A Hand at Matchmaking?

Okay. I’m taking a break from writing technical papers. Exposing the right side of my brain to some sunshine (it’s still bright here in Malaysia!) and giving the left side time to take a breather. I’ll probably move on to doing more left brain exercises tonight, but for now, let me just give good-ol’-right-hemisphere a much deserved workout.

I want to write this story about a feisty-yet-fragile woman working overtime inside her office (Jaizel – teaser! ; D ) but that story would have to wait till April. April. Did you hear that, Jaizel? April.

Honestly, I am so itching to write that story, but of course – priorities, priorities. Last Saturday, I spent an entire afternoon on just two pages of my lit review (just two pages! Ugh) – can you believe that? I think I must have spent the first two hours typing a bunch of words – only to find myself hitting the delete button repeatedly and re-typing everything over and over again.

But yey, I am now sudah (finished) with the updated version of my lit review. And guess what? That little piece of writing is now shedding some much needed light into the “stuff” that I have to do for the next year-and-a-half. “Stuff” meaning “matchmaking”.

Say what? Matchmaking?

Yes. Matchmaking. Come May (if I understand the goals of the research correctly), I have to find two companies to “marry together”, engaging them into a partnership type of relationship. They have to belong to the same vertical industry and they have to, at first, seem somewhat uninterested with one another. But a closer look reveals that “I-need-you-you-need-me-maybe-we-can-have-a-relationship” thing between them. I have to find their point of interdependence and create an e-marketplace model and application that would take advantage of that, creating other interdependencies, bringing their relationship to the next level.

Crazy, I know.

Well, that’s just the technical stuff that I typed out last Saturday brought down to layman’s terms.

I’m planning on doing the industry survey by May (if my adviser agrees) but right now, I at least need to have my list of matchmaking candidates – searchee numbers one, two, three, four, five… plus searcher numbers one, two, three, four, five as well.

Ideas anyone? I’m drawing a blank at this point. It’s like looking into the lives of my friends, thinking, “uhh… pwede ba sila?” Sigh. All I know at this point is that my candidates should come from the list of Malaysian car companies, technical support agencies, service whatevers – or anything along those lines. The key phrase is “vertical industry”.

Ay. Blank, blank, blank.

This little matchmaker needs help. Comments are highly appreciated.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Will get back to my left-brain exercise in a few. : )

P.S. If you can’t see any comments here, I think there may still be that glitch in the FS system. Feel free to give your feedback in the FB link if the bug hasn’t been fixed yet. Otherwise, if the stream of comments starts appearing here — well, go comment! : D

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It Runs in my Blood.

So I found out that my brother made a report on my recent “The Painter” blog series, using it to illustrate what literature means to him. He sent me the word file containing the essay and after reading it — I felt — well — I didn’t know what to feel. Proud? Humbled? Happy? Yeah. Heart-meltingly happy. Aww.

 

Okay, okay. Enough with the drama.

I’m posting his piece here so that you can see what literature means to him and so that you can have a view of how my little project — in one way or another — made a difference to him.

Here’s to my brother who grabbed the feature-writing pen from my hands. : )

WARNING: This essay contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so if you haven’t read “The Painter” yet — by all means, read it! Start HERE. But if you’re done reading the series — go ahead, and read my brother’s literary piece. : )

– 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 –

Quantum Yuri Lubrica                                                                 March 23, 2010

Humd. I Essay: My Literary Experience

Based on my experience, literature is art which reflects the writer, and which the reader can relate to. I say that literature is art since it is made of an array of letters, words, and thoughts – all put together by an artist. The said array is unique for every writer, and the way a person writes is influenced by experiences, knowledge, imagination, and mood. I say that literature is an art which the reader can relate to since certain parts of a literary piece are more striking to some readers than others, and the degree to which a reader can relate to it is based on the reader’s past experiences.

Let me illustrate my point using a short story, entitled The Painter that was recently published by Mari Anjeli B. Lubrica in her blog. Art is all around us in many forms. I believe that art is at its finest when it is recorded. Painters cannot be considered artists if their imagination isn’t recorded by oils, colors, and brush strokes. Musicians cannot be considered artists if they don’t express themselves by producing melody, rhythm and music as a whole. Thus, writers cannot be considered artists unless they organize their thoughts and reveries into a collection of uniquely arranged words and punctuations that is of course a form of self-expression. Thus, I believe that an important requirement is that literature, being a form of art, should be written and recorded – preferably even published, for it to be recognized and considered as a literary piece.

Literature is an expression of the writer and thus somehow reflects the writer’s background. Mari’s use of ‘nth’, which is a mathematical term, is an example of this since she is a BS Computer Science graduate. Even the pairing of ‘semi’ with the word strange – something that isn’t unusual for us, tells something about her roots and way of life. The use of the word ‘demeanour’ instead of ‘appearance’ somehow gives an idea of her educational and social background, and possibly even her mood. Her usage of “–” and placement of commas dictates how she imagines the way the story should be told – where the pauses should be. Notice how she uses ‘colours’ and ‘demeanour’ with a ‘u’ – an influence of her present residence, Malaysia.

The Painter is actually seven blog entries that started out with one original story that was essentially a summary of the eventual whole story. Because of the encouraging comments, according to Mari, she was inspired to continue on with new entries and she wanted to unfold the life of the painter. She spent parts of her days just imagining how the story would turn out to be – imaginations that must have been influenced by the many things happening around her. She describes it as “the painter knocking on her mind”. From the comment of one reader expressing interest about a boy, his father and a kite, Mari eventually even wrote a length entry about it – this shows how even feedbacks can influence how and what a person writes. She mentioned that the painter’s father died because of cancer, he had to leave his beloved girlfriend and even his family, but eventually had his dreams realized – social realities that may not have happened to the writer, but it must have happened to people around her, whether fictional or real, for her to be compelled to include these in her story. Her Christian life is also reflected by her usage of “Daddy God” in one line of the text.

I would now like to use the reader-response theory – that the reader is an active rather than passive participant – to elaborate on why I say literature is art that readers can relate to basing on their past experiences. The setting of the story is a small park, filled with people, grass and benches. How would someone who has never been to a park be able to relate to this story? The person may possibly be intrigued by the new idea, or may lose interest in the story altogether. Mari has also used some words that may be uncommon to some – such as apparel, joshing, nostalgic, insurmountable, limacons – but may also be very fitting (and strikingly familiar) to others. The things that the writer includes in a text, together with the way the words are written, and also the present state of the reader, affect the overall experience of the reader. I say this since I was almost brought to tears as I was reading the conversation of the painter and his girlfriend. I was moved since I have a girlfriend of my own, and have had some misunderstandings leading to pain. This, the writer’s choice of words, and the fact that I was alone while reading the story influenced how I experienced the literary piece – with all the goose-bumps, pounding heartbeats and a heavy feeling.

The reader is actively screening out some details while embracing other details, contributing to the overall experience while reading. What to keep and what to throw out is based on the reader’s personality, knowledge, motivation, and even mood or state at the time.

I had a one-of-a-kind feeling while reading my sister’s work – a sensation that I was reading my own work. Yes, Mari Anjeli is my sister, and though we have been living apart for almost six years, our way of thinking and writing style is still somehow similar. This is how I realized that indeed literature is an expression of oneself greatly influenced by one’s background, imagination, knowledge and frame of mind. I realized that I, too, can write excellently – I only have to do just that: write down and organize those messy, jumbled up thoughts. Once I do that, I can make a literary piece that I can share so that others may be able to relate to it.

By the way, the story ended with a girl fitting the description of the painter’s girlfriend, visiting the park looking for someone. The final scene brought me hope and enthusiasm. It shows the wit and creativity of the author. It also reveals the ability of the reader to understand, interpret and connect ideas, since an inattentive reader would fail to catch the implication of the final scene due to the way it was written.

The Colours Mix In

A rough sketch. A rough drawing of an artist sitting on a bench.

This little story started that way – as a simple drawing made out of simple lines and shading. But with the addition of each new painting – as each part of Nathaniel’s life is revealed – new colours and textures start coming in, transforming that drawing into something more.

What we have is no longer a mere sketch. In our hands is a textured piece revealing our protagonist’s true depth, his true character.

The piece is finished. The colours have mixed and blended in. Much as I want to take his story further, Nathaniel must be released, so that he can fully live out his dreams – and so that we can live out ours.

What ever did become of our painter? And what of the narrator? The final instalment reveals it all. Or does it? I leave you with this: click here to read our story’s conclusion.

Some of you may have missed out on parts of the story. Or some may have only come across it just now. So I shall give you the links. Start from the painter. Make your way through each painting until you come to the concluding one.

Dreams. Sacrifices. Fire. Fulfilment. Here, you will read it all.

***At dito nagtatapos ang aking kadramahan. ;) Really. But I enjoyed writing this little ‘thing’ down. The pieces aren’t really that lengthy (just a couple of paragraphs each), so if you have the time, just go ahead and read, read, read. I hope that you will not only enjoy each ‘painting’, but that you’ll learn and gain insights from them as well. Enjoy! Now for the links:


The PainterPainting One: TeenagersPainting Two: A Happy FamilyPainting Three: The Young Woman Painting Four: The Boy and his KiteThe Old Gentleman |The Writer |

The Painter

There is a painter sitting on a park bench across me. He is a regular here, just as I am. Every day he comes to that same spot, sits on that same bench, takes out the same materials from the same bag – and paints.

I look at him for a moment and, for possibly the nth time, observe his semi-strange demeanour.

He is unlike many of the city locals. His messy pony tail and stubby goatee exhibit his non-conformist approach to life and his rugged apparel affirms his simple and uncomplicated way of living. He has somewhat sunken cheeks, somehow giving away the possibly poor state of his wallet. Yet a close look at the fire and light in his eyes shows how he is most probably unbothered by it.

I sit here – curious – and I watch him take his palette, grab some paint, and start mixing the colours.

Carefully he does it, as he contemplates and decides on his subject for the day. His previous works, lying in that spot beside him, reveal creations of a man who – though having to leave some sort of past behind – is evidently pushing persistently onward to see the realization of some sort of dream.

His works. There is a colourful picture of a cluster of teenagers laughing and joshing around the park lake, the joy in their hearts captured by the painter’s choice of vibrant colours. I had watched how he had looked merrily at those teenagers, yet painted with a somewhat nostalgic smile.

There is also a mini-masterpiece of a simple family having a simple picnic, their glowing faces warm, blissful, and radiant. I had looked away when I noticed how tears seemed to fill his eyes when his brush strokes transferred into the canvas the image of that little boy crawling up his mummy’s lap.

And then there is a portrait of a young woman resting on a bench. His strokes perfectly capture her delicateness, her sweetness, and her gentleness. Yet I had observed his semi-anguished faraway look as he ever so carefully worked to fashion the face of a woman who – though painted to sit at that certain park bench – wasn’t actually there.

I wonder what he will paint this time.

I am surprised because there is fresh fire in his eyes. I see him glancing at a boy flying his kite with his daddy. I look on as he takes his brush and starts to paint. Different emotions flash through his eyes, but the flame within them is constant and evident. He finishes his painting and he sits there, holding his canvas with a satisfied smile.

My lips curl upwards as well and I get up, realizing the amount of time that I had spent watching. But then I see an old gentleman approach the painter, take an inquisitive look at the paintings, and ask curiously, “Are these your paintings?”

I sit down again.

“Yes they are mine.” A conversation. A quiet exchange goes between the two. I see life in the gentleman’s eyes as he mentions the words “masterpiece”, “talent”, “teacher”, “opportunity”, and “son”. I see light in those of the painter as he utters the phrases “thank you”, “is that so?” and “what a great opportunity.”

The gentleman shakes the rugged painter’s hands. The conversation has ended.

“Bring those paintings to my house next weekend. I’ll be sure to give you an honourable sum by then. And by that time, my son will be prepared to meet his new teacher.”

The painter gives a grateful bow. His countenance reveals that of a man whose dreams – despite the sacrifices and the insurmountable odds – are now coming into fulfilment. He packs up his brushes, his paintings, and his materials, and bids the place goodbye, knowing that by the next weekend, he will be stepping on a newer, higher ground.

He walks away.

I rise, and walk away as well.

By My Window

I’m sitting by my window. Looking at the sky. Listening to the merry chirping of the Za’ba birds. Savouring the cool, crisp, early morning breeze as it gently blows through my window.

The morning is unhurried. Unrushed. I’m simply watching and praying, noting that my to-do list can wait until a little bit later.

I hug my yellow fleece blanket to my knees, getting lost in the comfort of its warmth.

The view outside my window is a semi-strange sight. Morning has just broken, and clouds still fill the usually clear and sunny Malaysian sky. But that’s not what’s so strange about it. What’s strange is that it’s Malaysian sky.

The view is different. And the sounds that resound through the air are different as well. My room is somewhat an earshot away from the Surau and my mornings are usually punctuated by the early morning call to prayer.

But different is good. I’m loving living out my life in this foreign soil. This is what I’ve always wanted, right?

Sure, the language is somewhat crazy. “Uhh.. boleh cakap perlahan-lahan?”

And the weather is often agonizingly hot. “Sangat panas. Sangaaat panaaaassss…”

And public transportation leaves a lot to be desired. “Ayy.. Alamak.”

But the benefits of staying here override all the sacrifices that have been and still have to be made.

I close my eyes for a moment and let one last breeze caress my cheeks and I rise, ready to move on with the rest of the day.

The 10:00 am sunshine has already broken through, and now it’s time to move on to the rest of the day.

In the Shoes of an Eight-Year-Old

Trying to fit myself into the shoes of an eight-year-old. Just a little story to keep me (and you all) from going insane. Been a while since I tried something like this, so I hope you enjoy it. : )

 

– Puteri –
by Mari Anjeli Lubrica
March 2, 2010

Our class has an assignment – Teacher gave it to us this morning. In my mind’s eye, I can still see how she wrote those startling white words across the school blackboard:

“Standard 2 Assignment Number 1: Draw a picture of yourself and bring it to class next week.”

I wanted to protest. I wanted to raise my hand and say, “Teacher, can you give us another assignment? This one is too difficult.” But I didn’t. All my other classmates looked very excited and I knew that, though Teacher would smile kindly at me, she would just say, “No, Puteri. That is your assignment. I will not change it. Bring the drawing to class next week.”

I wanted to cry when Ayah picked me up from school. He gave me a gentle look, and when I put on my seatbelt, he asked, “Is everything okay, Puteri?”

“Mmmm.” I did not want him to know how worried I was about school and my assignment. I tried to give my Ayah a smile but he just raised his eyebrows.

“If you say so.”

I hurried out of the car once we arrived home and ran to my room, looking for a box of crayons. Though the assignment was good for one whole week, I wanted to finish it quickly, so that I would not have to think about it anymore.

But I did not find any crayons in my room. Of course, there weren’t any THERE. I didn’t draw. I couldn’t. My Ayah drew, and he even painted. So did my big brother. So did my big sister. But not me. I couldn’t draw.

So I went to my big sister’s room and saw a box of beautiful crayons. But I wasn’t sure if I wanted to touch it or use it. I was afraid that I would only break the beautiful set.

I went back to my room and took my writing pencil from my schoolbag. The lead was blunt because I had used it the whole day. The eraser was almost gone, and the body had bite marks all over it – I chewed on my pencil whenever I got sad or nervous.

That would have to do.

I brought my writing tablet out (I could not bear to draw on a nice white piece of paper) and started to draw. Or tried to draw.

First I tried to draw a circle and put in two small dots that would have to do for my eyes. Then I drew a line in the place where you would probably find my neck.

Ugly.

I ripped the paper out from my tablet, crumpled it up, and threw it across my room.

So I tried to draw another picture. An oblong – I had seen my big sister draw it this way. And then lines for hair. Small half circles for eyes.

Ugly, ugly, ugly.

I ripped out the paper, crumpled it up, and also threw that one across my room.

I had seen my big brother use squiggly lines to make people’s faces. He said that THAT was the proper way to draw. Maybe I could try that. I tried to do a squiggle – but it did NOT look like a person.

Ugly, ugly, ugly!

There were now three crumpled up pieces of paper lying on the floor across my room.

Tears were filling up my eyes as I angrily scribbled hard black lines on my tablet. If I submitted that big, black mess to my teacher, it would be okay, because I was like that mess anyway. The drawing didn’t look like anything because – fiddlesticks – I wasn’t good enough for anything anyway. I was just a tiny, tiny mess of a person who doesn’t know how to draw.

I did not hear my Ayah come in.

“Puteri, is everything alright?”

I did not answer.

“Puteri?”

I looked at my Ayah, bursting into tears. “We’re supposed to draw a picture of ourselves for our assignment!” I showed him my picture. “I can’t do it! I cannot draw!”

Ayah smiled at me gently and came to my side, a box of brand new crayons and a piece of white paper in his hands. “Here, Puteri. Let me help you.”

With one hand, my Ayah wiped away my tears, and with the other, placed a brown crayon in my right hand. With his right hand guiding mine, he helped me draw the shape of a girlish face. He took a red piece of crayon, placed it in my hand, and helped me draw a smile. He took a purple one, let my fingers hold it, and helped me draw a beautiful dress. He then took a yellow one, placed that last crayon in my hands, and helped me draw a crown.

“There you go, Puteri. There’s your drawing of yourself.”

I was amazed because I was holding in my hand a beautiful drawing of a princess.

I looked at my Ayah, saw his loving smile, and smiled back at him.

“Thank you, Ayah.”

“You’re welcome, my Puteri.”

I looked at the beautiful Puteri and felt very excited to hand in my beautiful, beautiful assignment.

I’ve Got Mail!

I’m in the state of euphoria. I want to jump up and down, twirl around, and sing, sing, sing at the top of my lungs.

Forgive me. But I’ve got mail.

No, not e-mail.

real mail!

Real mail. Aunt Pena’s package had come in last week and it was timing that the crazy dorm matters brought me to the Za’ba office this afternoon. I went to the office to inquire about my reservation for the next semester and was waiting in line when Abang Kholid called out – “Mari, is that you? You have a package.” Oh. My. I have a package!!!

Define bliss.

I so love receiving letters, notes, and packages of any kind. Letters make up a big part of my love language – I give out notes and letters to make people feel loved – and when I’m on the receiving end – well, you’re sure to get a happy, happy, happy Mari.

Happy, happy, happy, happy.

I would have skipped my way back from the office to my room if I hadn’t been thinking about my reputation as a Masters student. But I walked gracefully and once I’ve gotten inside the safety of my room – well, let me just say that I became a bit undignified.

I used every amount of self-control to keep myself from ripping the box open. Hey, I was excited. But once opened – Oh, if only you could see how my eyes lit up when I saw those two beautiful packages of beautiful, beautiful, beautiful cards. Cards made by loving hands. Cards made by one so passionate and so in love with art, that she used her gift and her talent to bless, encourage, and inspire the recipients of those wonderful creations.

I drank in the colours, inhaled the papery cardboard smell, and fingered all the wonderful textures. After having a rough start to my week, those cards were more than a breath of fresh air. Already I thought of all the words that could go inside those cards, of all the cards’ future recipients. Mmmm.

And then I saw that sealed envelope. With my name written in front. A note. I opened the envelope and saw a purple-orange masterpiece inside. I was deeply touched by the short, yet inspiring note from my Nanny Pena. There were a few lines written inside, but my favourite was this one:

“Keep pursuing your dreams.”

My Nanny’s cards are a mark of her pursuing hers. And I am so, so, blessed, encouraged, and inspired. I will continue to pursue my dreams.

Thanks, Nanny. : )