Friday, February 25, 2005

How romantic

Well as we are on the subject of romance, fast forward Valentine's Day by 10 days, let's talk of love, or the lack of it.
Whether you think the little winged cherub is adorable or just plain evil, requiring it to be shot by anti-aircraft missiles, don't go away yet. A wise person once said that Man loses his mind over life, Woman over love. (Thanks Eugene. Convey my thanks to that wise person, won't ya?)

I would like to get this answered once and for all. Is romance just a feminine concept? Do men ever feel the need for romance? Do men GET the idea in the first place?

Honestly, would you feel touched if your lady spent the night knitting you a His and Hers sweater or would you rather have her pass you a crate of beer and a year subscription to Hustler? Actually, I think I know the answer to that.

Okay, let's start easy, what is romance to you guys? and Do you want it?

Let me hear from you in here or via email.
To my dear Singapore Tengku, being the most sentimental fellow I know, you better come up with something.

Beauty is in the unexpected. I stumbled upon a facinating picture of what appeared to be frothing cups of coffee in charming earthern mugs. How romantic.

You know how sometimes you see a picture and it stops you dead in your tracks and invokes pure unadulterated feeling? It was warm and fuzzy for me.

Turned out to be bowls of turkey broth.

Amusing but I take back romantic. Something about feeling mushy over somebody's Thanksgiving leftovers.

So is the truth really liberating?  Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Thank you

I did not expect The Meaning of Life to have stirred so many people. Kind of you to share the recipe of your own happiness with me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
The common ingredient that flavours all the happy stories is basically self determination. The conscious decision to pursue happiness, however you perceive it.

Okay, many have also noted the length of my entries. Its verbal diarrhoea taking on the form of literary incontinence. Will give more digestible bite-sized pieces from now.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

sambung cerita

I knew my great grandfather had two wives, which was normal at their era. My grandmother was the daughter of the younger wife. The elder didn’t have any children.

While both my great grandmothers’ photographs are on the ancestral tablet up on the wall, neither of their ashes are kept in the niche. There is a logical explanation to this.

It was/is normal for people to reserve their niches in memorial halls or temples even while they are still alive. All to secure auspicious registration numbers and locations within the hall as well as to ensure they get it at a good price before inflation sets in. Yes, very Chinese.

Anyway, my elder great grandmother was baptised just before she passed on, so she was laid to rest as a Christian. Yet since the niche was already paid for, the family thought might as well we have her picture up in the Chinese memorial hall anyway. As for my other great grandmother, it came as a rude shock when one year, as my grandmother went to visit her mother’s grave, she found that it had disappeared. It seemed that after 10 years, families are requested to move the remains of their kin so as to make way for others. (Recycled grave space- how charming.) Anyway, we never received the letter informing us of this, so the caretakers took the liberty of removing the bones and burying them under a tree somewhere. Grandmother was naturally heartbroken.

Great grandfather has a traditional carved ancestral tablet laid in our clanhouse. We belong to a big formidable Chinese clan it seemed. With more mahjong going on inside than kungfu practices nowadays, I wonder if the clan is more of a toothless tiger on a stroller than a menacing teething monster. Anyway the clanhouse is reportedly so dark and so eerie, none in my family has ventured in there in years. Mother recounts a life-sized wooden figure with arms outstretched in front, right at the front door. I am glad I don’t need to take any tiffin carriers in there to be honest.

Okay it is late and I am spooking myself out. End of entry.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Tablets

Outside, it was refreshingly tranquil - a rarity in Penang especially at this time of the year. The interior remained unchanged, perhaps not as dark as I remember it, but still full of dead shadows. Ashes drifting in the air, smoke silently snaking up to the ceiling from the numerous urns of a hundred joss sticks.

I knew instinctively where to look for my great grandmothers’ tablet. Lined from the ceiling down, rows upon rows of photos of the dearly departed can be a bit daunting. Old people in old photographs never smile. I don’t know if it is a good thing in this circumstance. I don’t know what would freak me out more, a frowning mug shot or a grinning fa├žade.

I have been making pilgrimages to this memorial hall since I was a kid. Almost always with grandmother.

Following the typical routine, the rice and the home-cooked food would be laid out in from the tiffin-carrier, the tiny cups of Chinese wine lined in a row and fresh mandarin oranges, set in threes upon red plastic plates with faded gold borders. Joss sticks and prayers are then offered. And as always, I would watch in fascination as my mother, after a silent respectful invitation to the matriarchs to partake the offerings, throw a pair of 50 cent coins on the floor.

Either heads or both tails or heads and tails - I forget but one of those combinations would indicate whether the spirits have returned to accept the food offerings. Then we wait. Wait for them to makan finish la. Another throw of coins would indicate whether they are done. If they are, then its time to pack up and go. If not, one will have to wait. Then ask again.

My mother is always given the honour of doing the coin tossing simply because she was my great grandmother’s favourite. Sure, it is all about the science of probabilities you say. Yet time and time again, when another relative takes over the asking, we ended up having to wait almost forever for the madams to be done with lunch. Go figure.

And it was on one of these waiting sessions that it occurred to me how little I knew about my roots. So I did some snooping.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Meaning of Life

It is simply appreciation. The need to feel relevant. That we have a purpose in life and we are actively furthering the purpose. To be worth something. Anything. To somebody or something at least. Having a cause makes life worth living. Be it a family, a job or for the arts or science, you pick.
I do not think the human soul is meant for idleness.

Well that is my take anyway. I exclude monks from my discussion. They throw my theory into whack. I know too little about monks to comment.

Now that I have discovered the meaning of life, I am no where close to feeling enlightened because I am lacking a purpose. 28 years old and no purpose. I should be terrified. Let me rephrase that. I should be shit terrified. Ah, and I showed so much promise.

I think we all are capable of going to great lengths to be appreciated. But trust me, being super nice to people is not good for the soul. Trying to be agreeable all the time is not good for the soul. I know, you would think who wouldn’t like a Nice Guy/Gal? But after being Ms Doormat, Mademoiselle Taken for Granted, Miss Won’t Take a Stand for The Sake of Keeping the Peace, I quit. I quit. I quit.

And if you fall under this category, heck you should too. At the end of the day, if you don’t appreciate yourself, don’t kid yourself in thinking anyone else would.

I am real good for advice but I am at the drawing board on how to make it work. I am still working on standing up for myself. Right now I am taking it out on service providers. Yes I do feel empowered when I politely send back a lipstick stained coffee mug to the sour-faced Starbucks barrista. And complaining about the lousy soft-shelled crab at Genki Sushi. And yes, I feel I am doing the world a favour by blasting Maxis for their connection problems.

I am a customer. Hear me roar.

Being inconsequential sucks. For example, I am acutely aware that my brother has little regard for me. He is young, artsy and independent. At this juncture, the world is his crustacean. I am neither thin, fashionable nor popular. I am relevant only because I am his sister and little else. He sure as hell ceased looking up to me. And I feel funny about it.

Anyway the point I am trying to make, albeit, in a very roundabout way, is how crucial it is to be and more importantly to know, that one is being appreciated.

Well, I didn’t and feeling sorry for myself apparently didn’t help. I even went through mild depression. Even dropped hints the size of Mexico to let people know about it. (my cry for help la konon). Didn’t work. Empathy was not forthcoming. Nobody smothered me with love and chicken soup. No hero came to yank me out of the pits.
The truth is I didn’t even stand out. When one is clawing out of depression solo, one wonders what is wrong with oneself that nobody even notices. Could it be that nobody gives a toss?

So lesson learnt, we are all responsible only for our own happiness. Goodness, this entry is beginning to sound preachy. This is so not a story where protagonist goes through tragedy, learns lesson and becomes a better woman. As if.

Heck I crave approval still, I hurt when I feel alone, I am still looking for that thing, that elusive Purpose-in-Life that I will be good at, that would make me feel worthy, complete. But I am bent on worshipping little me and keeping myself relatively happy for now before I woo the world.

True happiness is in your hands. So be selfish. And go all ahead for personal empowerment. And most important, remember to be polite when you send things back to avoid finding spit in your coffee.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Keong Hi Huat Chye

As true as ever to my Hokkein roots, I am off to have my reunion dinner up north. Early as usual. Afraid of finding bits of human in fish, steamboat is off the menu and BBQ is in! I am bringing the marshmellows. Yes, very Chinese.

Happy new year of the rooster, people. Yes, Rooster. Get use to that term.
No cock and bull.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Just shoot me

I had the misfortune of sitting close to two middle-aged ladies in the train this afternoon. I, and the rest of the passengers of the carriage, could not help but overhear their gossip. It was regrettable that they could not find it in their hearts to not holler at the top of their voices.

It is one thing to hear good-hearted forgettable clothesline gossip but this left such a bitter taste in the mouth that I left the train quite ill. It was so malicious, beastly and spiteful they were practically spitting the words out. Call me naive but I would like to ban older people from cursing. I would like to think that as we mature, we grow more civilised. Oh boy, was I wrong.

To publicly denounce Tiger Woods for dating a floozie (her words, not mine!), to blame another sportsman's poor performance on his wretched ex wife, as well as denounce liberal sex of those sickening Westerners, all in one long solid breath is a bit of an overdose for me. To hear it all and lots lots more with the healthy sprinkling of expletives, in perfect Queens English does not cushion the shock one bit. It was the unadulterated spite that got to me honestly.

Come dinner time, I was denied peace again as a family of four decided to invade the table next to mine at my local eatery. This time it was the tween. The thought had crossed my mind to reach across and give her a good slap in between her dramatic rolling of eyes and "this is a free country, you know"s. If I ever was this annoying while growing up, I wonder where my parents found the the self restraint to not shoot me.

I must remember though to tell my brother that as I grow ungracefully older, if I morph into being as nasty as the terrible train ladies, to get the rifle out before I scar innocent people.

Much Ado

Another invite. I wish I can say that it unfazed me. But who am I kidding.

I truly wish her happiness. I really really do. The gown is gorgeous. The lilies are perfect. Her jewellery is eye-blinding, mind-numbing oppulence. She deserves to be so happy and I am furious with myself for feeling the way I do. I am just reeling from unfathomable sadness.
Before you jump to conclusions, no I am not in love with the groom.

Perhaps it was a good thing that my own relationship went bust before we got to the stage of finalising seating arrangements. It would be a sorry sight indeed if he splutters his goodbyes in between the exchange of teacups.

Anyway, it is all history now. Do I wish him well? Of course not. I can't afford such maturity just yet. At least I have stopped thinking up nefarious schemes of blowing up his life into tiny smithereens to be peck at by birds. Oh my, that sounded just a teeny weeny bitter.
You must agree that I am at least entitled to a rant after being cheated out of a wedding.
I hope it bloody floods at his.