Thursday, March 29, 2012


A lot of Christians like to believe that God helps those who help themselves, but that's not in the Bible, and definitely not even a biblical concept. The whole point of the Christian faith is that we were not able to help ourselves, which is why God had to make the first move. If we were able to help ourselves, we wouldn't need Him!

Anyway, today I was reading Charles Kingsley's collection (translation?) of Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales for My Children (a free ebook from Project Gutenberg). And look what I found on page 139, when Pallas Athené, also known as Athena, the goddess of war, says to Perseus -- you know, that guy who killed Medusa:

    "Perseus, you have played the man, and see, you have your reward. Know now that the Gods are just, and help him who helps himself."

Uh-huh. You read that right. The line is from a Greek MYTH.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


My phone's screen seems to have died once and for all yesterday evening. I say "seems to" because it has threatened to die before, but miraculously resurrected itself after the passing of minutes. But hours -- now, this is new. Looks like it's really dead. Is it really dead? *poke*

So now I am fiddling with the new phone and I had forgotten how much effort it takes to set up a new phone, to make sure all the settings are just exactly the way you want it. By which I mean, just exactly the way they were on the previous phone, of course. What did you think I meant?

And then I realise that, although somehow all the pictures on the memory card are still there, my ringtone isn't -- the MacGyver theme song that I've been using for the past three years. Three years?! My God, Sunflower! It's time for a change! Yes, yes, except I can't think of anything else. It needs to be something DRAMATIC! And DISTINCTIVE! And something that I can hear over and over again for three years without driving me crazy. Because, you know, I'm already crazy enough all by myself. I don't need help with that.

I can't even remember how I found the theme I was using on the previous phone. Which website did I use? Thank goodness for Google: I don't need the exact same website when there are 7,640,000 other options. I really pity the 7,640,000th one on that list because I bet nobody ever visits it, poor neglected thing. Really, what did it ever do to deserve to be ranked 7,640,000th on a Google search for "Nokia themes"? As for what to do when I've finally located a theme I can live with -- I have a vague recollection of having bought an el cheapo bluetooth dongle (probably cost like RM10 or something) and bluetoothed the theme & the MacGyver song over to the phone from my PC three years ago. But I wouldn't swear to it if you asked me. That kind of thing is not worth perjuring one's self for. I also wouldn't swear as to the location of that dongle now. Looks like another visit to Digital Mall is in order. (Mr TDH, are you listening? :p)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A relatively recent reality

In Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, she talks about a cultural change that began to take place at the beginning of the 20th century: the shift from a "Culture of Character" to a "Culture of Personality".

I'm fascinated by this because it shows that our society's obsession with image is a relatively recent thing. According to historian Warren Susman (whom Cain quotes in her book), image only began to achieve a status of great importance after the industrial revolution, when people moved away from their small towns and began converging in cities. Previously, they had lived among communities who had known them all their lives, but now they had to prove themselves to strangers, and that's when the ability to "sell yourself" became important.

    In the Culture of Character, the ideal self was serious, disciplined, and honourable. What counted was not so much the impression one made in public as how one behaved in private... But when they embraced the Culture of Personality, Americans started to focus on how others perceived them... "The social role demanded of all in the new Culture of Personality was that of a performer," Susman famously wrote. "Every American was to become a performing self." (p.21)

No wonder we talk about people wearing masks. The metaphor fits.

Susman's research revealed that self-help books of the 19th century emphasised virtues like duty, morals, manners, integrity, and good works, while by the early 20th century, authors were advising people how to be magnetic, fascinating, stunning, attractive, forceful, and energetic. 1920, popular self-help guides had changed their focus from inner virtue to outer charm -- "to know what to say and how to say it," as one manual put it. "To create a personality is power," advised another. (p.22)

At the same time, Cain says, advertisements moved from "straightforward product announcements" to the kind of ads we see today -- the kind that prey on people's insecurities and promise to give you a better life, make you more successful, bring you more friends, get you the man or woman of your dreams, if you will only use that product.

As someone who chafes against society's ridiculous preoccupation with image, I'm comforted by the thought that we haven't always been like this; but we've gone so far in the other direction now that I don't know if we will ever go back. We are so wired to respond to those who fit The Image that studies have shown a person who speaks out often, speaks well and speaks confidently is usually considered more intelligent, more likeable and even better-looking than someone who is quieter or speaks more slowly! Cain talks about how people tend to look up to, trust and follow leaders who have more charisma, who are able to project the image we want to see. The problem is that these people might not be good leaders. They are simply able to make you BELIEVE that they are. (This is also why democracy isn't working all that well, by the way. Because people are inept at evaluating who would be the best candidate for office.)

I am going to go one step further and say that this might be one of the reasons why the divorce rate is rising in many countries. The preoccupation with image causes both genders to portray an image of themselves which may not be all they truly are. We "sell ourselves" to potential employers, and when it comes to relationships we also think we have to "sell ourselves" to a potential partner.

At work you usually don't apply for jobs you aren't capable of or don't have some aptitude for, so if the employer does decide to hire you, you're able to perform more or less as promised. On the other hand, when both partners "sell themselves" to each other, they each fall for an image which doesn't truly reflect the person inside. Some of it might be truth, some might be exaggeration, some might be omission, and some might be wishful thinking. Marriage is all about intimacy, but how can you become intimate with an illusion? Especially when your own mask prevents true connection with the person you really are?

Monday, March 26, 2012


So yesterday I was in a shopping mall and stopped by a phone store to ask about the issues I've been having with my phone's display screen. "We can repair it in one or two hours for you," the guy said confidently. "That'll be RM100."


He said it is a common problem all slider phones encounter sooner or later -- WHY DIDN'T ANYBODY TELL ME THIS -- something about contact problems, the ribbon getting dislodged over time as you keep sliding the screen section up and down. I told him I've had this phone since May 2009 and he said I was very lucky the screen had lasted that long! Some people, he claimed, run into this problem after a year.

I got distracted by the shiny all around me and started looking at the new phones. I've used Nokia forever because it was the most user-friendly phone way back when, and once I'm comfortable with something I don't switch, unless I've powerful reason to. The iPhone is a pretty powerful reason, but its price is also a pretty powerful deterrent!

Trying out the Nokia 300's touchscreen, I commented it wasn't as sensitive as the iPhone's. "Of course not -- you can't compare an RM400 phone with something that costs five times that!" exclaimed the guy. Point taken.

But what really decided me was when I discovered that you can't set any shortcut to go directly into composing text messages. I text a lot and this is one of the features I use the most on my current phone: Once the keypad is unlocked, all it takes is one press of the left centre button and I'm immediately in compose mode. On the touchscreen phone you need to go to Messages, then Compose, and with the fiddliness of the screen sensitivity, it's just not as convenient. So I got the non-touchscreen Nokia C2-01. Sticking with a dumb phone for now :p

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Having my cake but not eating it... yet

One reason why you should never go shopping when you're feeling down: you might end up with fourteen-dollar cake.

Not that I've eaten it, mind you. It's sitting in my fridge. But not for long!

I've been well and truly affected by the "city mentality", as I like to call it. My mother would be horrified at the thought of paying seven dollars for a single slice of cake, the same way she's horrified at the thought of paying ten dollars for cup of coffee. When I first came here as a student, I thought the same thing. Who needs Starbucks?

Of course a non-coffee drinker would find it easy to turn up her nose at the mad coffee worshippers who fall down at the feet of the corporate giant with the green-and-white logo. But my sweet tooth sits up and takes notice at the mere mention of the four-letter word starting with C. CAKE? Where??!? Gimme!

Expensive is relative. The first time you hear of it, yes, you shudder at the expense. The second time, you go, "Hmmm." The third time, you agree to give it a try "just to see". After you taste it, you think, "Perhaps it's worth it." The next time, you think, "Oh well, once in a while, it's a treat." And there begins the slippery slope downwards...

When we come down to it, RM7 isn't that expensive in the scheme of things -- or so we tell ourselves. It's about the price of a hawker meal + soft drink. It's less than a movie ticket. It's... "almost nothing".

I've never forgot what a financially-savvy friend told me once: these kinds of expenses are called the "latte factor". They're the seemingly small but recurring expenses that leech you of money unnecessarily. If you buy one Starbucks latte a day, she said, just imagine if you had saved that money -- at the end of the month you'd have RM220 (assuming you only buy it on weekdays, because that's when you most need the morning pick-me-up). By the end of the year you'd have RM11,440. In five years you'd have saved RM57,200. Do the figures make you feel a little ill? Because they do me.

Ever since that illuminating conversation, I've been slightly more mindful about my purchases. But somehow I can't cut out the little treats... right now there's a bottle of Lay's barbecue-flavoured potato chips sitting in front of me, at the table. It had served as munchies while typing my thesis the other day. There's still about half a bottle left, I believe.

Anyway, back to the cake... pecan butterscotch and Oreo cheese. I believe either would qualify for the perfect Saturday morning breakfast. Mmm-hmmmm. *slurp*

Monday, March 19, 2012

Consider this an ode to ankles

I twisted my ankle last week, slipping on the stairs. Missed the last step and... well, you know the rest. Being a doctor's kid, I decided it probably wasn't fractured because it didn't hurt that much, and since I was on my way out of the house, I continued on to the seminar I was attending.

Fast-forward two days later and I hobbled to work leaning on a walking stick and looking for all the world like a grandma, thinking, I can do this. But even though I tried not to stand or walk around too much, the ankle was getting more painful. My colleague scolded me for not getting it looked at by a doctor: "What if it's fractured?" That, coupled with the pain, drove me to the hospital next door.

The good news was it wasn't fractured; the other good news was that I got a week off work, with orders to stay off my feet!

The rest has done wonders, and taught me more about faith. You don't realise how much faith you put in all your body parts until they fail you. Now every time I take a step, I am wondering, Is this okay? Will the ankle hold up? Am I over-straining it? I really have never considered before whether my ankle would or would not take my weight. It simply did.

We talk about taking things for granted like that is a bad thing. When I was growing up, I heard a lot of sermons cautioning us against taking God for granted, and we're also often warned not to take our parents for granted. The funny thing is that when we are growing up, aren't we encouraged to take things for granted? You want your child to feel secure. You don't keep telling him how lucky he is that you decided to keep him, and that he has food to eat and a roof over his head, and clothes to wear. You don't tell him that he should be grateful he is loved. So when we're young it's okay to take things for granted, but when we're older we shouldn't? Hmmm.

I'm all for an attitude of thanksgiving, but I think taking things for granted is not necessarily bad. All these years I have taken my ankles for granted because they have been working the way they're supposed to. When you can't take something for granted, like now, it's a bad sign! Why are we made to feel guilty when we take things for granted?

So yes, I am very happy that I've had ankles which work well (not to mention other body parts), and I am amazed that I've never before given a thought to the importance of ankles, and I'm sorry for people who don't have ankles that work well, but I don't think it's terrible that I've never before thought to write an ode to ankles.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dumb phone or smart phone?

My cellphone is dying -- or at least the display is. I'm trying to decide if I should stick with a non-smartphone Nokia or go over to the Dark Side. Here's the dilemma:
  1. I'm pretty sure I don't need to have 24/7 access to the Internet. I don't want to spend extra on a monthly data plan. But having a smartphone without a data plan sounds a bit dumb too, like putting yourself under a handicap. In Mr TDH's words: "It's like buying a car without wheels!"

  2. If I were going to get a smartphone, I'd get the iPhone because I believe it's the best on the market right now. But it's HELLA EXPENSIVE. And I'm sure I don't really need all those features...

  3. ...which are nevertheless cool to have, and useful even -- some of them, at least. I like how you can easily back up data on the iPhone by syncing with iTunes, and how it organises SMSes so you can quickly find a past SMS you've received or sent, and I really like the quality of the iPhone camera, dammit.

I guess if I were to win the lottery tomorrow I wouldn't think twice -- I'd just get the iPhone. Of course, to win the lottery you actually have to BUY tickets...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let's not add to the damage, eh

I think I know why the Ph.D is popularly known as "permanent head damage". Because if you spend THAT much time doing research and writing your thesis, you are bound to end up with head damage! Research and writing are generally solitary pursuits. You're going to end up living in your head! And as we all know, that ain't exactly healthy...

I love what Sir Ken Robinson says about education: that the more we have of it, the more it seems to focus mainly on what we have in our heads, and if you do things right, if you rise up to the pinnacle, you end up becoming an academic -- a university professor.

"There's something curious about professors -- in my experience, not all of them, but typically -- they live in their heads. They live up there, and slightly to one side. They're disembodied, you know, in a kind of literal way. They look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads. It's a way of getting their head to meetings." I love his humour.

So, yes. Working on my Master's thesis I already feel like I am getting head damage. I don't exactly want to make it permanent!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Education and passion

I was listening to a TED talk two nights ago when I heard a very interesting story about a lady called Gillian Lynne (the story starts at 15:15 in the video). The story goes that there was once an eight-year-old girl who was, in the storyteller's words, "hopeless" at school; teachers complained she had difficulty concentrating and couldn't sit still. They suspected that she had a learning disorder. So her parents took her to see a specialist, who, after listening to Gillian and her mother, told Gillian that he had to speak to her mother privately. The two adults withdrew from the room, but before doing so, the doctor turned the radio on.

They stood outside the room and watched as Gillian began dancing to the music. The doctor turned to the mother and said, "Mrs Lynne, Gillian isn't sick -- she's a dancer. Take her to a dance school."

And her mother did.

"We walked in this room, and it was full of people like me: people who couldn't sit still, people who had to move to think," Gillian recalled.

In the end she became a soloist with the Royal Ballet Company, eventually founding her own dance company and going on to choreograph and direct shows on film, television and stage -- including Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats and Phantom of the Opera. (Here's her list of achievements, if you're interested.)

What fascinates me about this story is that it could so easily have gone the other way. If her parents and teachers and the doctor had tried to push her into the conventional "student" mould, none of this might have happened. As the storyteller (Sir Ken Robinson) noted, "Someone else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down."

Sometimes I wonder how many of our students we are doing a disservice to by expecting them to fit into our "assembly line" system of education. How many of them would be outstanding or do great and wonderful things if they weren't trying so hard to fit into the accepted mould.

And sometimes I wonder how different I might be if my parents had been able to see outside that conventional academic mould and encouraged my interest or aptitude in writing. "We didn't stop you from doing it," my dad said recently, when I mentioned that I would have appreciated more support. Well, yes, but you never seemed particularly interested in it either!

Anyway, that's pointless speculation. I was watching another TED talk last night and decided to google the speaker, psychologist Dr Dan Gilbert, to find out more about him. (By the way, you should absolutely listen to the talk -- it might change the way you make certain decisions!). I was fascinated to learn that Dr Gilbert had been a high school dropout -- I wish I knew why, I'm so curious.

The story goes that he wanted to write science fiction, so he decided to take a writing course at the local community college. But when he arrived at the college, the writing course was full and the only course still available was psychology. In his own words: "I thought, That's got something to do with crazy people; maybe I'll write a story about a crazy person some day. I told them to sign me up." Long story short, he got hooked on psychology and is now a professor at Harvard, winning awards for his research, and has written a book. Not science fiction, though!

To me, the most wonderful thing about both Gillian Lynne and Dan Gilbert is that they both got to pursue their passion. The scary thing is that the conventional route was just rubbish at getting them there, and they could so easily have missed it. Yes, Dr Gilbert ended up in academia, which is not exactly unconventional, but he's only there because he wants to be there. It was a choice he made. None of those "ten-year plans" kinda stuff, where you plot to climb up the career ladder simply because it's there and that's what others expect of you.

Among my circle of friends I am one of the most unusual ones, having studied law, worked in journalism, then admin, then moved into teaching. I was determined to find my passion, and refused to settle for "a job". But I suspect that many people settle, not least because it's scary to go out into the unknown and deal with the uncertainty of being able to earn a living doing something new, but also because many of them simply do not know where their passion lies. I mean if you take Dr Gilbert for example, he certainly didn't have any inkling that he was going to discover the spark that would drive him for the rest of his life when he signed up for that psychology course!

I'm saddened by the fact that our schools and our education systems do not do much to celebrate the individual or help children develop as individuals. We don't help them to discover and nurture the unique talents that might help them become successful in the future. One reason for this is that our definition of "success" is so narrow. As Sir Robinson says, "Our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there's a reason: the whole system... came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas: Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top... the second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence because... the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they're not beause the thing they were good at at school wasn't valued or was actually stigmatised."

We tend to view white-collar professionals as more "successful"; this is mostly based on the size of their paycheques and the material things that they own. But I've often wondered: if that is the ultimate most desirable goal for everyone, who will help me fix my car when it breaks down? You never hear anyone say, "I want to be a mechanic"; people say, "I want to be an engineer." And if a kid were to say to his teacher that he wanted to be a mechanic, she might very well tell him he was aiming too low, or that he could do better for himself. But if no one wanted to take on blue-collar jobs, I think the world as we know it would collapse. Whereas if there weren't any white-collar workers, I daresay the world would still trundle on happily without too much interruption.

Monday, March 12, 2012


My cousin paid me a huge compliment last night - she commented that something I'd written reminded her of Neil Gaiman's work :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I read the funnies every day.

When I was a kid, my dad had the daily newspaper delivered to his office, and he would bring it back with him (the newspaper, not the office!) when he came home from work. I would pounce on it and immediately flip to the back of the features pullout. The comics were always on the second and third pages from the back; I'd read every single strip, even the ones that were boring and not very funny. In fact, I'd start with those first, and move up to the ones I loved the most. There are only two situations where I like to save the best for last: when I read comics, and when I eat.

Sunday comics were an especial treat, not just because the Sunday strips were longer and came in full colour, but also because dad would buy two different newspapers on Sunday, which meant -- yay -- extra comics! We used to pull out the comics and pass them around. Dad read them too. I don't think Mom did.

These days the comic strips in The Sunday Star and The Sunday Times are pretty dismal. There are fewer strips, for one thing. Even The Star's daily strips are disappointing... but thank God there's the INTERNET!

I'm really sad that Bill Waterson isn't doing Calvin & Hobbes any more. Regardless, it's still one of my everyday MUST READS, including these:
I used to read Dilbert every day too, but even though it's witty, satirical and sarcastic, after awhile the cynicism got to me. It's... kind of depressing, really. Comics, like everything else that I read for entertainment and/or relaxation, have got to be feel-good -- that's why I don't like Garfield either. It's not even funny! -_-"

The great thing about comics is, they remind me not to take life (and myself!) too seriously. And you know, if you're too grown-up and serious and sensible to read comics, then... um... well. I think it's a SIGN.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Goals for the year

I know it's already March, but better late than never...

  1. Finish the #%&@£¥! thesis (otherwise #3 to #6 below can't happen!)

  2. Complete all Elijah House modules (a prayer counselling course for Christians)

  3. Unpack everything & get the house organised (note to self: GIVE AWAY MORE BOOKS)

  4. Spruce up the design of my official, professional website (obviously not this one) & get it launched

  5. Go away alone for two or three days' holiday (preferably somewhere with a beach)

  6. Publish something for Kindle, on Smashwords, or both (I'm thinking a collection of short stories)

I think that's more than enough to go on with, don't you? It's all doable, though. #1 is on track, which makes me very happy, and I've started on #2. The rest will have to be accomplished in the third & fourth quarter of the year, but that's okay :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I'll get help elsewhere, thank you

A friend is paring down her book collection, so I went over to her place to grab some of the good stuff. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it!) our tastes differ widely -- I like romance for light reading, whereas she recoils in horror at the very thought; she has a fondness for self-help books, whilst I turn up my nose at them in disdain.

I always avoid the "self-improvement" section in bookstores. I think part of it stems from the fact that I feel reading is not the way to go if you really want to solve a problem or rectify a situation. Reading is so... cerebral. It's all about theory. And from experience, I know that having all that theory, that knowledge, can be a sort of security blanket. You try to find out as much as possible about a situation in order to feel that you have some sort of handle on it, but in reality, you're not doing anything about it. Understanding is good, up to a point, but too much of that and it becomes hiding instead.

There's another thing about self-help books: they get my back up. You know that feeling when you're at a social gathering and someone says, "I know just the thing that will help you"? The inner recoil you have when someone walks up to you and gives you totally unsocilited advice, when they don't know the first thing about what you're going through? Well, I sort of feel that way with self-improvement books. Who do you think you are, and what makes you think you are qualified to tell me what to do? I know, it's a bit silly, but I have never liked benevolent "I just wanted to help" types. I suppose I could still read and discard whatever I didn't like or didn't agree with, which brings me to my next point...

I'm terribly skeptical about most self-help books. They're often either filled with generalisations, or advice that worked for the author in the author's particular circumstances. I'm skeptical because the author is trying to say, "My way is the best way" and I don't necessarily believe that there is always one best way for everyone -- I don't believe that his best way will be my best way. The more popular the book, the more skeptical I become. Some people would say that the book's popularity proves there must be something to it, or the masses would not be rushing to buy it. But I've seen fads come and go, watched the mob mentality at work, and found that people jump on the bandwagon all too easily. All it takes, for example, is a celebrity endorsement, and consumers will be out in droves to get the book. No, just because a book is popular, that doesn't mean it's good.

The funny thing is that I'm starting to realise a lot of Christian books are really self-help books. They covertly masquerade under the cover of religiosity or spirituality, but they are always telling you how you should live out your faith, how to know God better or pray more effectively or live a more holy life or whatever. This might explain why I haven't bought a Christian book in years and haven't read one in at least as long. Not that I don't need any help, but the kind of help I need, I don't think books can give me: I have the Bible, I know the right things to do -- it's the doing that's hard!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Inspiration: Story starters

The website Creative Writing Now ran a contest in August last year, asking for "irresistible story openers". The contest ran on Twitter with the hashtag #storyhooks. Some of the entries are so intriguing that I want to write the story to find out what happened! Maybe it'll be the same for you:

From @maryannestahl:
  • It looked dead, but I began to back away just in case. [This was the winning entry!]

  • Light rushed across the floor of the barn as I opened the doors, ready at last to face the truth.

  • Clive had made a lot of promises in his short life, but the one he made the most was the one he could never keep.

From @drzolla:
  • She bit with astounding force. Lost, she barely heard her master. Stop! Not him you fool! Her eyes opened in terror.

  • She gripped the small gun hidden in her wedding dress.The truth could not come out before she was legally married.

From @UWishUWereMe666:
  • My first time. That I remember? There isn't one. My real first time? Around eight, when mom started going out.

  • The food makes me tell Her everything. She sits and watches me, asks questions, I can't speak. I wish for death.

  • Love. All I wanted. A kind word or compassion. But now I've made up my mind. They'll see what it's like to be cold.

  • The red runs down the drain.I wonder how long it will last, to go back to normal. Why did I die my hair scarlet?

  • The screams filled my ears. The beauty was magical. The sight entrancing. How I love the smell of blood in the morn.

  • She cupped a fragile bud. One twist and it would be torn from all life. Just like humans, Death seldom makes sense

  • He smells, paint thinner, human filth. "Your money!" Look him in the eyes, bring my hand, tap the nozzle. "Do it."

  • "Perhaps I should have run," I say with a feral smile. "But he was so delicious, John. And he suffered beautifully."

  • She smiles at me. "I have no intention to punish you or break you." My hands spasm. "I plan to remake you entirely."

From @staceyface80:
  • Incredibly, it was a gypsy standing on the side of the road that finally broke up their marriage.

  • The strangest thing she had ever found while cleaning hotel rooms had been a baby. It was a story she loved to tell.

  • She had read that the creation of a thousand origami cranes granted the creator one wish. It was time for her to wish

  • Joni knew the circus had come back to town when she arrived home and all of her sister's creamic birds were shattered

  • That summer she found her mom smoking weed, and the Miracle Worker came to town to lay his hands on the lucky few

From @catpriestess:
  • This is it-the the end of it all, she thought.Of course, it wasn’t entirely true-The Nameless would always be around.

  • She knew he was dead. She wanted so much to just let go and go with him. But she knew she couldn’t, not just yet.

  • The psychic shockwave of intense pain hit her like a freight train. She knew SOMETHING was wrong, but not the cause.

  • Heretic. Murderer. Every day, Izra heard them whispering it as she passed.

  • It was the last thing she ever said to me. And it will haunt me 'til the day I die.

  • Everyone had worried about nuclear war-but it was conventional weapons that did us in.

From @MarliciaF:
  • Treat everyone with respect, or one day you may wake to find you are what you despised. I know; it happened to me.

  • Pale morning light burned her soul like a laser but left her body whole, her memory clear; that was the final irony.

  • The box on the table was an ordinary box, wrapped in common brown paper and addressed to me; it filled me with fear.

  • The pocket watch tick-tocked in time with the church steeple clock; unfortunately neither one told the correct time.

  • Lightning zig-zagged across the sky, wind filled the sails and lifted the boat to the sea beyond the ominous clouds.

  • Adele turned the brittle pages; in time all knowledge would amount to nothing; soon, only the present would matter.

  • It’s a dream game variation; you go in first and set the scene; I’ll follow and sow the ideas that will set us free.

  • You think you know someone; that you understand them, then they go and do something unexpected, and ruin everything.

  • Ansel shut his eyes and plugged his ears; all the colors, shapes and NOISE, disappeared; now maybe he could think.

  • Acrobatic white flakes tumbled in the air and coated the ground like snow; except it wasn’t cold and it didn’t melt.

  • Heavy security protected the glittering jewel, alarms, guards, dogs, cameras…not a problem; I had it all figured out.

  • The car bucked and coughed along the remote desert road, spewing steam from the engine before shuddering to a stop.

  • She stood at the window snapping green beans and wondered what it would be like to snap his head from his shoulders.

  • Some people might see the cup as half-empty, others might see it as half-full; I see it as a means to an end.

  • Learning to dance is simple; just hold your partner, but not too tight, listen to the music, and follow his steps.

  • “It’s not difficult to set an effective trap; all you need is the right bait.” Abby grinned. “We have that.”

  • The stairs wound around a central post, just like in her dream; and the winking lights danced upon them, beckoning.

  • If Scot hadn’t opened the letter, made the call or followed those directions he wouldn’t be here; wherever here was.

  • In Maggie’s eyes, Mark could do no wrong. He pulled the switch and hoped she’d understand.

  • Don’t make things so complicated; simple is better and truth is stranger than fiction.

  • Alex measured the passage of time by the water dripping from the ceiling; it wouldn’t be long now.

  • He sauntered through the doorway, a self-satisfied grin on his face. “Remember our little problem? It’s been solved.”

  • “You’re not one of us, are you?”

  • The green man tipped his hat to the lady in white; or did he tip the lady in white to his hat? I’m all befuddled.

  • Like it or not, the day was hot, the snow cold and ominous clouds billowed in the sky; perfect—just perfect.

  • Everything about the offer screamed ‘too good to be true”, but Ian couldn’t resist.

  • Jess knew how to fly without wings, how to crash and burn, and how to rise from the ashes…like the phoenix.

  • It was the day of reckoning, of resurrection, and of death.

  • Life came easy for Erik. If he wanted something he usually got it. For nothing. This time he didn’t. Or did he?

  • It all began with a cracked ceramic cup.

  • His veil of lies distorted everything, like smoke on the water; like a funhouse mirror; or a game of telephone.

  • It all started when I noticed his ears. [This one made me laugh!]

From @DDms428:
  • How does a person go on living after the death of her first born and a husband who is having an affair?

  • Inside each being dwells an iniquitous entity, hungering to emerge, and woefully mine has.

  • Officer and Mrs. Guy Towers had the ideal life until they adopted twin toddlers, daughters of the evil psychopath, J.

  • Rebecca looked tired and desperate as she leaned over the small yet pregnant frame of the young girl.

  • Believe me when I tell you, he was no normal preacher…

  • This is a long journey that I’m dying to share.

  • Last night I went to bed dreaming of my sweet Edward and this morning I woke up to find his lifeless body lying by my side.

  • Upon entering and with only the moon glowing, the park looked deserted and empty, but boy was I wrong.<./li>
  • I know I sound a little bitter, but wouldn’t you if your mother slept with your boyfriend?

  • Struggling to keep the waves from sucking me under I could see him on the boat’s deck, smirking at me.

From @retirementstory:
  • I've waited forty two years to tell you this story.

From @GreatAbakening:
  • We laid under the stars until I saw that scar of hers in the moonlight. She was only nine. My daughter's seen enough.

  • He was looking in his grandfather's attic and found a wicker mask, caked in dust and strewn with spider's webbing.

  • Amidst petty conversation, she turned to me and asked what time it was. That's when I found that I'd lost my phone.

  • Victor Lansing was a specialist at bringing antiques to life with patient restoration and a haunting secret.

  • Having left them all behind me, it was harder for me to accept the accident on my own.

From @KyleeAnnHintz:
  • Dark sounds filling the empty space in my head, agony struck through my temples like an electric lightning bolt.

  • The fear of them finding out, she couldn't take it. Angelina packed her bags and found herself soon staring at Death.

  • The call comes in. People fighting. Officers form a barrier to prevent suspects from escaping the bar on 4th Street.

From @RuthEkblom:
  • Don cowered under the hedge, trembling, ribs heaving as he fought to control his breathing as silently as possible.

From @franciscangypsy:
  • The hunger gnawed at him. Everyone could see that. But what lay behind the hunger no one knew... or really wanted to.

  • "Don't be dramatic." "Calm down." How can I when every time I look at you, I see exactly how you're going to die?

  • It seems apropos for some reason. That if a wild fire were to occur, it would be somewhere like Dismal Swamp.

  • They say Hell burns. I say it's endless winter. It steals your soul, your energy. Numbs you until nothing is left.

  • It was almost small enough that she could imagine that she didn't see it. Or that she imagined it.

  • His hands shook. Constantly. He blamed the Parkinsons or his nerves. Only his victims knew the truth. Now I do too.

  • It's a big question: What if. What if it rained? What if she never came? What if Bill's heart was where it belonged

From @MarilynPullen:
  • Lucy really hated being dead

From @Lizzetu:
  • I turned the key in the lock and opened the door with a pounding heart.

From @Ipodguy88:
  • On his way to bury the bodies, Herbert suddenly remembered he forgot to pick up his mother's birthday cake.

From @ReemaViqar:
  • Moonlight gilds the waves to liquid silver;eerie &desolate is the shore with only stepping stones for wandering souls

From @MCMJ:
  • Every day when she awoke, Lucy peeked into the living room to make sure her father's corpse was still there.

From @MorningAmbassdr:
  • "Go to your window right now, and look carefully at the street below; I'm sure you'll see what I'm talking about."

  • Mentally projected slides of my life hovered ghostly in the air, beckoning entry as I sat in the jukebox diner booth.

  • Elena remembered the turquoise of the lake that afternoon; shaking the start of it all was not an option.

  • Albert, busy gloating over his current strokes of good fortune, did not notice the other entering the hall.

  • Their jeep shrunk until it was as miniscule as they were, so it took them a hot day's trek back to its parking space.
  • "What you tell me now reminds me of a story told by my folk for ages, in which the hero also bears your name, Sam."

  • The remaining particles plummeted while dust drifted down and the wheels of her mind spun, flashing with protocol.

From ‏@lovethejester:
  • Cold and disoriented, she stood up out of the snow, still reeling from the spiral plunge she had taken from the sky.

From ‏@MattjOsborne:
  • I have accidentally deduced, after years of accidentally deducing, that I am quite strange, indeed.

From ‏@mamafeenix:
  • Did I ever tell you about the time my Uncle Troy tried to kill the monkey?

From @dorme99:
  • Anna made up her mind. No matter what happened tomorrow, she knew her answer would be “No.”

From @Lisacwilliams01:
  • The sounds of jazz music & people shouting for beads form a surreal soundtrack as I fight to regain consciousness.

From @animefan61:
  • It had been four days since he had any sleep, but it was necessary to keep moving.

That's it :)  The site doesn't have any other writing contests running at the moment, but you might want to keep an eye on this page just in case.