Archive for December, 2009


So it’s been two weeks. And the words have been running out, petering from an empty shell. I feel like a shadow of my former self: I know I exist, aware of the person I am, with some vague idea of who I should be like, but it’s as if I walk, talk, breathe, without substance, without anchor. Something invisible, perhaps God, perhaps the last vestiges of memory, holds everything together, held fast by gossamer threads spun from a lifetime.

Reservist training ended a week ago. The army and I share a tempestuous relationship; in many ways my national service represents one of my greatest failures, a clock that can never be turned back, a past with too many ‘what ifs’  and regrets. And yet it shares with me one of my greatest joys.

Memory. A lifetime ago. Back in the jungle where I was born. The sweet plastic smell of camouflage paint heavy under my nostrils. Chin strap slick with sweat, tropical heat burning underneath my skin, nails and hair, the dead weight of my rifle pulling at my neck, a familiar shape in my hands. Heavy leather boots dusted with mud and crushed undergrowth weighing my feet down like an anchor. All physical discomfort a dull cry in the back of my head.

Wandering in the darkness, my eyes gleaming in the moonlight, weaving through the trees with the shadows, treading across a jungle floor full of history, of ancient villages and scared young men too far from home. I was never afraid.  Never. Instead I welcomed every moment, each problem a promise of new thrill and adventure, the ghosts never close enough to touch me. Alive. Come home again.

Then everything imploded, exploded, like ball bearings streaking with shrapnel, and I was crying in my pillow that fateful night, with the word ‘why’ mouthed through a grimace and soundless lips. In some ways like Ronnie Barnhardt, the poor fool who built a life around something that could never offer him what he truly wanted.

Some days, I imagine and I think I understand why everything happened the way it did, but most of the time it is a bitter pill to swallow. Some things we can redeem, and see restoration. But some things, whether good for us or not, are only lost forever.

Notes From The DMZ

“This is really an incredible place, you know.

“This is a city stuck in between everything. This doesn’t feel like any recognizable place anymore. Certainly doesn’t feel like America.”

“This F.S.A officer I know said that, too.”

“I don’t mean like that. The F.S.A says they’re the “real” America now, and maybe they are, but this city, the people who are left here… like your friend Zee… they don’t belong to either side. This is like a whole new tribe, a new culture. I can’t imagine what’s going to happen here when the war ends.”

“When I got here I thought this city was just full of these lunatics, totally out of control. That’s how it looks from the outside. But from here? Everyone’s just normal. That’s what I want to show people.

“This is a war of extremes pushing against each other. But the stories lie in the middle. Here, in the city. That’s the interesting stuff. ”

Man I want to write something like this.

Musings: The Marked ’09 Opening Video

Whoa. This year has been one where I’ve seen God take me to places I’ve never been — metaphorically speaking — a journey in which I’ve seen incredible stretching, undeserved favour and His tangible presence manifesting in every area of my life: relationships, ministry, work, family; I believe that 2009 will always be to me a season of astronomical growth, a dektos year, one in which I’ve tasted and seen my Abba’s goodness.

2009 also marks plenty of first for me — one of them being asked to shoot and direct (with a lot of help, I might add) a video for the ministry — this being the Marked ’09 GenRev camp. Not only was I blessed with the privilege of being able to shoot a video, it also allowed me to test out the capabilities of my DSLR (all the non-interview footage was shot with the 5DMKII, whose full HD video mode broke my system; Zixiang and I had to use Sam Quek’s MacBook Pro to edit this).

As harrowing, exhausting and time-consuming video shooting can be, I have to say I enjoyed it thoroughly and learnt plenty, even though we had a skeleton crew for the first day (only myself for the second) and no fancy equipment (pretty much only the camera and tripod). The street footage was random at best — sat around in Raffles Place on a weekday evening, trekked up the Fort Road flyover for the timelapse, tied my tripod to the car’s front passenger seat with scotch tape to shoot street lamps, or had Yoshie help to film the moving road shots as I drove — but it was an experience in itself.

But thank God that I was blessed with a big-hearted cast with seemingly-infinite patience (the waiting time can be incredibly testing), a tireless editor (Zixiang, who pretty much taught me everything I know about Premiere now), Sam Q (who oversaw and advised us on the editing direction) and Yosh (whose creativity never ceases to surprise and amaze me; she did the boards all by herself).

The concept of the video was fairly straightforward, and gave me the perfect excuse to use Explosions in the Sky music.

First we had some emo-ness, to depict some connection to the reality of working adults everywhere:

Frantic Esther Ann flagging an imaginary cab

Marc & Ken as ‘business partners’ having a spat (Ken’s CG loved him)
While the street footage used in the video was only a fraction of the immense amounts I shot, since we limited it to the ‘office workers’ set:
Lurking around Raffles Place in the evening
At one of the Queen St party shops

Along Stamford Rd, waiting for Yosh

I also had the chance to throw in some cameos, such as Nikki (below), Joana, Diana, Grace Lee, Shawn..

The focus is off I know, but this was the first time I was actually using the video mode 😛

But of course, God’s word and promises reign, so we had some scenes of defiance/triumphant-ness and general happiness..

Grace Khaw; this was a weekend, so we had Cindy to walk past in the background to give the scene some semblance of the contrast between stillness and motion
And also some goofing around:

Marked people eat at Burger King
This is actually my favourite part – where the scenes lead up to and from the climax of the song (First Breath After Coma!):

not alone

Download link available upon request 🙂