Archive for September, 2004

here I go again…

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

Since I got here I have not had a lot of time to myself. There has always been someone to go to dinner with, or someone to ride back to the hotel with, and usually more work to do. Tonight I rode back in a cab by myself for the first time. A lot of things were running through my head while I was stuck in traffic. Sitting in the back of a dark cab, looking out the window as the city lights in the rain and listening to sad Chinese music can have that effect on you I guess.

The main thing going through my head was about personal lives. I find myself talking to one of the people at work about the situation they find themselves in. They know they have set themselves up for heartache but can’t seem to stop themselves from getting more involved with someone who is about to move away. I have no problem talking with them, giving them advice on what they are doing, but I as I sat in the cab tonight I found myself asking if I am in any position to give advice to anyone about relationships.

I have had my share of relationship that where bad ideas, relationships I messed up and relationships that emotionally damaged me and it took time to recover from. I would like to think I have learned something from them, but I am once again questioning myself.

It’s been about a year since I had a girlfriend—and to be honest more like two years as we were physically separated for more than a year before she finally called it off. I knew it was bound to happen at some point and I know I should have just done it long before she did but I could not bring myself to do it. Anne, one of my ex-girlfriends mothers, told me once that ‘relationships end for many reasons, some end not because of the people but because you meet at the wrong time or place and the world is staked against you. There is nothing you can do sometimes.’ It’s a fatalistic statement but I think it holds some truth. It didn’t comfort me when her daughter broke up with me.

Since my last relationship ended I have been emotionally shut off from intimacy. I have not even asked a girl out. To be honest I have only found myself even thinking about asking two girls and I never got up the nerve. They are both dating someone else, and now I’ve moved to Singapore. Somehow here I find myself in a situation that could prove very bad. I find myself attracted to someone I am working with. I can find any number or reasons to not be attracted to her; she smokes, she is too young, etc. But it doesn’t matter, the bottom line is I find her physically attractive and I am attracted to her personality. I work with her everyday and she feels like she can talk to me when she needs something or has a problem at work. So I can’t help but think about it.

It also does not help that I think she is making a mistake in her current relationship. But if I tell her that she is making a mistake I can’t be sure I really think she is making a mistake or that I am telling her that because she is or because I want her to think she is. I can’t help but think I am trying to undermine her relationship so she will end it, which makes me feel bad.

I think having a girlfriend again would do me a lot of good actually. While I like to think I am a person who does not get stressed out about a lot of things the fact is I do get stressed. Over time the stress builds up and I think it manifest itself in how I act and talk. In short I become bitter. This is not to say that I am not happy with my life, just that without someone to share my day to day life will I have no emotional release and all of it gets bottled up inside.

I have come to this conclusion several times over the last few months and looking back through this lens I don’t really like the personality that has come about. I am too quick to anger with people over things.

What really got me thinking about all this was when someone at work asked me if I was dating this girl I like. We spend so much time together that they thought we were dating. That should be my warning to back off, but I know myself too well. I won’t back off and I won’t go forward. In the end I will end up in the same situation I was in once long ago—the best friend who wants more but can’t have it. The emotional crutch she leans on. I’ve been there before and I can see myself headed back that way. But I can’t stop myself.

So tonight as I left the office she was on her way out to have dinner with her boyfrined and I was on my way back to the hotel alone. It’s not where I expected to be a month after coming to Singapore. Sitting in a dark cab, watching the rain and listening to sad music.

native western-ness

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

I drug one of the girls from the office out last night to take two other Americans and myself to the Mid-Autumn Festival [ ] here in Singapore. She did not want to go but I think she had a good time showing the crazy foreigners around. She told us the whole thing was ‘for kids’ and she was not kidding. I said before that Singapore is Asia by Walt Disney and if that is true then the Mid-Autumn Festival is like the electric light parade. The whole showcase—the Chinese Gardens—was filled with ten foot statues of Mickey and friends. There was Disney music playing everywhere. It was quite surreal. When we first got there they were playing ‘It’s a small world!’ We walked around for a while, I took pictures but none of them really came out as I did not take my tripod. Silly me thinking that we were going to China Town to see this and it was going to be crowded. But no! It was like going to Walt Disney Land only all the songs were playing at the wrong exhibits—and there was no haunted house! (The song thing is true—if the scene was from beauty and the beast they would have a song from Aladdin, and if the scene was from Aladdin they played something from The Little Mermaid, crazy!) But it was a fun night, hot and sweaty but fun. I expected some interesting Asian celebration but got Disney gone native!

four floors of whores!

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

Yes, you read the title correctly. That is the nickname of Orchard Towers. Which is where I ended up last night as two of my companies sales men are in town for the GSM Asia conference. Chris, another of the guys who is here, and I meet up with the two salesmen at around 7 for dinner. Well dinner was good, and their was more than a bit of drinking involved. This precipitated a ‘where to now’ conversation. We settled on China Black—a dance club on the twelth floor of a building or Orchard Road.

China Black was cool but it was too loud to carry on much of a conversation and all the seating areas seemed to be reserved so we decided to head out. We ended up at a place called Top Ten which is in Orchard Towers. Everything was fine when we got there; the four of us sat down in one of the little U-shapped booths and ordered some drinks. Then the sales guys went to work, telling us to invite some of the girls over.

Now, Chris is engaged and I have an—call it illogical—objection to buying sex and these girls where there for one reason: To be taken home and payed for sex. They don’t approach you, because solicitation is illegal but you can approach them, they sit with you and dance all over you and kiss on you and touch you and… I know this because one of the sales guys succeded in inviting three of them over to the table and setting them on Chris and I.

Good thing for Chris he ended up with the shy one. I was not so, um… Lucky. I got the aggressive girl. Now I won’t say it was not enjoyable to have a girl basically all ove me, but if I had a girlfriend then what that girl was doing would have been considered cheating. The worst part was the sales guy kept trying to get me to take her home, and was telling her to take me home! I had to remind him that I am not a customer—I work with him. I felt like saying ‘Mike, I’m not going to sign a contract for anything.’

So it was an interesting night. I had way too much to drink though and that brings me to one of the odd things about Singapore. Being only 137Km from the equator the sun is up 12 hours a day all year. It rises at 7 and sets at 7. This does not sound like it would be strange, but it feels like the hight of summer her and the sun is set by 7:30pm which is odd to someone who grew up much further north where the sun is up 16 hour a day when it is this hot an humid. I bring the sunrise up because I left the curtains open in my room last night as I was a bit out of it when I got back and this morning at 7am—because my room faces East—I was nearly blinded when the sun woke me up and I opened my eyes. The fact that my head felt like someone hit it with a sledge hammer made it all that much more painful! God sales men drink too much…. And somehow I ended up S$100 poorer and some girl at Top Ten S$100 richer, even though I went home alone!


Saturday, September 18th, 2004

I have seen a few of the pictures of devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan along the Alabama coast and the Florida pan-handle. Quite a few of them from Gulf Shores, where my grandfathers beach house is, or was—I don’t know how it fared but considering that the island Gulf Shores is on was for some time totally submerged and the amount of damage I have seen in the pictures I doubt it fared very well.

Having just been in Gulf Shores before I came it Singapore, it’s a little surrealistic to see pictures of places I know — places several miles inland, under three or four feet of water. To see places I just shopped now leveled with their wares scattered across the parking lot. Places I ate with their roofs upside down and their interior filled with sand and water.

It’s the price you pay for living along the Gulf coast. No different than earthquakes in Southern California. But it’s still surreal. I just posted a few of the better pics I took while I was down at my Grandfathers—you can look at them here [].

I don’t know when the next time I will be in Gulf Shores might be, but it won’t be the same. For some time the relentless march of capitalism has been ripping up the small homes and businesses and replacing them with high-rise luxury condos for visitors. Now I expect that process will be greatly accelerated as people sell their land rather than rebuild. The well backed investors will come in and buy up every plot of land along the beach—wherever it lies now—and they will build up make as much money as they can before the next big storm huffs and puffs and blows all of their houses down again.

Asia lite

Friday, September 10th, 2004

This is going to be a really lame first post from Singapore but I have not had a chance to do too much exploring. My first week and a half have been very busy, my boss and my bosses boss—who is also my boss (it’s complicated) anyway they just left yesterday. So, tonight I had my first chance to really explore. Did not do much—they guys at the office decided to have a pool tournament so I did not leave till fairly late. So I did not get to explore much tonight—had dinner in the street in Chinatown with two my co-workers but did not have time to do not much else. Tomorrow I am planning to go out with my camera so I will try to post some pics.

My first impression? I will quote Dave from work here: Singapore is like Asia by Walt Disney. It’s clean and sterile, and made for visitors. It’s Asia lite, there is so much western influence that it would be easy to ignore never really be ‘in Asia’ in spirit. You could live and breathe big western city and never encounter Asia—mind you you’d have to work at it but you could do it. It’s going to be fun finding all the little nooks and crannies where the real Singapore hides, and then there is all the foreign lands so close’ This should be fun.

Speaking of pics—I finally linked my photos from the main page. I still want to work on the code for the pages (stolen from Thilo [ ] and them heavily screwed up for my page.) I have some more pics to go through and post, from hiking with J——- at Great Falls and from my Grandfathers house in Alabama. I’ll get around to posting them someday. I need to go through the Japan pics again now that I have got the hang of using GIMP to edit them. Some of them are over saturated with color and look bad. One day I’ll fix it…. now it’s bed time on this side of the world.