Sunday, August 31, 2014

Leaving home again

Bags almost packed and almost ready to go, in two days that is. This is going to be such an adventure.

In a way I am fortunate that my work takes me places and provides new experiences but still it is always difficult to leave home where your loved ones are. Luckily things are not that bad this time round due to the fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) nature of this assignment though I have heard of depression cases especially around the time one is about to depart for the next rotation. As a fairly independent and strong-willed person, I don't think FIFO will get to me like that but I guess you can never be sure of something you haven't been through.

As I was setting up my roster in my spreadsheet, I started thinking about what I should do during my 4-week R & Rs. This is really a rare opportunity as not many full-time workers can get to enjoy such regular long  breaks and I feel that I should not waste them. But going on holidays means spending more time away from boo after being away for so long not to mention spending more money. I think we must somehow achieve a compromise by vacationing together for short nearby trips and not making the solo trips too long.

The roster for FIFO rotations is never cast in stone due to uncertain project requirements and on top of that I have to co-ordinate all plans with my back-to-back (the person I take over when he goes on his break who will do the same for me) so a 4-week on/4-week off rotation can become 5/3, 6/4, 3/2, or any other permutation one can think of. This makes the booking of air tickets and lining up holiday plans and accommodation very challenging (and expensive as nothing can really be booked in advance).

That being said, I know I will somehow successfully manage my 6 (at least) breaks. From the list of things I can do during those 4 weeks, you can see that there is no shortage of ideas. I really hope I don't just let procrastination win out and waste my precious breaks. To date my R & R plans include:

1. Spending some time back in Singapore (Chinese New Year with family and Pink Dot with my gay friends).

2. Short trips to nearby Asian destinations (Bangkok during Songkran for an long-overdue fashion pilgrimage where I stock up on cheap apparel and Bali where I have always wanted to visit, hopefully with someone familiar with that place).

3. A trip to Japan with boo (FINALLY!) and I am thinking of spending more time in Hokkaido instead of Tokyo this time.

4. Vegetating at home with boo completing new (the much-anticipated Dragon Age: Inquisition) and yet-to-be-finished Xbox 360 games.

5. Hosting my mum in Melbourne and taking her to every single attraction here, including the more interesting suburbs (I have not really spent full non-working weeks with her in Australia before and I finally have the chance to now).

6. Getting re-acquainted with Manhattan (I used to go there almost every weekend when I was working in New Jersey 10 years ago). I am thinking of spending 3 to 4 weeks just living there and re-exploring the island in much more detail (I would need to find a local willing to put me up though).

7. Keeping vacation spots to within Australia (going back to Ashby with boo to visit the in-laws, accompanying him to Sydney when he is there to attend a friend's wedding and 2-day trips with him to the hot springs in Mornington Peninsula or bed & breakfast in Yarra Valley).

8. I am also thinking of visiting Europe although it is quite unlikely at this point as I don't really want to explore Europe alone.

It is spring tomorrow and the weather in Melbourne today is perfect but I will not get to enjoy that much as it is constantly-pouring in Papua New Guinea (monsoon season perhaps—PNG weather seems to be very uncertain). And to make things worse, the volcanic eruption from Mount Tavurvur yesterday has a potential of affecting my flights next week (I really hope I will be promptly-informed if that's the case).

Seeing that I will be working and living in the remote highlands, I don't foresee any chance of a photo shoot (amongst other things typical in the developed world) but there is a gym in the camp and I will keep my routine up in order to maintain my body in a shoot-ready condition. I actually hope to use this time to bulk up a little more as there is really not much to do other than work, eat, gym and sleep. I might also have more time to compose, that is if I don't exhaust all my energy after 12-hour work days (7 days a week) and gym.

As I said, it is going to be an adventure and I am so looking forward to it. I will provide a pictorial update when I am settled in but till then happy spring!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Musical journey (49)

I am pleased to announce that I am a proud holder of the Papua New Guinea work visa! Props to myself for enduring the 4-month long application process and I am now a little more than a fortnight away from the day I fly. Seeing that I must sync my work cycle with my counterpart, they could either put me on a 6-week on/6-week off or a 2-week on/2-week off first rotation (followed by the normal 4-on/4-off for the rest of my stint). Fortunately they agree with me that doing 12-hour days for 42 days straight might be a little much for a first rotation especially when I have not been on that site or lived in that remote camp before.

So for my first rotation, I will only be working 2 weeks and then I will have a 2-week paid vacation (my colleagues are so envious of me right now)! Since it is only going to be a relatively-short break, I think I will just be spending time with my boo at home (finishing an Xbox 360 game that I always wanted to play in the process) and maybe squeeze in a weekend getaway to the hot springs in Mornington (I know Ision has been dying to go). I am so looking forward to leaving the wretched project that I am doing right now at work and embarking on this whole new adventure!

OK, life update over and now on to this month's musical offering, which is a composition documenting how one tortures himself in his pursuit of love. There is a variety of ways a person can knowingly (or otherwise) fall into this pattern of self-harm and these are just ten examples that quickly come to mind:

1) Having a crush on someone who has no feelings for you and expecting the love to be requited someday.

2) Forgiving someone repeatedly for cheating on you because you feel that you can't find someone better.

3) Hiding the pain of loneliness by telling others that you are perfectly fine being alone.

4) Finding excuses for not being able to settle down yet loathing your superficial promiscuous lifestyle.

5) Being in a loveless marriage for the sake of kids.

6) Diving into a relationship too fast not knowing what you want exactly.

7) Convincing yourself as a heterosexual that your gay partner will successfully change (or already has).

8) Failing to realise that you are to blame for always being dumped (or being chronically-single).

9) Claiming that you are in a monogamous relationship but constantly sleeping around with other people.

10) Hating someone who broke your heart and not being able to move on or trust another person again.

Some might disagree with item 9 being a form of self-torture but if you believe in karma, what you do to hurt others will come back eventually to damage you in some way. Although there are many forms this unhealthy behaviour can take, the common thing is that you made the conscious choice to engage in such acts. In my opinion only when you admit that to yourself can the healing process begin, much like in AA groups where every one introduces themselves with "Hi, I am XXX and I am an alcoholic".

And with this concept of self-harm in the search of love, I wrote this song. The story in the piece is not a personal one but I can relate to it all too well—I used to purposely make myself feel worse when I was alone or heartbroken by being around happy couples. I believed back then that even if I had nothing, I still had the ability to feel pain. This is a classic manifestation of self-torture and we should snap out of it as soon as possible—that is only if we are made aware of it and I hope this month's musical journey can play a little part in making the self-awareness process easier.


词 / 曲 : 锦泉










There are certain kinds of people in this world we should not love
But I was unable to avoid bad luck
And got myself knee-deep in helplessness

I don't really know whether love or hate is more real
But I cannot regret now that I placed my bet with everything I have
Now that I am burdened with the debt of heartbreak

I cannot solve the mystery of love
Because the answers are lost in a sea of hate
I am busy competing with time
Because I want to find out who will give up faster

I cannot control the desire to torture myself
I can only feel better when tears actually fall
If my destiny has arranged for the worst
I have no one else to blame
And all I can do is to continue betraying my flesh

I cannot control the desire to torture myself
Me and myself are constantly hurting each other
Nightmares in a vicious cycle blocking the future from my view
Simply because there is no one who can replace you
And there is your cold shoulder to lean on
You are like a blade but still I enjoy holding you tightly in an embrace