Daily Archives: July 26, 2011
Here are the two stanzas that I was inspired to re-write… It’s only my second attempt at writing a Chinese song so do pardon my amateurishness. Google Translator was my buddy during this song-writing exercise. I tried to think and write like 阿信 (Ashin, lead singer of 五月天) but I had to make do with being 阿舍 (Asher, erm, me) instead. This was what I came up with…
走遍整世界 尝全美食 天堂 在你身边
心碎了流泪 我抱着你 答应 我非不变
争取了学位 烂歌俳句 为你 写多一些
萎缩的结局 馒头白发 梦想 十个孩子
The rest of the song (click here for its translation), written by the brilliant 阿信, goes like this:
昨天谁让你 受过伤 今天想要让你 都遗忘
是你 爱你让我变的更强 为你战斗永不投降
如果这一生 到尽头 换你的这句话 很足够
是你 爱你让我变的更强 为你战斗永不投降
The two stanzas were loosely based on a poem that I’ve written for her a couple of weeks ago (for the purpose of the proposal), which I would recite just before I asked her to marry me. For those whose Mandarin is equally as atrocious as mine, here’s a rough English translation of what I’ve written above:
I’ve travelled the world and tasted all kinds of cuisines
But my paradise is to be beside you
My favourite dinner and the dish I crave for the most
Is still the spinach broth that you cook
When your heart breaks or when your tears fall,
I’ll hold you in my arms and promise I will never change
I want to experience every minute and second with you,
And share every trophy and tragedy together
I’d earn another degree, compose another song and write another haiku,
All and only for you
I want to be your superman forever
Even if it means wearing my underwear as my helmet
My body will shrivel and your head will burst with white hair
As I daydream about our ten children
To be able to hold your wrinkled hand when we’re old and gray,
That is the goal of my life
On a side note, it’s amazing how the Chinese language is so much more efficient yet so much more elaborate than the English language. I used words that I didn’t even know the pinyin to (and so I had to learn how to pronounce it)!
Next chapter: the music that changed the mood.
The song that defined our relationship thus far (and our would-be proposal) was 让我照顾你 by 五月天. I rewrote the verses to contextualise it into our relationship and spent an evening recording it at Johann’s place. I spent a week rehearsing the song on my guitar, after I spent an evening learning how to play it on the guitar from Joel. I don’t play the guitar regularly so my tender finger tips were on the verge of splitting due to a week of unfamiliar overuse.
I am an ambitious sanguine and the original idea was to get Joel to teach me how to play the song on the piano. The plan was to perform the song on the piano and sing it live to her. It was a double-challenge with a difficulty that was magnified four times over.
Firstly, I can barely bang chords on the piano. Secondly, I’m a typical ACS boy and typical ACS boys do not sing Chinese songs. Thirdly, I had to do play the piano and sing the chinese song simultaneously while composing myself in public. Fourthly, I gave myself only a week to master this. And finally, unlike an acoustic guitar that uses battery power, a portable keyboard required a power outlet for it to produce sound.
Basically, it only seemed like a sound decision (no pun intended) to do something a lot more achievable – play the guitar and sing. It was actually Joel’s wisdom that helped me make this decision. He lovingly cautioned, “Joe, if you really want to play the piano and sing this song to her, I will do everything I can to help you succeed. But don’t you want to be able to look her in the eye and sing those lyrics to her instead of focussing on the next piano keys to play?”
So I heeded his advice and reverted to my tried and tested Cort.
Next chapter: the most romantic amateur Chinese song.
Suffice to say, planning an event of this magnitude would inevitably bring about tension felt and tempers flared. And I’m no angel. I have a foul temper (that only the closest friends experience) and unfortunately, Cheryl faced the brunt of it. I regret my outburst until this day. But on hindsight, the conflict we had served to strengthen our friendship so much more.
She was that one person I knew I could count on and she played a dual role in this proposal. Firstly, she was my quality-controller; I ran almost all my plans through her – from the many overarching ideas down to the colour of the tidbit jar. I didn’t need her to make decisions for me, but the best way for me to think and decide was to have someone to talk me through my thoughts as I verbalised them. She played this pivotal role and she was superb in every role that I needed her to play.
But she dropped a huge bombshell on me. She could neither make it for the proposal nor the engagement party because it was Founder’s Day for her school and as a teacher (and someone in the organising committee), there was no way she could have, as much as she desired to, miss an annual event for an event of a lifetime. Ironic, but true. And we were both gutted by it.
However, I didn’t express my disappointment properly and ended up flaring up at her for not being able to turn up. My reaction was uncharacteristically petty, completely unreasonable, unnecessarily dramatised and certainly regrettable. I was shocked at some of the expressions I used to describe my disappointment at her impending absence.
I didn’t throw abusive language at her of course, but the content of my message was definitely abrasive and there was no reason for me to behave in that manner. It was unbecoming from a youth pastor and her ministry leader, of all people. And I was ashamed of how I had conducted myself.
And all this was in light of her creating the entire guestbook for me… It was an amazing effort, really, and I appreciate it so much more because I’m terrible with arts and crafts. She had skipped her a Bible Study Fellowship session to pick out the best set for me, spent many hours putting it together, as well as put up with my idiosyncrasies and demands.
After I came to my senses, I apologised to her profusely. But the damage was already done and there was a lot I had to do to repair the cracks in the friendship I introduced. I asked her for her grace and forgiveness, and to give me an opportunity to win her trust again. Well, I shall leave out details of our conflict… And of course, I wouldn’t have mentioned this unless we had already reconciled… Today, our friendship today is stronger than ever.
I’ve decided to include this episode in my proposal story because I wanted to state that planning for this engagement wasn’t just physically demanding, but it also took a toll on me emotionally. I stepped on some toes along the way, and I am sure that I may step on a few more as I plan for the wedding next August. But I have learnt my lesson – people are more important than events, even if that event is of extreme significance. I shall carry that into the next year.
The other reason I’ve included this anecdote was to highlight the strength of Christian fellowship. And Cheryl epitomised it for me. In fact, everyone who was involved in my proposal in big and small ways, are examples of how precious Christian fellowship is. It tested the solidity of my friendship and while I failed the test, I passed the exam by the grace of God.
Next chapter: the time to face the music.
Preparing for this elaborate proposal required a number of props, and since it was my proposal, I wanted to accomplish most of it by myself as much as possible. I sought help of course, on matters that I didn’t consider myself familiar with.
I approached Hilary to ask him to recommend a professional printer. I liaised with a printing company and paid for five A2 and three A3 full colour prints on PP sticker with a five millimetre kappaline mounting. And I made my way to the obscure Kallang Bahru on Wednesday to pick up the prints, since delivery wasn’t worth it for such a small quantity. I took leave on Thursday to complete the remaining errands. I had no idea printing these things were so costly…
I started my day at IMM where I spent an unimaginably long time in Daiso and Giant, picking out tiny plastic bags for goodie bags (so that everyone who turned up at the party took home something), a magic chalkboard as a prop for photo-taking, seven glass cookie jars to store sweets, five luminous paint markers, and a whole stack of tidbits.
It was there and then that I discovered that I have decidophobia (no kidding!). I became unexpectedly stressed at having to choose from the huge variety that was available to me. I even made distress calls to Cheryl, Melody, Yixian and Keith because I started to panic so much. Cheryl and Keith were amused by it but realised shortly that I was seriously distressed, so they patiently walked me through every decision that I had to make at those supermarkets. It was the most stressful errand, ever!
Besides helping me to record the song, Johann was also generous enough to restore my guitar to showroom condition, including drying, cleaning and dressing it with a new set of strings. Having my guitar restored was also helpful for my worship set at J333 (the Wednesday prayer meeting) anyway.
But as you would know by now, it seems like I never get to do things the easy way… The E-string snapped during soundcheck and I was frustrated, not because I had to use an inferior guitar, but because I had to buy a new string! So I swung by the Clementi Yamaha and to my horror they ran out of E-strings. But fret not (no pun intended!) for I simply purchased a new set of strings.
After Clementi, I made my way to Holland Village to make orders and pay for eight tubs of ice-cream at The Daily Scoop and arranged with Wei Kurk to help me pick it up on Friday, before the engagement party. I also swung by Party City to order enough helium-filled balloons to fill the function room. It was my first time ordering balloons and I got shocked at how expensive these items were considering they only had an eight-hour lifespan! I paid for it nonetheless and arranged with Xianyi to receive the balloons at the function room on Friday evening.
My last stop was back to the office at Tanglin Road, where I dumped the loot and packed them into plastic bags, with labels on each of them for my crew to pick up; Gideon picked up the guitar, guitar stand, projector and placards, while Keith picked up the logistics needed for the engagement party.
Oh, did I mention that it was pouring this entire time and that I didn’t have an umbrella? Okay, I just did. And I accomplished all these errands without a car. Yes, I had to make do with public transport the entire time, carrying with me big and small, heavy and bulky plastic bags. And I completed all these errands just in time to meet Huiyi at her office to head for her birthday dinner together with her family. Perhaps this justifies why I forgot to buy her birthday cake that day.
Next chapter: the one regrettable conflict.