Avid readers (are there any left?) of my blog might recall the fateful day when I bit too hastily and greedily into a hard piece of garlic bread. What happened was that I broke my first lower molar on the left side of my mouth. That was almost four years ago and since then I’ve had it patched and repatched a few times. There was even once when it got infected and my dentist had to take the nerve out. Yes, yes, I hear you say—”Why didn’t you have it extracted way back then?” The answer is that I’m a complete wuss, especially after hearing people say how painful and difficult it is to pull out one of those big babies…
Fast forward to the present and I had an inkling that the molar was acting up again since it was giving me a numbing sort of pain the past few days. I had resorted to some ibuprofen when the pain made me wake up in the middle of the night. OK—enough is enough. I went to the dentist yesterday and here comes the scary and humorous part. He poked around the tooth, told me that it had broken yet again and it was loose. Before I could respond he yanked it out!! I almost hit the ceiling!! He quickly sprayed some anesthetic on the area which numbed the pain, and then he showed me the remnants of my molar…ugh, what a bloody mess.
Of course there is a gaping hole where my humble molar once resided but you know what? I don’t mind…and now—suddenly, I feel liberated about not having to constantly remind myself to bite or chew too hard on the left side. I’m not gonna do a crown or stuff like that (let’s not get into that here) but in a strange kind of way, the left side of my mouth feels relieved. Better out than in, I say!
This is the main title theme to the 1983 movie, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. I would like to thank my friend Susan P. for drawing my attention to this lovely music. It was composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto (who also starred in the film) who is perhaps more well-known for his music in another famous movie, The Last Emperor. Hope you enjoy this.
I guess humans have been complaining ever since God put them on this Earth. We complain about the weather, the economy, our jobs, relationships, and on and on. I’m glad to say I’ve actually managed to keep my complaints under wraps—I hardly ever complain about stuff but living here in Penang I do occasionally lapse into bemoaning why the weather is so hot and humid at this time of year. And then my brother’s emails from Melbourne jolted me. They have been having sleepless nights because of the extremely hot and dry weather and strong winds. Bush fires have encroached into their suburb and they nearly had to evacuate. Fortunately, through a combination of a change in wind direction and the skills of the firemen, they were spared this time. An added plus was they received some rain. They are not quite out of the woods yet, at least until the current hot weather lets up in mid-March.
Can’t imagine what mayhem would occur in Penang if we had strong winds and bush fires.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
I’m working my way through The Essential Rumi. The poem above has remained one of my favorites. Basically he expounds on the fact that as humans we have a wide gamut of emotions to contend with. I can personally attest to that. Every day we never know who’s checking in into our lives. We have to welcome each guest, regardless of their appearance (appearances can be deceiving, right?) and their demeanor. We learn from them, and yes, sometimes they teach us the hard facts of life. Rumi puts it eloquently in the closing, when he says, “Be grateful for whatever comes. Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
I’ve always been tempted to shoo away the unwelcome visitors, especially Mr. Depression and Miss Anxiety. Some days they knock on my door and I yell, “Go away! I don’t want to see you.” And what do they do? Yup…they go for a quick walk and come right back, knocking more persistently than ever. So I guess Rumi’s right. You let them in and learn from them. And of course when Miss Joy comes I do the same too. The thing is, these house guests are unpredictable. They check in and check out whenever they feel like it. However, I’ve learned to accept this…every emotion is transient. Joy won’t last forever, but the same goes for unhappiness. Anyway, back to my reading. The Essential Rumi is heartily recommended—the translations by Coleman Barks and the organization of the book make it very easy to read and digest.
Fooling around with Psy’s mega hit. I recorded this using my Canon PowerShot G15.
The piano teaching field is always unpredictable. Making a living out of it is a gamble, a risk. Like any other job, it has its ups and downs. I’ve had some wonderful students in the past but as my piano professors used to remind me—everything has a beginning and an end. No student, no matter how wonderful he or she is, is going to remain with a teacher forever. It’s a little sad when some students drop out for one reason or another; more so if they do so suddenly and I feel they have potential. Sometimes I click with a student, sometimes I don’t. And yes, at times they surprise me with stuff…like this new student who sent me this text. She was just shy and didn’t have a high opinion of herself, so I tried my best to coax her out of it by reassuring her that her piano playing would blossom and improve, given time. Getting this text from her meant a lot to me…at least I’m helping one student along and restoring her dignity to herself—she thought she’d lost it but it was always there, inside her…waiting to emerge.
It’s bad news as far as I’m concerned. Microsoft has decided to mothball Windows Live Messenger (WLM) on March 15, 2013. Taking its place will be Skype (which Microsoft acquired for a cool $8.5 billion back in May 2011). I’m not a Skype fan—I hate its dated interface, its inability to support third party emotes, sending of files, tabbed chats, lack of online games, etc. Fortunately, I’ve found a great substitute for WLM, and that’s Yahoo Messenger (current version is 18.104.22.168). You can download it here. Here are some highlights of YM (Yahoo Messenger):
- Instant messaging with a friend or a group of friends
- Customize your IM experience with emoticons, avatars, audibles, and IMVironments
- A built-in media player to watch web videos and view photos with friends
- Play Yahoo games while chatting
- Cam with your IM friends
- Facebook and Twitter integration is available. WLM integration was disabled last year but since WLM is biting the bullet soon, it’s not going to be missed
- IM on mobile—iPhone, Android, or any Internet enabled phone
- Tabbed IM windows
So there you have it. WLM might be relegated to being just a memory, but there’s a good substitute for it. That is, until Microsoft has enough sense to port over the fun features of WLM into Skype.