone else. I get the feeling that you’re used to this; that this is pretty standard operating procedure for you. That you know how to live.”

I’ll drink to that. Gyrothingamajigger, get your spin on.

“We tend to resolve our perplexity arising out of the experience that other people see the world differently than we see it ourselves by declaring that these others, in consequence of some basic intellectual and moral defect, are unable to see things ‘as they are’ and to react to them ‘in a normal way.’ We thus imply, of course, that things are in fact as we see them, and that our ways are the normal way.”

-Gustav Ichheiser

Saturday March 29, 2008 ii

March 29, 2008

21:31

I woke up ~0600 to daybreak, freezing, half-dressed in yesterday’s crumpled clothes, lying on top of the sheets with my laptop open to some mind-numbing game, wondering what the hell happened.  Must’ve been another steamroller.  No; I wasn’t drinking last night. I guess the exhaustion and confusion finally caught up. It’s been a really trying week, heavily back-loaded with, well, everything.

“Forget <insert menial job here>, you need to write,” said an email from a high school friend, who I see every couple of years. Where has writing gotten me?  No one likes to read about success, so I suppose I’ve got a lot of material to go on. There comes a point, though, where the shit I type becomes too depressing, even for me.

It’s time to make a move. Well, at least from this west wing cubicle where I’ve been parked since this afternoon, trying to hammer out an assignment for Industry and Competitive Analysis.  Great class, but way too much work. It’s like Corporate Entrepreneurship all over again, except Karel Cool (M) isn’t as pretty as Michelle Rogan (F). The dregs of the Balvenie bottle beckon. To infinity, and beyond!

2046

March 28, 2008

This blog is a month and a half shy of its first birthday, and about a day and a half away from the 20,000 hits mark. You’ve had a front-row seat since the beginning. From the acceptance euphoria to the madness of P1/P2, to the psychological barometer and exhaust pipe that this platform has become, you’ve seen it all, and then some.

I figured I owed you a notice, at the very least. I’m taking down the shingle for a while. Maybe I’ll revisit the paper journal, or maybe I’ll just give up writing indefinitely. Who knows? I sure as hell don’t anymore. I’m leaving it all organic-like.

So yeah; maybe I’ll see you tomorrow. Maybe I’ll see you on the flip-side. Until we meet again.

“It’s like these pies and cakes. At the end of every night, the cheesecake and the apple pie are always completely gone. The peach cobbler, and the chocolate mousse cake are nearly finished. But there’s always a whole blueberry pie left untouched.”

“So what’s wrong with the blueberry pie?”

“There’s nothing wrong with the blueberry pie. It’s just people make other choices. You can’t blame the blueberry pie. It’s just, no one wants it.”

“My Blueberry Nights”

Mea culpa

March 26, 2008

After a screening of Ordinary People in PIM yesterday, we were asked to write down any learnings we derived from the film, assuming that it was an accurate representation of reality. My first point, in 700 font, bold, underlined, italicized was, “Sometimes, people can’t love you ME the way you I want/expect them to, no matter how hard you I try.”

A corollary to that is, “You can’t please everyone, all of the time.” And that’s one thing I’ve never been able to internalize. I somehow always end up pleasing those who don’t matter, and pissing off those who do.

So this is a public apology for a public fuck-up to someone who matters a lot, and whom I love dearly. I’m sorry.

Rubber Ducky

March 22, 2008

The dawn is breaking
A light shining through
You’re barely waking
And I’m tangled up in you
Yeah

I’m open, you’re closed
Where I follow, you’ll go
I worry I won’t see your face
Light up again

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills my mind
I somehow find
You and I collide

I’m quiet you know
You make a first impression
I’ve found I’m scared to know I’m always on your mind

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the stars refuse to shine
Out of the back you fall in time
I somehow find
You and I collide

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to ryhme
Out of the doubt that fills your mind
You finally find
You and I collide

You finally find
You and I collide
You finally find
You and I collide

“Collide” – Howie Day

——

I took a bath this evening, for the first time in years. Isn’t it strange that we humans attempt to relax by immersing our bodies in scalding hot water? All in all it wasn’t so bad, though the local bathtub would’ve been small for Res I(p)sa, let alone my fat ass.

Why the attempt to relax? I dunno; I was bored, alone, and didn’t feel like working. Oh yeah, and I was pissed off after a day of endless disappointment. Now mind you, I’m no stranger to let downs. As a matter of fact, every new one just validates my cheery outlook on life. But there’s only so much even I can take. Prioritized, stood up, and bad news from home, one after another, does nothing for my well being. Thus a bath, with good whisky, ashtray and case reading in tow. Yeah, yeah; there’s that Type A again, trying to do 18,451,904 things at once.

I should sleep, but I’ve just poured a bad whiskey and soda that I’d feel bad leaving sat about. So off I go to stare at the mountainous piles of work that I really wouldn’t mind accidentally dropping a lit cigarette on while I nurse this acrid drink.

Bon nuit.