Friday, 15 November 2019

The Hypoglycaemia Hullaballoo

Yo everyone. So today ended up being an unexpectedly dramatic kinda day. At around 8:15am, someone knocked on my door, and when I opened it, my dad and mum were in brother Kev's room, and Dad was saying, "Something's wrong with Kev, we need to get him to the hospital." Turns out he'd gone into a hypoglycaemic state again, which wasn't the first time. But this time it seemed to be worse than before, as Kev was unable to even form words and couldn't stand up (compared to the time a few years ago when he was at least able to stand, even if the low blood sugar had rendered him zombiefied).

Thus began a whole escapade of trying to get Kev dressed (not easy when he's unresponsive and unable to even sit up on his bed), with Dad frantically asking him questions and him not replying. At a certain point Dad and I had to help him down the stairs, which was a task in and of itself. Dad nearly went toppling down with Kev in tow, what with my bro being a dead weight and all in his zonked-out state. Fortunately we managed (with great effort) to bring him downstairs and eventually into the car, but not before plying him with glucose drinks and honey water.

As all this was happening, my little doggy Kerbie was scampering around in excitement, jumping up and off Kev's bed, to the point that we had to tell her to not get in the way. Even downstairs, she ran circles around us... and it was only later that we considered that Kerbie hadn't been zooming around in excitement, but rather agitation and stress. After all, she's an intuitive one, that Kerbie. Ashley, on the other hand, slept right through... :P

Anyway. With Dad being so frantic, I opted to drive us to the nearest hospital, where Kev was promptly aided into a wheelchair and wheeled off for testing and whatnot. Fortunately, an hour or so of waiting later, he was back to almost-normal, the medics having given him a glucose drip and ensuring that he was recovering. You know my brother's back to being his own self when he starts complaining and griping about every little thing... only this time, my folks weren't especially unhappy to hear it!!

So this story ends today on a positive note, thank heavens, although in the spirit of full tragicomedy, I'd parked the car right outside the hospital gate without a parking ticket... and later on, when I went to check on the car, wouldn't you know it: we'd been fined. What, no leniency for an emergency situation?! Grr. Arrgh.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Kuching Pt 3

Here are official photos from our performance of Lost/Found in Kuching. All pics by Jee Photography. First up, at the Old Courthouse:

Then at Location X, which was a former supermarket that will (sadly) soon be demolished. It was quite an experience, doing a show in a site-specific location that had a lot of ambience and character!

That concludes my Kuching adventure. More updates on Lost/Found to come... nope, it ain't over yet!

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Kuching, Pt 2

Upon our arrival at Kuching airport.
Production meeting in the Old Courthouse venue.
Having coffee with my roomie Kenny.
Another shot of the entourage.
Sampling Dayak food at Lepau restaurant. Below: Rice
wrapped in banana leaves. The Dayak are an indigenous
people in Sarawak.

The biggest serving of hor fun I've ever seen! In a tomato-based
gravy, which is how it's served in Kuching.
Adry and I on the sampan boat to get layer cake!
View of the boat 'driver'.
Our violinist Andrea and Tria at Location X on Sunday.
More pics to come... specifically, of the performances! Stay tuned!!

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Kuching, Pt 1

Hey all! Yikes, almost midway through November already, haha! What's been happening? Well, the bulk of October was taken up with rehearsals for my new show Lost/Found, which is actually a compendium of my short musicals written over the years, plus some original stuff added to thread it all together. We had rehearsals most weeknights and even an 8-hour-plus-long Sunday once; and a few days before we were due to go on tour to our first destination, Kuching in East Malaysia, I had a bout of the flu, which was as exciting as flus tend to be... but all in all, everything went swimmingly well, and the tour was a lot of fun!

The group of us (cast, director, choreographer, stage manager and co-musician) met at the ungodly hour of 5:45am on Wednesday, Oct 23, at the bus terminal in 1Utama to hop on the shuttle service to the budget terminal. Then it was a 9am flight, 2 hours or so long (which was too long for anxious old me), to Sarawak, where we landed safely and proceeded to check into our hotel. At least, most of us did; I ended up tagging along with Chris (director) and Adry (SM), as well as our host SL, to get some food and buy some materials for the staging in Kuching. At one of the stores, my eyes fell upon a cock-eyed stupid-looking stuffed chicken, who I promptly fell in love with and purchased. We named him Kuching in tribute to our tour, and Kuching became our official mascot in Kuching. (Fun fact: 'Kuching' actually means 'cat' in Malay, so in effect Kuching the Chicken was Cat the Chicken.)

Literally cock-eyed.
All in all we were in Kuching (the town, not the chicken) for six days, returning to KL on the following Monday night. We did four shows: three at The Old Courthouse, a lovely venue not far from the Meritin Hotel where we stayed (I bunked with the choreographer Kenny, who's a fun roommate to have because he seems to be an extroverted introvert like I am, and so, at the end of the day, we could both chill in the room without feeling the need to interact with each other. Bliss). The fourth show was held at a venue called Location X, which (fun fact) used to be an old supermarket but was shut down and the space transformed into an events location (soon to be demolished, sadly). Here are some photos:

Setting up the Old Courthouse performance space.
With our VIP after Friday night's show, Zee Avi.
Acting like the tourists that we were.
The rest of the time in Kuching was spent wandering about and exploring the vicinity of our hotel and performance spaces; shopping for traditional Sarawak layer cake, which included a trip across a small river via sampan boat to a small village; and eating waaaay too much kolo mee, haha!

I'll come back soon with more on this little trip (including performance photos and more pics), as well as what's coming up... don't go away!

View of the sampan boat and river to get to the layer cake!
To be continued...

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Brintellix, Bedrooms and Blue Walls

Yo. End of September, so much for keeping this blog alive on a regular basis, haha! What's been happening? Well, about five weeks ago I started on a new antidepressant, Brintellix (not the one I'd previously blogged about... that one wasn't working too well), and for about a week I felt the best I'd felt for the longest time – without feeling any side effects apart from lighter sleep. I mention side effects because when the previous antidepressant I was on – Cymbalta – worked, it was often accompanied by the sense that everything was slightly heightened: my sight, my hearing, my awareness, etc... all of it would be slightly sharper, louder, clearer; there would be an almost detached, swimming sensation accompanying the good mood, which also meant it was exhausting. With Brintellix I felt none of that. It seemed to be the best meds that I'd been on in a while, and I couldn't have been happier.

Until it stopped. Yup, about ten days in, after I'd proudly proclaimed on Instagram that this was the one... my body seemed to get used to the drug and its effect completely neutralised. And then ... the bad moods were back, the mood lows, the melancholy. Once you've hit that point of thinking you'd found the right one, trust me, the drop back to "reality" is even more disappointing and upsetting. Sigh.

So the reason I haven't really been updating is because I've just been fighting it all over again. I continued on Brintellix for an entire month until last Monday, when I visited the doc, told him about it, and he upped the dose to twice the usual daily amount. I'm happy to report that 2xBrintellix seems to be working marginally better; I'm not as gloomy as I was the past couple of weeks, though I still seem prone to fall into the trap of overthinking and melancholic rumination. Still, I haven't reached that "high" of the initial Brintellix experience, and I have the feeling I never will again. Oy.

In the meantime, I've been ploughing forward with the composing for next year's show, but the progress has (perhaps understandably) been slow-moving. And as of next week I'll be in rehearsals for a new production, Lost/Found, which is a collection of my short ten-minute musicals a la 4 in 50: A Mini Musical Marathon which we staged in Perth a couple of years ago. Lost/Found will first be performed in Kuching in East Malaysia, and then we'll have a little break before touring it to KL and Johor Bahru, which is very exciting. I wish my mental state were healthy enough to keep me enthusiastic about this project, but really, I'm fighting back anxiety. Don't get me wrong; I'm grateful that this show is happening! But the brain is just a piece o'sheet, if you get my drift. Still, I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so... let's do this!

What else? Oh yes... in an effort to keep myself physically preoccupied and to boost my mental state, last Wednesday (25th Sept) I decided to declutter my bedroom and rearrange its layout. I also splurged on an unnecessary but extremely welcome luxury: a new Hisense 39" television, bwaha!! I placed it in the dresser space that's part of the built-in wardrobe in my bedroom. Fun fact: the seller originally offered to upgrade the telly FOR FREE to a 40" set, but I had to tell him no because the dresser space is only 90cm wide, whereas the 40" telly would be the equivalent of 90.8cm or something like that. Meanwhile, the 39" set was around 89cm, arf arf!! It fit perfectly in the space, and now I'm luxuriating in bed watching tv shows and movies. Bliss. Here are some pics!

The old configuration.
The telly came first... a perfect, snug fit!
Rearranged the room, and now my bed faces the telly!
Taa-daa! Decluttered. I kinda regret the new silver-white linoleum though...
it makes the room look too bright and clean. Oh well. Live and learn.
I'll probably splash some paint on the walls...
...Much like I did with this blue accent wall. Here's the view of my work area from
the bed. Can't wait to get my hands on some paint to do more wall refurbishing!

Saturday, 17 August 2019

One And A Half Decades!!!

Oh my!! I've completely gone and forgotten to commemorate the 15th anniversary(!!!) of this blog, which was started on 4 Aug 2004! Yikes!! So sorry about that, boys and girls! There's not a great deal going on, to be honest; composing for next year's Cempaka musical is ongoing, and that's really about it, haha! Which isn't bad, of course. In fact, as of yesterday I officially completed the composing and demoing work for Act I, and the client today told me that they're really happy with it, so YAY. Act II to commence, as well as scoring for the first Act, which means I'm actually going to get even busier in days to come!

I'm actually very chuffed with the work I'm creating for the new show, so here's another sneak peek of some of the music. You can view the words with greater clarity by clicking full-screen:

Cool hey??

Hopefully I'll have more to share soon (in the meantime, follow me on Instagram and you can keep abreast with my rather mundane day-to-day through InstaStories). And once again, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, Madcap Memoirs! How insane is it that I've (for the most part) kept this blog going for 15 years?! Here, check out the very first post again by clicking on the link below. Enjoy!

Monday, 22 July 2019

Kids Are Little Shits, As My Mate Alia Says

Hey all. It's been a while, sorry about the lack of updates. I've been busy working on the new musical for next year's Cempaka production, which had momentarily been stalled but which I've, thankfully, been able to start composing as of a couple of weeks ago. I'll provide more deets on this show when I'm allowed to, but it's going to be a fun one... assuming I get the job done (which I will). In the meantime, I'm so grateful for the end of my "dry spell" that I thought I'd sneakily share a little bit of music from this next monster-themed moosical... have a listen (and try to count the pop culture references, arf arf!):

(If you go full-screen you can read the text in the vid!)

In the meantime, I'm coming up to four weeks on the new antidepressants, and I have to say it's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. One day I feel fine; the next I don't. The mood has generally improved but last week, especially, I've been feeling very fatigued... the same symptom I had when I first started taking meds (Lexapro) in 2017. This week (urgh, it's only Monday) I'm feeling a bit nauseous, still exhausted, and generally feeling pretty grotty. So I'm not sure that these meds are good for me. I'll be seeing the doc again (for my 3rd visit; second visit was a couple of weeks ago on the 8th) in about a week or so.

To compound the mood, a couple of weeks ago I agreed to musical direct a "musical theatre summer programme for kids at an international school", which is how I was convinced to take on the gig. I won't go into details here, but even something as simple (in theory) as a three-week programme has come with its share of drama: firstly from the organisers simply being disorganised and leaving things to the last minute, and then committing the no-no of downplaying the scale and scope of my role and the showcase seemingly because they were desperate for someone (i.e. me) to take the job.

And then, I found out that the organisers had gone behind my back to try to hire someone to replace me, purportedly because "the guy we have (i.e. me) isn't working out" – a decision made based on two days of me working with the kids, for a cumulative time span of under five hours, during which the organisers themselves weren't even there to observe the goings-on! Apparently the lady boss of the company "panicked" because I didn't have experience directing a show (which is true, and which the other boss of the company had been informed of), and pre-emptively tried to bring someone else on board to unceremoniously replace me.

Suffice it to say, this whole practice of going behind one's back has left a sour taste in my mouth, and the whole process has been a tedious, unenthusiastic one for me because of it. (Not to mention that my moods are generally unpredictable because of the meds; case in point, today is a shit mood day.) Couple that with the fact that the kids are really quite unfocused, undisciplined and lacking interest (or knowledge in general) in musical theatre; that the majority of them don't speak English as a first language; and that they are just plain brats (sorry to say), and it's been a bit of a nightmare. I don't think it would come as any surprise to anyone if I said that I can't wait for this final week to be over.

My poor partner in crime, Afham, teaching some dance moves to the young 'uns.
Don't get me wrong; I'm always grateful for opportunities that come my way and I appreciate that they took a chance on me, but when it comes with unconveyed or incorrect information, and when things are done surreptitiously with no regard for one's capabilities and talent... when micro-managing is involved and the whole thing turns out to be a glorified babysitting job.... well, let's just say that it's a less-than-satisfying gig. And (as I'm sure we all know), these days I don't tend to sugarcoat how I feel. Which makes me unpopular and "difficult to work with", but whatever. My time in this industry is reaching its limit anyway, if you ask me. But we'll get to that as and when. Till then!

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Mood Meds, Take 4: Fight!

Yo, everyone. It's been a difficult past few weeks, with me being so unmotivated and feeling like I've (once again) lost my way. Depression and depression-induced fatigue has been rearing its ugly head, so much so that it reached the point where I had to tell one of my clients that I couldn't work on composing for their musical next year and we'd have to shelve it. Fortunately they said that postponing it wasn't an option due to the commitments they'd already made/announced. I say "fortunately" because sometimes, not having a choice is a good thing when it comes to struggles like this: a little push to help me remain as professional as I can be without bailing "just" because it's a tumultuous time in the old mind and heart.

I've identified that part of why I've been uninspired lately is the fact that composing is such a lonely endeavour and that I'm stuck in my bedroom whenever I have to work on projects. It's not healthy for a depressive (or for anyone in general) to work in one's room, especially with the oh-so-tempting bed within full view all the time. So as of last week I met with a mate who runs a music academy and he has very generously offered to let me do my composing work in his workplace, in one of his music rooms. That's very kind of him and I'm thinking I will take him up on his offer. I was meant to go in starting from this week, but I've put it off because of a couple of factors: firstly —

I've decided to rearrange the layout of my bedroom. See the pics. I'm hoping this will help a little bit; I'm actually feeling a tiny bit more productive with the new configuration that takes me out of the cozy corner where the work desks previously were, allllll the way to the other side of the room where it's a little more "impersonal" (as much as a bedroom can be); and, more importantly, my bed (and Ashley's, where she snoozes) are both behind me out of view. Theoretically that could mean that snoozing becomes less of a temptation. I'm not sure how effective this will be in the long run, but I'd like to give it a shot.

The old layout - work desks tucked away in that corner. Bed in view.
The old layout - view from my bed: empty space across the room.

New layout: a cozy "living space" in that side of the room...
... And my work area now on the far side, with bed/living space out of view.
Spot the Ashley.
The other big development is that I've finally gotten off my ass and dragged myself to see a mental health specialist. Dr Deva came highly recommended, so yesterday I drove into Newtown and hunted about for his office, which is inconspicuously tucked away in an old, rundown building with but a faded sign providing any notice of his workplace's existence. It was a rather sperm-of-the-moment decision, but I had some free time, low motivation and terrible mood yesterday, so I thought I'd suck it up and go see him. Long story short, I spoke to the doc, and now I'm beginning my third round of new antidepressants in the past three years (that's not including the Prozac in the 2010/2011 years). Here are some pics off Instagram since they tell stories:

Fourth time's the charm. Day 1 commenced today.
Other things I've been up to in the past couple of weeks in trying to achieve greater peace of mind: baking! You see, recently my mum and I invested in a new portable convection oven, and we've lately been putting it to good use. We've thus far made a batch of pre-mix peanut butter cookies (gross, too sweet, pre-mix is never a good idea, not sure why we bothered); a coffee cake from scratch (a touch too salty, because of salted butter and added salt... less is more hey?); a passable banana cake; and then - the best one so far — a scrumptious orange sponge cake!!!! — followed by a passable sugee (semolina) cake, the latter of which initially didn't quite taste right and had a hard crust.... it was only after it had "settled" overnight, and after we removed the crusty bottom (heh), that it was more palatable. We're going to give it another try later with a different recipe.

The piece de resistance: a yummy orange cake!!
The not-so-good semolina cake. We forgot to take pics
of the previous baking attempts. Oh well.
I'm going to make creme caramel soon, and so I decided to buy a bunch of ramekins off Lazada, a Malaysian online store. It arrived today: six small ramekins. While I appreciate the vendor's attempt at cushioning the goods, I think two newspapers, three thick individual layers of bubble wrap, a cardboard box and the plastic envelop was a little bit of packaging overkill...

Well, that's about all for now, peeps. Going to take it easy (again) today since it's Day One of Cymbalta, the new antidepressant; I might go to the movies (Mum and I saw Aladdin last night, which was lots of fun), and will also try to keep working on this musical that I'm committed to (the good news is, since moving the furniture about and having honest discussions with the client, some inspiration has been coming back and I've been able to come up with some new tunes. Now onward and upward, I can only hope!!!). Till next time... :) Here's a closing photo:

Sunday, 9 June 2019