Iliana tagged me for the 8 Random Facts/Habits About You meme. Let's see if there's any interesting facts about me that I can share:
1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
I hear it more often than my actual name these days.
It started when a friend named me after one of the Teletubbies, Laa-Laa. (Laa-Laa is the yellow one with the curly antenna on her head. She plays with the orange ball). I would have preferred either Dipsy or Po ― but nicknames, once conferred, cannot be withdrawn. So, I became Laa-Laa, which was later abbreviated to La.
2. Three Books That Made Me Cry
Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. I think it was the FIRST book to make me cry.
Charlotte Bronte's Villette. Lucy Snow tried to disappear into the background, to be unnoticed, but her passion spoke with a resounding silence. A part of me is Lucy Snow.
Graham Greene's The End of the Affair. I was having insomnia one night and I just picked up the book randomly. I stayed up all night reading it, and I couldn't stop, couldn't keep the tears out of my eyes.
3. I Used To Play Chess
I learnt to play chess by watching. Then one day, I just walked into the room where the Chess Club was meeting. I played two games: lost one, won one. The teacher in charge of the Chess Club was impressed enough to want to train me. I entered my first national chess tournament that same year, and I came home with a silver medal. I was ten years old then. In college I was Vice President of the Chess Club.
I finally quit playing because I felt like a fraud being around all these chess-players who felt so passionately about the game. Most of all, I felt bad that the other members of the chess club really liked me. They told me how much more fun it was to have me around during practice. They told me I made them laugh with my ceaseless chatter and wildness. The irony is: while I liked it for a while, I could never bring myself to love chess. I just happened to be good at it, which was unfair to everyone who love the game more than I did.
It has been too many years since I've sat down to a game of chess.
4. I Almost Failed English When I Was 11 Years Old
I was 12 points from failing an English test. Back then, my grammar was terrible, and I couldn't write properly. (I still make a lot of grammatical errors when I write too fast, although if I try hard enough, I can usually catch my mistakes when I edit.)
My mother was worried then. She asked if I needed tuition. I said "No." Instead I self-studied: I read furiously, I paid more attention to grammar ― and each time I saw a word I didn't know know, I would look it up in the dictionary, copy the definition and a sentence illustrating its meaning on a piece of paper, and tape that piece of paper on my bedroom wall. I would look through the long strips of papers everyday to memorise the new words ― to expand my vocabulary.
Yes, I was an intense child.
5. I Had Wanted To Be A Writer
I pursued a double major in English Literature and Psychology in the university, because I wanted to be a writer. I soon realised I do not have the talent; I abandoned the dream. I was content just to be an eternal reader of literature.
Yet in my university days I wrote fanfictions ― because I loved what it felt like to write, to tell stories with characters I loved ― most of all it didn't matter that I could not write breathless prose. I did a few fanfictions on the X-Men, Babylon 5, and most of all on a computer game known as Gabriel Knight.
But in 1999, I started writing a story of my own. It was a story about vampire rock-gods. I stopped working on the story when I found a job in 2000. Things were going badly in my life and I just gave up on it.
In 2005, I returned to the vampire story. The files where I saved the story were long gone, so it was had to be written from scratch. As I rewrote the story, I realised the story and characters had evolved, as I was no longer the same person I was five years ago.
I am writing more these days. Just for myself.
6. No One Knows I Am Scared A Lot Of The Time
My company recently sent fifteen employees (myself included) for a supervisory management course. During the class, we had to do some character assessments, and I was surprised that most of my colleagues thought of me as confident, outspoken, cool and courageous.
As part of the course syllabus on public speaking, we had to give a 10~15 minutes presentation in front of the class. The presentation will be recorded on video and played back for evaluation. I am dead terrified of public speaking and utterly ill-prepared that day.
Later we had to vote for the best speaker, and I came in second. My colleagues told me I was "so confident" ― that I "really made them think."
I am not confident. No one seems to realise just how afraid I am a lot of the time.
7. I Am Vegetarian
I've never been forthcoming with the reason I chose to be vegetarian. I guess I thought people are not going to understand, or perhaps I was unprepared to answer questions.
When I first practiced yoga and the dharma, my life began to change for the better. I regret the violence in my life, and I was starting to rediscover gratitude in my life. Soon I began to consider vegetarianism as a practice of non-violence. But back then I was a big meat-eater and I LOVE beef. I wasn't ready to be a veggie. Just seems too much to give up.
But three years ago, things changed. I woke up one morning on my birthday and sat in meditation.
I asked myself, silently, if I was ready to be vegetarian.
The answer was a clear "yes". Two months later I stopped eating meat.
I knew that my life was no longer what it used to be, and I was grateful. I had inflicted much suffering in my time, and have suffered the consequences of my actions. But through grace, things began to heal; an offering has to be made in return.
So that day on my birthday, I offered up my meat-eating ― a choice of non-violence in return for a violent past. But I wanted it to be a mindful decision. I promised myself to watch my diet and my health carefully ― because to damage my body through a thoughtless diet is also a violation of the principle of non-violence.
8. I Used to Eat A Lot of Things People Wouldn't Eat
Sometimes, when they find out I am a Veggie, people actually gloat and declare they eat "anything" - as though they are somehow braver than me. A lot of people assume I'm afraid of meat and I don't enjoy food. They have no idea.
A few years ago, before my current "salad days", I wanted to go to Bangkok to eat the deep-fried crickets. But that year SARS hit the region, and so I never got to eat my crickets.
Truth is, if I wasn't vegetarian, I'll probably try any food at least once. Among the "exotic" food I've tried: fried scorpion (I left out the sting however. Decided not to tempt fate too much), fried bamboo worms (they put too much MSG in worms then) and I've drank snake wine.
But my favourite exotic food experience was when I was 17, during the Backwoodsman camp. We killed a snake, and divided the flesh out to each team. It was an interesting experience cutting snake meat with your jack-knife, and then preparing skewered snake-meat kebabs over the campfire.
And how does snake-meat kebabs taste like?
Like chicken. Really.
If you are reading this and you feel like doing this meme, you're tagged.