save lives, give blood... and always take the cookie

on tuesday i went to the musgrove at the university to give blood. i've done it a fair few times now, so for an occurrence, it was far from unusual.

i went in with john-paul II and as we were in line, miss trunchbull disguised as a nurse came up to us with a styrofoam cup filled with some sort of citrus beverage - made from concentrate or powder sachets. when we politely declined, she retaliated with a menacing look and we accepted in fear. we then had some cookies. i had two dry shortbread biscuits that stuck to the top of my palate and a chocolate covered turkish delight biscuit which was deeelightful. i'd eaten a sandwich about ten minutes before so i was certainly far from famished.

the wait was long. but it was okay. it's nice to have company. john-paul II and i got called up at the same time so we decided to race. alas, he won by around ten seconds, hence i followed him out the door about ten seconds after he'd exited. we needed to find computers to continue with our homework; the common areas were full. we walked down to some obscure place with computers free and at this point a wave of illness washed over me.

"is there a bathroom i think i need to... (i walk into a table) i can't see... (i sit down) i can't see..." apparently my head fell onto the table. john-paul II helped me up and attempted to take me out for some fresh air... five steps and i was on the ground. he broke my fall.

i regained consciousness to someone saying, "i think she's seizing," and i wanted to reply, "no i'm not," but i couldn't as i was foaming at the mouth. i awoke and attempted to sit down only to be pushed back down by a patron on the phone to the emergency services: 111. i looked around at the unfamiliar faces that surrounded me and said, "where's john paul II?" someone replies, "he's run up to the musgrove to call for some help." oh no! "he can't run up! he's just given blood! and he's an asthmatic!"

john paul II comes panting down with stud (who thought too, that he required attention), the blood donation nurse who recognised me from the time before for interrogates me about whether or not i ate a cookie from the cookie jar.
"who me?"
"yes you."
"couldn't be."
"then who?"
not me; i didn't eat a cookie after i'd given blood. 'twas a mistake in accordance with stud. i convinced him i was fine and promised him i'd have a bar of chocolate and drink lots of non-alcoholic beverages. he left, convinced.

at this point, the ambulance that one of the unfamiliar faces had beckoned arrived. to prove to them i was fine, i walked myself to them. insisting i was white as a sheet, they took my blood pressure, which was 70:60 (mmHg), whereas normally, normally it is supposed to be 120:80. they then proceeded to drive me to the hospital. john paul II was kind enough to accompany me. my protests were all in vain and i ended up on a drip for the following five hours. upon the drip's completion, it too started to draw my blood. i requested it to be returned considering the circumstance.

they obliged.


finishing school, a goodbye

      each day of the last seven years has woven into my mind some of the most intricate of memories. so it’s strange that it feels like it was only yesterday that my first memory of walking through the front gates of st. mary’s college was sewn. it’s strange that it seems like it was only yesterday that i was in my junior uniform whose short sleeves covered my elbows; whose tunic had to be hemmed up to my ankles.
      seven years have passed. i didn’t see myself grow and i didn’t notice the time pass, so swiftly by. my uniform though, from a gown became like a second skin, well worn after six years. in realising this a little too late, i wanted so desperately to maintain a strong grasp on my youth by continuing to wear my junior uniform, all in vain, as the fact was: my second skin’s buttons popped off and fabric tore each time i breathed in, doing nothing to flatter. this did coax me in the direction of wearing my senior uniform, which has in its due time begun to compress every ounce of flesh it has been sewn around. it’s a sure sign that it is indeed time to move on; further away from my youth once again.
      still, i do want to maintain the childhood that is fast slipping through my fingers like the fraying threads of my uniforms. but i know that if i continue to wear them, the threads will break more, leaving broken memories. i have hence realised, that the only way to preserve the intricacies that define each memory is to let go; to preserve them; to actually create a past to remember.
      amidst a slight sense of fear of leaving the comfort of this seven year routine behind us; this year has also been deeply exhilarating because every event was our last at st. mary’s, making each one so much more precious. this is the past that has been sewn so intangibly into our uniforms, which has been such a significant part of our lives for the last few years. this is the past that we may reminisce freely about, yet never, ever be part of again. 
      the memories, woven and sewn so intricately into our uniforms, can never change. to contrast, the knowledge we have gained from our whole lives is ever growing from a sown seed to a tree whose branches continue to stretch and spread like another woven complexity, as we grow.
      our whole lives, our growth has been a product of our respective pasts; of our respective relationships. older, taller trees, who’ve spread their branches to the heavens, drop the leaves of their minds to the ground, and the leaves decay. from this decay, the seeds just sown: we students draw nutrients: ideas, knowledge and wisdom which enable us to mature and continue the cycle. we’re really only just saplings in the process of growing. it is our parents, teachers, relatives, friends and acquaintances from whom we draw this nourishment. and from this we grow: stretching our branches; dropping our own leaves; nourishing a new generation with our own ideas and insight. so the cycle goes on…
      to the staff at st. mary’s: i would like to thank each and every one of you for dropping your leaves of knowledge and wisdom which have formed the strong foundation for the rest of my life. to the year 13 students: we’ve grown up together, and i feel privileged to have been entwined around a branch in each of your lives and i really do hope that we all will meet again in the not so distant future. i would like in particular to thank someone who has always stood beside me in my years at st. mary’s; she’s helped me without even meaning to; we’ve shared the most interesting conversations without even saying a word; she’s my closest friend… sara. above all, i would like to thank my parents: my father, for sowing my seed and my mother, for sewing my uniform


for the seven years of my secondary schooling career, i attended an all-girl catholic school called st mary's college. i certainly could not have asked for a better formative adolescence. i befriended and became acquainted with many people with whom i'll be friends or at least remember until i'm around one hundred and seventy six.

i found it difficult to express in words, my erratic, conflicted emotions about having to leave the routine of school behind me - i don't particularly like change. i do however think that when my schooling years were over, i was ready to leave - the change was inevitable.

see, erratic and conflicted

hot-cold, yes-no, in-out, up-down, bitter-sweet, copyright



now contrary to popular belief, i really haven't any problem with people who are fatter than they should be. i don't mind.

the other day i was riding my bicycle home. where i come from, there are no designated lanes for bicycles on roads, so we just have to make do with the space we have on the street, which makes for a difficult task at the 5pm post-work rush-hour. i somehow managed to do this until i got on broadway, whose pavement has a broader paved way than the norm - so i rode on there.

i was riding merrily along until i was behind a youngish couple. mid-thirties. slim man, fat lady. when i was close enough, i said "may i ride past you?"

"you should be riding on the road," said fat lady. now i could have rode past and ignored the comment. but i chose not to. because all i requested was for her to move out of my way for a second.

"it's peak hour traffic," i say "i don't particularly want to die, and it probably wouldn't kill you to get on one of these," referring to my bicycle - and then i rode off without waiting for a reaction. because i didn't particularly want to die


emceeing mc

so i was emceeing at a music concert in some church some years ago. it was a series of string, wind and voice performances which was quite a symphonic montage considering the youth of the performers. it was unfortunate that the mc was not quite there.

there was a solo performer, anna broom - who performed a beautiful vivaldi violin solo. oh yes, it was lovely. but i just thought her name was funny.

"wow anna broom, that performance really swept us away."

dead silence.

"is this microphone on?"

i died a little, inside



oooh dear!

so this lady - let's call her betty - was at the top of the escalators beside the most exquisite dinner display you've ever seen. it was beautiful. at the top of the escalators, betty lost control of her bladder. it happens sometimes to the best and the worst of us.

if that wasn't bad enough, she picked up an intricately folded white napkin and wiped beneath her skirt. then. then, she placed it, dripping and discoloured back on the display table. she glided down the escalator as though she'd done nothing questionable.

dear desmond was distraught


size 6

so at the shoppe, there's a brand for the more significant figure called nicola waite. i suppose the brand name itself compensates for my blatant euphemism. net effect = 0. never mind. 

the sizing of this brand works rather strangely. a size 1 corresponds to a size 16; size 2 corresponds to a size 18 and so on. a size 6 corresponds to a whopping size 26.

a lady came into the shoppe and requested some assistance in finding an outfit for a wedding she was attending. not part of the bridal party. just a guest. i was curious. i asked her what her size was.

"i'm a size 6......... in nicola waite."



bloody impressions

my first day at the shoppe was a memorable one to say the least. a woman - let's call her florence, flo for short - in her late forties perhaps, came in, in search of some trousers. wanting so sincerely to make a good impression, i found all the trousers i could in her size and hung them spectrally on a rail for her. i think she was either pleased or disappointed with me as i couldn't tell the difference between her smile and her grimace.

flo tried on the first pair. pale beige, almost cream. with her back turned to me, she bent down to fold the legs of the trousers upward to adjust the length for a potential hem job. as she did so, seeping on to the the trousers between her legs was some blood. i was witness to the occurence.

'do you need a tampon?' i asked
'no i don't think so...'
'i do.'
'do i need to buy the trousers?'
'well...' ('you did bleed on them,' i thought - but not aloud)

and i can't really remember what happened after that. so much for good impressions. short-story-long, how awkward


the shoppe

for the three-year duration of my degree, i worked in ladies' fashion of a department store. i can't believe i stayed that long... but i suppose it was comfortable. all we had to do was stand around and look pretty, like beautiful little fools - a difficult task for someone whose attention span is comparable to that of a goldfish - me. we acknowledged people who wished not to be spoken to, and attempted to sell expensive clothes to people searching, but who really didn't like anything they saw.

don't get me wrong - i did enjoy the company of my colleagues... but there's only so much 'nothing' i could do before i started to feel guilty about the fact that i was being paid to do nothing. i drifted from minute to minute purposelessly, until one day i gathered up enough courage to leave.

good riddance