Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Surreal much

I spent last night in hospital. Not for the kids. For me.

Late yesterday afternoon, I had tummy cramps. I'd had them before. Gastric cramps. 3 weeks ago. I didn't think i was going to see a reoccurence so quickly. Anyway, we had a course to get to in the evening and half way there, I said to Packrat that I didn't think I could make my way through the entire 3 hour course. So we went home.

The cramps came in waves of 3. A little one. Sort of like an "aura" cramp. A mid-level pain one. And once that ebbs, the full on motherload one that left me climbing walls, biting pillows, banging headboards just to keep myself from screeching in agony.

Of course, Packrat decided that a GP wasn't going to be good enough, plus parking at night at Holland Village borders on the ridiculous so why waste time? It was straight to Emergency where thankfully, the staff saw that I was dire enough to whisk me right in. Apparently, it would have been bad PR to leave me waiting with the rest of the patients in the waiting room.

Once they got the pain under control, which incidentally took them a good 3 hours because what they started me on didn't work... I took a look around and then wondered if I was lucid or if it was one of those dreams that seemed that like reality but was actually a doppel-world.

There were people of all sorts. In my brother's (who did a couple of ER rotations) words, "lots of weirdos in the ER at night".

1. There was a drunk guy who was yelling at the staff for not allowing him to go to the bathroom. He was wearing an "I'm cool, what's it to you?" t-shirt that in my moments of clarity seemed stangely out of place but apt on him, at the same time.

2. There was a guy who kept yelling for drugs.

3. The one who snored like a fog horn beside me despite all the noise and lights in the ER.

4. The one who had bags and bags of vomit and was still going at it across the room.

5. An entire group of sombre people trooping in and then trooping out, leading me to think someone must have died.

6. The malingerer who kept saying that he had a brain tumour in his head because he had bump on his head and wanted to stay in hospital for a week.

7. Another one who was having chest compressions done to him.

8. Hearing all these terms like 'craniotomy' and 'lipoma' and actually hearing them use the term "push some tramadol".

9. Being able to watch Grey's Anatomy (without sound) while in the Emergency room.

10. Watching my blood spray onto the blanket and floor when they removed the drip and then wonder what sort of blood spatter pattern it was making in CSI terms.

Someone should make a tv episode through the eyes of the patient. It would be plenty bizarre.

Incidentally, to answer the oft asked question, I don't know what I ate. I thought very hard about it and the strange coincidence I could find between the two episodes was that I had raisin bread both times and nothing else for lunch.

Added: For some of the medical readers out there who wanted to know more details than I put in, I had 3 bags of saline pumped into me, 2 shots of tramadol which DID NOT work, 30 ml of VERY vile tasting antacids and finally some Buscophan which stopped the cramping and led me to wonder why that wasn't the first course of action. Apparently, it was because I had said that I had taken some and thrown it up so they thought they'd let the residual Buscophan in me take effect. Only 3 hours later when I was still climbing the rails of the gurney in agony did they figure they had better give me another shot. After which, I was lucid and wanted to go home but they decided to keep me in for observation.

And my observation of the whole thing? Childbirth must feel like that with the waves of what is actually uterine cramping also known as labour. And it led me to think that I could not do natural delivery without pain relief although I was swiftly told that I could and pain was all in the mind. We shall see... if the opportunity ever presented itself.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 10:49

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bad English Part Deux

Many years ago, I got into trouble for writing this post. It was seen as my being an educator and mocking students who didn't speak/write well. Actually, I was just channeling kids and not copying verbatim what they had wrote, listed their names, ages and addresses on it to identify them. But we all know how a local tabloid loves to spin stories and get people into trouble. Of course, she got her come-uppance when she requested to interview me a few years later, had plain forgotten who I was but I hadn't and was absolutely uncooperative in granting her an interview.

And recently, there's been all this talk about leaving English teachers to teach English while parents concentrate on speaking Mandarin to their kids at home. The latter apparently is so important that dialects and everything culturally valuable is cast by the wayside. All in the name of progress. Packrat and I bemoan such a move. We struggle so much in school with substandard English as well as a general mentality that everything that comes out of a particular Old Man's mouth is right and is gold. It annoys us to no end because we and the rest of the English language teachers in Singapore are left to pick up the pieces, pieces that will increase exponentially because of Old Man and His Big Mouth. Of course, Packrat faces it more than I do now because I'm on leave. But I still have to resist the urge to correct my children's teachers when they write in the present tense in the children's communication books. "Evan finishes his lunch today" and "Jordan cries only for a while after you left."

So, we don't suffer Bad English lightly. And imagine my horror and amusement when I buy Baby J a toy pram to play and the words on the box make absolutely no sense. I suspect it was put through Babblefish or something because it looks like English, sounds like English but makes no sense whatsoever.

Caption 1
"It is the best gift for the children! Amazing visual convulsion."
- Visual Convulsions!??? Sounds like my kid will get seizures just playing with the pram! Or something that happens when you watch too much tv!

Caption 2
"Toys series with strong sense for playing!"
"Great arrangement, grand show!" Show? What show?

Even the name of the toy- "Doll Carrier" is misleading.
But then again, it costs $6 so I guess you get what you pay for.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 14:38

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stupid is as stupid gets

I'm fantasizing about going on vacation. I get like that every couple of months. And then Packrat shows me this. People will complain about everything. Some of them are downright daft. Like

So how come stupid people get to go on holiday and I can only dream of it?


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 12:12

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dances with the daffodils

In my family, I am the least creative one. I failed art in school, I cannot visualise how our house will look after the renovation, I have very little concept of colour except on clothes, I find it difficult to think up creative activities for my children. My brothers could draw, paint, do photography, make elaborate bows and wrapping for Christmas (oh that's the other thing. I cannot wrap). In a nutshell, I am least like my mother.

My mother once drew up plans for a doll house and got a carpenter to build it for me. She also decorated my birthday parties on a dime, when I was a kid. And most of all, she did all the flowers for my wedding, from the pews, to the car to my impossible bouquet, where I demanded cascading orchids that would trail half way down my gown. When my brothers were dating, she would do their flowers for Valentine's Day and for us for Teachers' Day. She was a whiz when it came to art and flowers were her forte.

My mother is in London for the next 2 weeks. She's been there a week already. And I miss her. It creeps up on me in the strangest of ways. It was the godparents' wedding anniversary. 5 years ago, when it was their 30th anniversary, we bought them 100 roses and Mom magicked up 2 bouquets, one to be presented to each godparent. Yesterday was their 35th anniversary and I needed, once again to get flowers. But Mom wasn't around. So, reaching into the deep recesses of my brain, I had to call upon lessons that I had blatantly ignored but somehow fortunately osmosised into my brain and figure out how to do what she usually does.

I knew I had to go to the nursery. Mom poo-poohed at buying flowers from the florist because it was daylight robbery. So, off to the nursery we went. Unfortunately with 2 children in tow, we couldn't go to the one that she would have gone to. We went to the one at Rid-out Garden, thankfully in the morning and not the afternoon where trees were crashing down because of the lightning storm. But it was far inferior to its main sister branch. Far inferior because in their sub-arctic cold room was only 4 bunches of roses, 2 bunches of lilies, 3 bunches of gerbers and daisies and some bunches of what Mom called 'filler' flowers like babies' breath. In my head, there was Mom giving instructions. "Roses have bloomed! Even in the cold. That means, they'll die very fast in the heat!" "Daisies are not anniversary flowers!" So what was left were the lilies. Lilies it was. With purplish 'filler' flowers to go along with it. Then came, how in the world do I assemble it? The most I would do was just go with Mom to the nursery to pick out the flowers. I never hung around long enough to see what she did with them and how they became beautiful bouquets without too many leaves and thorns.

But like I said, Mom wasn't here so I had to figure out stuff.

1. I needed a vase.
2. Or I needed some wrapper.
...both of which were not sold at the nursery. Improvise.
3. Buy tallish flower pot.
4. Buy flower sponge so that it isn't a case of water sloshing around.
5. Strip the leaves of the lilies.
6. Cut them to length (realising that I needed to PLAN what I was going to do with them first and thankfully, lilies were VERY long-stemmed so there was much length to play around with.)
7. Soak the flower sponge. (Here, I got the twins involved. They poked holes in the sponge so that the sponge soaked water faster. And they watched the bubbles form and escape from said sponge).
8. Stick the lilies in, take a step back and look if I've created a jungle with wild lilies thanks to the 'filler' flowers. (I think Mom said something about perspective)
9. Fret and worry that it's not good enough.
10. Almost throw a fit because I no longer live in a house where ribbons are in abundance.
11. Rifle through what little belongings I have to find ribbon.
12. Discover wedding bells and decoration used at our wedding with ribbons still attached.
13. Bunch them together, tie them up, use some more nylon ribbon, tie it round the vase as a final touch.
14. Decide it has got to do and wish Mom was here to save the day.

According to Packrat, it didn't look too bad. Plus it was quite large. The godparents were impressed so that was good.

This is what Mom did for me.

This is what I did for the godparents. A far cry.

A side note, I can't be a florist. I was wheezing and itchy from all the pollen. I also recall Mom saying florists always cut those off, but I was running out of time. And so, well, I suffered.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:30

0 thoughts...

Trick question

If you were given $1000 and told that you had to spend it i.e. not put it in the bank and told that you had to buy things with it, i.e. not a spa package or any other sort of services, what would you buy?

Ondine tossed this thought in at 14:10

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Saturday, March 14, 2009


In a moment of weakness, while buying a present for my nephew, I decided to give in to a momentary whim and succumb to my current Gossip Girl craze and buy a Swiss knife. A Swiss knife in itself is not very Gossip Girl. The girls on the Upper East Side have dry wit, bitchy stares and a limitless bank account to protect themselves. A $26 Swiss knife isn't going to fend off anything they haven't already figured out how to.

But it was pretty, it was pink and what totally blew me away and made me NEED to get it was the little inscription. XOXO.

Not the greatest of pictures because unlike the camera phones that take surreptitious photos on Gossip Girl, mine is the suck. But well, like I said, I don't live on the Upper East Side.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:15

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Guilty Pleasure

Packrat and I haven't been going out the last few nights. We've been sleeping late. We haven't been doing whatever work we've needed to get done. We're blurry eyed in the morning and we stumble, trip and walk into things when traipsing across the landing to give our offspring milk in the wee hours of the morning; mostly because at that point, the both of us had just fallen asleep.

So what have we been up to? It's something we're doing together. It's something that's been keeping us talking. It gets us both riled up, hot and bothered, thumping at the sheets and occasionally caused the pillows to fly.

But nope. It isn't X rated.

For the last couple of nights, we've been living it up with the salacious and scintillating scandals of Manhattan's Upper East Siders. We've been watching Gossip Girl. I'd heard about it, as had Packrat but since we've generally had limited time and are already to watching so many tv shows, Grey's Anatomy (Me), Sarah Connor Chronicles (Packrat), Desperate Housewives (Me), Dollhouse (Packrat), CSI (Us) and have put some on hold, Heroes (Packrat), Brothers and Sisters (Me), BSG (Packrat)... we were reluctant to commit. But a friend lent it to us, enticing us by revealing that Kirsten Bell from Veronica Mars ( a series we are still mourning) plays the same role Brenda Strong plays in Desperate Housewives- the omniscient, never to be seen, always heard protagonist. On top of that, it's basically the lives of these spoilt teen heirs and heiresses who think $10 000 is a couple of "Manolo Blahniks and a Chanel Bag" but it is a blog. And Packrat and I, well more in the past than now, live on blogs.

That and the fact that the show despite its extremely ditzy premise draws elements of the other shows we've loved and lost. A show that draws us in, in the long term needs to have story, needs to be clever (The West Wing), needs to have clever dialogue (Friends, V Mars), preferably change lexicon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even to a certain extent Grey's), needs to have characters that are not uni-dimensional; that one might start out hating but then realise half way through he's really not that bad (Spike from Buffy, Logan from V Mars) and preferably eye candy. And it wasn't always just about the clothes, the bags, the limousines and the private jets although that did make us wonder how the show was going to be received in a time of severe cutbacks and environmental degradation (carbon footprint much!), it was also about the relationships and the people. And it got us talking.

Even at 2 in the morning and having to be up at any time for the kids' feeds, Packrat and I would lay dissecting what we liked and didn't like, who we agreed with, why she shouldn't have done what she did to who she did it to and why he was justified in reacting the way he did about the thing she didn't do and so on till I had to surrender and admit that it was impossible for me to form another coherent sentence let alone thought.

But we're done with the first season, after the very intense 3 or 4 weeks of it. And we're feeling a little bit lost because we're going to miss our nightly iridescent companions. Just like how
" In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer. "
is etched in our pop culture memory, as will
"Gossip Girl here. Your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite. You know you want all the latest gossip. That's why I'm here.
You know you love me. XO XO"

There's no hiding good tv and there really ought to be more.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:26

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sai Kang

I haven’t been able to blog for the past week or so. For various reasons.

1. I’ve had nothing to say.
2. I haven’t done anything or seen anything worth blogging about.
3. My brain’s been working on a ‘safe’ mode to keep it from exploding.
4. I’ve been averaging 3 hours of sleep a night.

It sure sounds like when I was teaching. When it was grading season and the amount of work was an avalanche and rather copious. And when at the same same time, the kids are ill and the sky is falling over head. At that point, all systems shut down and only the emergency back ups with the really dim lights were on.

And that pretty much was what last week was like. No, I did not go back to work.
I was doing some sort of work though. A friend needed some help to do something akin to brainless data entry. Lend her a few days, bail her out of a rut and get some spare cash from it. Sounded easy enough. But it came in the thousands and the deadline was within a few days. That meant, a huge chunk of time even though it was the most intelligent and stimulating of work, it was work that sucked time,energy and my soul.

I’m glad I’m done with it. When I was done with it, after a last burst of adrenaline to do damage control on some of it, I felt freed. Freed the same way I felt after major exams. Mine, not my students. Or after I’d written my dissertation at the end of my fourth year. But that wasn’t right. It wasn’t something that important or life impacting. It was just menial work on a dime. It didn’t pay. It sounded a lot on paper and it sounded easy on paper but it wasn’t.

At the end of it, the thought that kept resounding in my head was “geez, I actually found something I hate more than teaching”. No, I’m not about to wax lyrical about teaching and it’s going to take a lot more to convince me to go back to it, but this was bad. And I learnt a new phrase from the entire experience. “Sai Kang”. In dialect. Which literally means ‘shit work’; work that no one wanted to do, work that was a shitty deal (pun both intended and unintended. )Which it was. And I also learnt that when you got out of it in one piece and intact, you were a Sai Kang warrior.

That I was.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 13:38

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"