29 April 2012
Lyrics to 'Promise'

There’s an aeroplane
Flying high above the breeze
It’s a cloudless sky
Where there used to be trees

And if you pass that way
Take a picture when you leave
Make you laugh someday
As you fold your memories

And if she makes you stay
To keep her warm and watch TV
When you pass this way again
Promise you’ll remember me

And we will never stop
Making our way to the sea
We will always crave
A little yearning to be free

And if you find that day
One you thought you could be
I hope you’ll notice that
I would never let you see

And if you should ever lack
For some better company
Think of climate changes
And how true the scenery

And if you think it sad
Don’t believe in what you see
Just hold her hand and say
I’m so glad that you love me

31 March 2012
It's shaping up. I've been recording muchly. In my little audio spaceship in the hot home studio bubble in the apartment that I share in this city I live in, with millions of people, and I'm been muchly thinking of them and myself and what we muchly go through living our lives. The album that I started three years ago, writing, thinking, living forward and often working backwards to get to. This is not the final mix but this is the first song I recorded for the album last year, sometime in July. I was listening to a loop that I made from an echoey kick and my bervy guitars sang the words over it. It's called Promise.

Have a listen.


22 September 2011
Demo Diary: "The King Of Rats"
City Of Mud (under construction) by jeromekugan
After spending the past three years working, living, wrestling with demons and hanging out with angels, I found a bit of time to write songs for a second album. In the past 3 years, I sketched out over 50 songs, all the time thinking about my musical direction. 
Working on the first album with Hardesh Singh and Ariff Abu Bakar was an amazing experience and taught me a lot about arranging, recording, and producing. But I've also been interested for a long time handling production duties on my own songs. But I've never been truly confident about my technical abilities. I'm a very clumsy and simple musician. Lol. 
I worked up enough courage to start recording in June. And I've inadvertently managed to slip into the next phase of making the second album: doing the demos. The demos force me to work on arranging the songs, a process which I've come to dread because it can suck you into a vortex of omg.    
This song, "The King Of Rats" is one of the new recordings. I did it at home on my simple recorder. It's basically me and guitar with some free drum samples. It's still unfinished, unmixed and very raw warts and all and it's basically a one-take thing. So there's a lot of stuff still missing. Which is probably why I put reverb and delay over everything. Ha ha ha. But I just wanted to share my excitement with the process. 
The song is about a dream I once had about meeting the king of rats in KL. He was very dashing, but lived in abject squalor -- a bit like how many of us live in this city. 
It's part of a work-in-progress that will eventually become my second album, which will be about KL. 
I'll be putting up little demos and mixes as I figure out how to shape it towards a 2012 deadline. Fingers crossed.

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15 September 2011
It's a gig!
Elvira Arul, Edwin Sumun and I will be doing a tribute gig to the Bacharach songbook on Tue 20 and Wed 21 September at No Black Tie, 17 Jalan Mesui, Off Jalan Nagasari, Bukit Bintang, KL. Admission RM40. 

RSVP here on Facebook.



15 August 2011
Set Adrift, a novel by
I should've been a confessional novelist living in some seedy city like Amsterdam or Berlin. Or Sao Paolo... or Istanbul... or Guangzhou... if only I'd continued partying the way I did when I was in my 20s in a less conservative city, I imagine I would've been published by Penguin by now. :-p

Of course, such revelations don't just happen for no reason. They happen because I turned 36 two months ago. And that's a pretty fun milestone... because I'm half Chinese, it means that I've completed a full cycle of the 12 year animal zodiac. This year is the year of the Wooden Rabbit, the sign I'm born under. So yeah, I've made it this far. And I should have attained some kind of wisdom.

Woohoo. If only...

I ate rabbit meat about a month ago. Is that wrong?


The night I turned 36, I went to see a friend perform in a nice hall. I invited an ex to join me, paid for his ticket and all. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have done that. I thought at the time it was a nice gesture, seeing that we were on the mend, slowly getting back on speaking terms since we broke up. [Well, "broke up" may be a bit of an exaggeration on my part.  I don't think he considered what we had a relationship that could be broken, maybe more of a casual thing.

Still, until now he continues to give me mixed signals...  I mean, I took a photo of him in my room when he came over for a visit earlier this year. The photos turned out nice so I sent a few to him. The next thing I knew he posted it up as his profile photo not just on Facebook but on some gay hookup site. What's up with that? (imagine me raising my voice dramatically) Doesn't he have any other photos of himself? He even has nude shots of himself shot by some other trick he's in love with. Why doesn't he use those photos instead? I'm not that good a photographer! And then there was also that peck on the lips in front of the guardhouse at my condo! I don't mind PDA but he hasn't kissed me in two years! What gives yo? (imagine me pulling on my hair tuft)]

Anyway, I'm not sure why, but maybe it's because I bugged him after the show [he doesn't like being bugged--in a way, I can understand cause I hate being bugged myself], he doesn't speak to me anymore. But I only bugged him because he said he was going to take me out for birthday dinner... ha ha ha... and oh yeah, he called once me asking if he could redirect a query from a foreign journalist about the Bersih protest to me... I also noticed that he posted a poem I wrote about him on his Facebook wall a couple of weeks back--why? Ha ha ha... he's so going to find out that I've been stalking him online if he reads this... how pathetic right? LOL.

About a week ago, I sat down in front of this very computer and deleted all the emails and chats we ever sent to each other. I was still holding onto them for nostalgia's sake. I mean I still love him but thinking about him is kinda fucking me up. I've been like a wind-up toy monkey rattling out the same old tragic tune. It's time to stop living life on Facebook, Jerome... ha ha ha... time to move on and obsess about someone else. LOL.

Two weeks prior to turning 36, the secret job I had been working on as a lyricist for six months disappeared. Poof! The day that my participation in the project was announced to the media in a fancy press conference was the same day that I was asked to leave... basically fired by the guy who hired me... kind of ironic and a tad sad. But it's old news now [and should've rightly taken precedence over the non-news about the ex, but I'm a strange person with a strange sense of priority].

And to be perfectly honest, I grew to resent the job because of some of the circumstances surrounding its battered evolution, not to mention having to work with the terrible director who is, as I'm writing this, allegedly steering the project to disaster. But that's rather mean of me to say. And really since I'm not involved in it anymore, I shouldn't poo it. LOL. No names! It's a small town after all... and the walls are thin. Anyway, I wish everyone who's involved in that project all the best.

Did I just pull the other one? Oh... I am getting better at this...

So, joblessness has become my lot. Not that I'm not enjoying it. In fact, I'm such a natural slacker that since joining the mighty ranks of the unemployed, I've managed to read five novels, watch all four seasons of Big Bang Theory, almost all of David Attenborough comedies (comedies? WTF? since when did Sir David started making jokes about nature? -- i meant to type documentaries...), most of this year's summer movies (including , and even start recording the damned second album... plus playing around with a few of the MIDI tracks that I've lost the original files to a few years back.

You would think that with all that free time, I would've updated this blog more regularly. But life doesn't work that way... no sir.

Demos... yes.

So far, four new songs... it's a snail-paced process plagued with procrastination, slackery and good old-fashioned lazy bumn-ess. I've played them to some close friends who commented politely with encouragements. But I'm always doubtful. I always think the worst and best. I have to. It's because I take it very seriously. I mean, it's not like I'm Yuna and be content with putting out bilge. I have to strive for earth-shattering emo greatness. It's all part of the process... egos must be managed, built up and dumped on -- I blame it all on Sylvia Plath... I can't be mediocre, I can't be mainstream, I have to be like some windswept troubadour singing laments to the universe, thrusting some kind of bitter magic into outer space, vibrating my vibrato with Ginsbergian excess, making everyone cry and feel like shit like Bukowski, scaring little kids and pets, scarring them for life, like Sepultura meets Suzanne Vega... heh... I happen to like Yuna though, she's nice... oh dear... what's happening to my sincerity?

Trust in the process, Jerome, trust in the process...

And maybe because of the process, my writing has slowed down. I haven't written anything new for a while now... maybe my brain is just not in it. Come to think of it, I've been having a strange relationship with the process of writing for the past few months. Maybe I'm depressed. Not aggressively depressed mind you. But more like feeling like a sad little abandoned waterjug in a dim corner of the kitchen, talking to spiders that ignore me.

Wow, that's pretty sad no?


But life's far from terrible.

Two weeks ago, I got a little part time job in a friend's PR company writing press releases. It's not the most exciting thing in the world, but it pays well and leaves me tons of time to be the sad slacker that I am. Sigh.

Maybe I'm not cut out to be a high flyer after all. I've always had bad lungs... I could never run far and fast. If there was a fire in this building right now, I'd probably perish in the smoke... with a cigarette in my hand. Ha ha...

Start over? There were two instances in my life when I moved away to a different city and became someone new. Starting over is never easy. You have to leave so much behind. And being the domestic creature that I am, it takes a lot out of me. But I've been feeling like doing it one last time. In a way, the second album is an excuse to stay, and maybe that's why it's taking me so long to get it done. But I know that when I finish this second album, that'd be it. That'd be as much as I can give to KL and then I'll have to leave or succumb to entropy, doomed to live some kind of unfulfilled lonelier-than-now existence out in quiet old suburbia engaged in mindless drudgery.

Yep... I should start saving up money to buy that one-way ticket.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to hearing Bjork's and Feist's new albums. So far this year, I've only really enjoyed listening to Joan As Police Woman's "The Deep Field". Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes were nice... but I need to listen to something sexier but still emo.

Emo is the way to the future.

By the way, I've erased most of the original demos from my Soundcloud page. Why? Because I want to induce collective amnesia.

And also to make space for new stuff... so watch that space!

... maybe I should move this whole thing to tumblr ...

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06 June 2011
Idle Hand?
Hey ho. As is typical of me, I fail to update this blog regularly. Things happen and whizz past me like blurry figures in a photograph and yet there is much to tell. Although some of it must be done so with a gagged mouth.

Basically I've gone into hiding because I've been involved in a secret musical project which I cannot mention because I've been asked not to disclose the fact that I'm currently involved in a secret musical project about which I must keep mum at all cost, or else risk punishment from the PR department of the company that currently engages me.

Because I cannot divulge any salacious information about the abovementioned project, I must divert your attention to other activities that I've been involved in, or probably will appear in, or maybe these are parallel realities that could be... clouds in my coffee.

My absences... and rare sightings... so rare in fact that I have to tell you about it. LOL.

I haven't been performing much but I did perform at FEYST 2011, organised by Go Group (which is headed by Jasmine Low, one of my most favourite people in KL). It was held over a coupla days in early May at Pavilion KL featuring tons of local bands and invited Swedish folky duo The Harvest (check out their website). Alas, I didn't play the outdoor venue at Pav but at No Black Tie on Monday 9 May together with The Harvest (who are really cool - I got their EP which I love), Reza Salleh, Zalila Lee, Izzy Mohamed, Liyana Fizi, Bo "Bedroom Sanctuary" Amir Iqram, and newcomer Dzamira (who has a sexy husky voice like Fiona Apple). Though I only played 3 songs, the gig terrified me cause I haven't played in a while. But it was nice... as usual, it was only me and the guitar. Liyana came up onstage to join me to sing "Pulau Dendam", which was fun... and to end the night, everyone got up onstage to sing our rather strange untitled collabo... LOL. It wasn't that great I have to admit but we had fun. :-)

The gig was recorded and there are plans to release it. Will keep you posted. :-p

In April, I read a bit... to help promote "Readings By Readings" an anthology of new works (edited by Bernice Chauly and Sharon Bakar) by writers who have previously featured at Readings@Seksan Gallery. I had missed out on the big official launch at MAP@Solaris Dutamas, so I felt obliged to help out at the No Black Tie reading. I read the three poems of mine that were featured in the anthology, along with some candid anecdotes which should not be repeated here because I'm exclusive that way.

I also missed out on the launch of an anthology of German-Malaysian literature... which contains a poem of mine. It's somewhere out there.... I don't even have a copy myself.

More on the poetry front: I found out just the other day that an extract of one of my poems will be set in granite on a sidewalk near a building in KL. I won't spoil the surprise because it will be announced later... look out for it.

I've also been busy writing songs... for a film project by a friend. Again, I shouldn't say much... because it would spoil the surprise. All I can say is that it's a series of ten short films... each short film will feature a song by yours truly. So far I've contributed about four songs, including "I Like" from the first album. The rest of the songs will be new... I'm so tempted to upload them onto my Soundcloud page but that would really truly spoil the surprise. What can I say? Some things in life you just have to wait for.

Do I have anything at all to show for the silence? Well, I've been uploading old tracks from my archive... of old tracks.

Collaborations by jeromekugan

These are a small selection of collaborations, plus one remix, that I've done in the past few years, with Spacebar aka Irman Hilmi who used to be my colleague while I was working at KLue, with Paul Agusta (aka Concrete Aluminium), with Alien Headspace aka Paul Bambury, and a remix of "A Shadow" by Ergo Phizmiz.

Truth be told, I shoulda done more... but I'm a mouse when it comes to collaborations. I've decided that I'm easily intimidated by the confidently talented.

There are some other tracks floating out there that I'd love to upload and just share. In good time.

In other news, I'd been in and out of mourning, read a few books, watched a few movies, went out on a date that didn't really go anywhere, got new flatmates, bought a new pair of shoes, got lots of hugs, met a cute guy from Canada who wanted to ask me about art. I'd also been reconciling with an ex - yes, there are lingering feelings... old dreams appearing... romantic fool that I am.

And then there's a cute guy in Sydney who's keeping a moustache for me. I feel blessed. :-)


03 April 2011
"All The Lovers" (Kylie Minogue cover) on Soundcloud
The other day I bought a digital multitrack recorder so I can start recording at home. I work on music at a moody pace and like the idea of doing things DIY. Recording quality is an issue. But I can't afford it... frankly speaking. So I'm just going cheap and lo-fi. Expect the new album to sound rougher.

I recorded my first song on the recorder. An acid folk cover of a Kylie's song. She's touring right now and I know a friend who is very excited about it.

This is for all the lovers out there.

Jerome - All The Lovers (Kylie Minogue cover) by jeromekugan

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17 March 2011
Gordon Freddy Boyong, RIP
Gordon Freddy Boyong always scolded me for not writing about him. But then again he possessed all the classic symptoms of middle-child syndrome. If was as though there could never be enough attention in the world for him. But he was also a walking contradiction. He shirked from the public light. He hated it when people made a fuss over him. Gordon prized his privacy and independence above all. And because of that he was not the easiest man to get to know.
We've known each other since 1988, back in our hometown Kota Kinabalu. We met sometime during the first week of high school. There was something interesting about him, I thought. Somehow we gravitated towards one another and started talking. Almost immediately we found we shared many mutual interests, one of which was our fascination with pop singers: he adored Madonna, and I Tina Turner; we both liked Whitney Houston. That first year, we studied in the same class. We sat apart in classroom but always inevitably hung out during recess and any free period. We swapped cassettes, exchanged copies of Smash Hits, talked about so-and-so's music videos, gossiped about certain Hollywood movie and TV actors that we fancied, and tried our best to ignore everyone else. We also both disliked sports.

Gordon was a wonderful jester. He was sharp, sardonic, witty. He would often spin the most implausible stories about himself: including the one about the miraculous tiramisu recipe which his grandmother had passed on to him at her deathbed, or about his exotic lineage which included scandinavian extraction, or strangely morbid fantasies about how he'd wish for his corpse to be discovered a la strangled tranny with smeared lipstick, legs akimbo and scattered pearls on the floor (but with noir touches, e.g. flashing hotel neon sign outside the window). You'd have to play along with the mindgame for a while, knowing full well you're being taken for a ride, because you want to see him flash that naughty smile at the end of his bogus fantasies: that he got you.

We also talked about other things: family troubles, high school crushes, yo-yo-ing grades, our hopes and dreams for the future--which included writing songs for Madonna and directing her music videos, styling her shoots, and other sorts of stupidities. He was my ultimate confidante. And I'd like to believe that I was his.

Still, Gordon was not an outwardly emotional person. Even in high school, he had already developed a haughty temperament. I learned early on how he would never admit defeat in an argument. He would much prefer to end the discussion by reiterating his opinion, closing the door on anyone who tried to have a "dialogue" with him. Gordon didn't like dialogues very much. It was his way of the world that mattered, because he knew the secret that lied behind the facade of everything. Nothing pleased him more than having friends and foes, after a time, acknowledging that he had been "right" after all. And he was right most of the time.

I've had many arguments with Gordon over the years. The first big argument we had resulted in a cold war that lasted about half a year. And there were others of comparable intensity. During these cold wars, we would maintain radio silence until one of us caved in and made the call. Because, despite being the occasional cold bitch, I knew he felt deeply and that's a rare thing. Spending all that time with him taught me how to see through the superficialities of life. There was something about the way he considered other people and situations. He was an astute judge of the real undercurrents of human emotions and intuitively recognised what others would fail to notice. I treasured that aspect of him, his frankness of what is, and his imagination of what could be. In him I found a friend for life.

After high school, we drifted apart for a few years. I followed my dream to Australia and back to KK. He went to study engineering in Kuching (and failed), returned to KK. In KK again, briefly, we spent time as young adults ready to embrace our second wind and conquer the world. I went back to Australia again before deciding to move to KL, while he decided to become a chef and study in Switzerland, spending a few years cooking all over Europe. We lost contact for six years. Then, sometime in 2006, I got a call from him. He was coming back. He moved to KL and started work at La Bodega Bangsar as a chef. Later on, he would become the outlet manager of Espressamente Illy at Pavilion, and then eventually move to manage the branch in Bangsar Village.

After Europe, Gordon was a changed man. His adventures on the continent, which he would recount to me in salacious detail, had removed some of the sharper edges of his personality. Yet his sense of humour was retained and deepened. He saw the dark comedy of life unfold before him in everything. While I appreciated this change was necessary, I felt that somehow he was gradually withdrawing into himself. I knew that moving to KL was a sort of defeat. He had sustained more than a few blows to his ego following his retreat from Europe. But I could also see his resolve. He was gathering strength for a personal battle within himself. Within the insular world he built for himself, he struggled to resolve a conflict between what he had become and what he could still change into. The man was no longer an adolescent fantasist and I could imagine how difficult it must have been for him to face the damnation of reality. I know because the same struggle was happening inside me. Again we found each other in more or less the same boat. So we each of us picked up an oar and started rowing.

We would meet up once every fortnight or every month, depending on how busy our schedules were, to have dinner or lunch, sharing our life stories, daily dramas, personal triumphs, talking about Madonna's latest facelifts, dreading the aging process, discussing our hopes and dreams. And despite our conjoined bravado, we knew somehow reality would overcome fantasy, and that sometime in the future our lives would resemble the "everyone else" normality that we loathed with a vengeance. Though the prospect of it made us both shudder, at least we took comfort in the knowledge that one way or another we would be there for each other: two old friends bitching about the life that passed us by. But what does it matter when we have jugs of sangria and endless packs of cigarettes, whiling away our nights in bourgeois Bangsar of all places? He was my shrink. I was his. He was my rival. As was I to him. We were the best of friends, and sometimes worse than enemies. We understood each other. And we both understood the value of it. It's not an understanding that happens in a day. It's something that had taken us years to build: 22 years I knew the man... give or take... now he's moved beyond my knowing.

This morning I got a call from Gordon's sister saying that he had passed away yesterday. I've visited him twice at the hospital with Nabila. I knew he was battling a serious illness and thought he was recovering well. I made him clear chicken ginger broth, something that he had talked about in our many conversations in the past. I was planning to meet up with him for dinner sometime in April when he would be back on his feet again and resuming our tumultuously wonderful friendship. He had been talking about moving to Paris or back to KK. His body is being cremated and his ashes will be flown home. I guess he made his choice.

It's shocking news. I still don't really know how to feel about it. My best friend is gone. I haven't cried yet. It's hard. Over the years, I've lost a few close friends -- Toni Kasim, Benjamin McKay, Caecar Chong. With every death, I feel ripped apart. Only last year Benjamin departed and I still miss him dearly. Now, it's Gordon. My beautiful, amazing, wonderful friend Gordon. He would hate me saying all this emo crap, especially posting it up online for everyone to see. He always said I was the sappier, weaker one, too eager to love, too needy for affirmation. He's right of course. But that's where we differed, Gordon and I. And that difference meant the world to me: to have known someone so similar and yet so different, it can only happen once in a lifetime.

I miss you Gordon. Until we meet again.


29 October 2010
Covering Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat" on YouTube
Recently bought a camera and been playing around with it. Shooting people and things... decided to try out the video recording function today at home (since I got the day off from work) and recorded a vid of myself performing a cover of Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat". Found the tabs for the song online and, just as I thought, it only has a few chords, three in fact, but I reduced it further down to two. LOL. The original version is amazing... love the song. And very excited from listening to Robyn's latest albums. Looking forward to her Body Talk album in its final incarnation. I love the string version of the song "Indestructible" from Body Talk 2. Emocool.

Anyway, here's the video for my version of "With Every Heartbeat". Hope it's OK.

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28 September 2010
The Search for, or more accurately, the Imposition of Meaning, upon Life... and other news
It's almost four in the morning and just got off the phone talking with an acquaintance who's having some problems in her life. Problems... we all have problems... sometimes I think that no matter how optimistic and positive we try to be, problems/obstacles/issues/dilemmas/crap just deluge upon us like a big Judy Garland numbers. We try, we try. Mustn't give up though. Life has many a tricky ways of distracting us from reaching our goals and distancing us from our ideals and principles. Everyday I keep on wondering where I'm supposed to get my next supply of patience and willpower from. What a quandary, hey? Well, if what they say about quantum physics is true and that we're all connected on some subatomic level, then the sun and the moon and the stars will be my guide. Nature, y'know, in all its stinking glorious catastrophe (as Slavoj Zizek said it in Examined Life -- God how I love the way pretentious thinkers state the way things are -- the search for meaning, or more accurately the imposition of meaning upon life, continues).

In other news... lol... I have decided to change my SoundCloud site name from chrysostom to my boring old name... so as to stop confusing people. Thus it is now http://www.soundcloud.com/jeromekugan

Covers by jeromekugan

Just for trivia's sake, the most played cover is "Love Song" by The Cure and the most played original is "Someone (for Qasim)". Thank God there are other emo people out there. If not, I would've been out of business a looooong time ago.

Anyways... I noticed that I've slowed down with the songwriting in the past 3 months -- there was a time I thought I'd be churning out the songs non-stop until 2012. But I think the foam of inspiration that buoyed me in the past 2 years has sort of melted and now I'm just sitting on the floor contemplating it all. Had a couple of interesting life experiences. Two relationships that went nowhere but taught me a lot about how expectations can change people's behaviour so fast, myself included. Also means... that I must move on to the next part of the musical process... record the fucken second album. Frankly... I don't know what it would be for except for self-gratification. Eh... maybe it'd be fun too... it's been a while since I've done some musical arranging. Always a lot of fun tinkling around with sounds.

In case anyone was wondering... I have been very busy with work at the gallery.

I've also been busy with other things -- performed a few small gigs... some of them a bit annoying, mostly because I haven't had ample time and headspace to practise fully some of the new songs I've been trying out onstage, and also because of noisy crowds. It does annoy me... especially when the new songs are kinda quiet and wordy... (Jeez, aren't I pretentious?). Whatever it is, I hate performing in bars. Bar crowds are like hell for musicians. I really can't give two flying pigs' arses about bar patrons anymore. I'd rather perform in a morgue, although I did come close -- my dearest dearest friend Benjamin McKay passed away and I was asked to sing at his funeral -- I sang Ben an acapella version of "Everytime We Say Goodbye", one of my favourite Cole Porter songs. I hope you liked it Ben. Miss you.

I also acted for the first time. KLPAC's transgender production of "Waiting For Godot" (actually on the day of Ben's death I started rehearsal). Directed by Kimmy Kiew, featuring Yuki Choe, Fairuz Tauhid and myself. It was a small production and I enjoyed doing something aside from singing onstage. I wore a blue dress (the things I do for art). Aside from some sweet compliments, I have to say I feel like I'm officially a whore now -- I can just imagine people saying: "That midget -- he thinks he can do anything..." which is not at all true... I can't swim... and I'm totally hopeless with hula hoop-ing. Lol. I am an angel of sweet menace.

In two weeks time I'll be producing/directing my second Rainbow Massacre concert, as part of our third year of doing Seksualiti Merdeka. I'm very excited about it. Also trepidated. Fingers crossed everything will go according to plan! :-D
Hmm... I guess that's about it really.

I wrote a few poems. Some were lost when my hard drive died on me a couple of weeks ago. But three I managed to put up on my Facebook notes before the inevitable happened. "The City Is Crying (for Ben)", "The New Palace" and "Silent Storm" are on my Imaginary Poem blog.