Tuesday, December 30, 2008

#456 why I should have joined the foreign service...

Apparently, diplomats don't need to pay sales tax.

Darn, I wish I didn't listen to my parents.

I must really miss outlet shopping.

That, I do.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:14

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Boy movies

I don't know why I keep allowing it to happen but I keep going to see movies that I don't really want to see and I come out of them feeling extremely unsatisfied, grumpy and sleepy. Why do I subject myself to them? Most of the time, it's in the name of couple time and date night. I do it because I want to spend time with Packrat, who wants to see these movies. I do it because if I didn't, we'd be at home in front of our computers not talking to one another. One might ask how much talking gets done at the movies, but well, at least there's closer proximity, snuggling, the occasional jibe and giggle and the drive back and forth.

I'm sure there were others before it, but first there was James Bond. I think there was Dark Knight before that and that other one, the one that made me indignant and angry at Afghan men as a race... Iron Man, that's right and well, last night there was Zack and Miri make a Porno. While it didn't make me want to kill myself like Bond did, it did make me keep giving Packrat evil glances that he could feel even though it was dark and he couldn't quite see me. I think it coincided with every bad/ sex- related/ physical-American Pie/ poop type jokes. I had a bad feeling about the movie the minute I stepped into the cinema because of the primarily male audience.

By the end of the movie, I had taken a nap, counted about 5 chick flick movies that I could force Packrat to go to in exchange for the 2 hours +++ (+++ for all the other boy movies that I've watched in the last year), thought about going shopping and having had time to feel guilty about it as well and bemoan the dearth of chick movies once again.

I think increasingly, with my lack of energy and time, I'm less tolerant of movies that don't do anything for me and I'm sorry to say and shallow as it sounds, these movies don't do anything for me. I notice with mild but increasing panic that the repertoire of movies that I have tolerance for is becoming smaller and smaller. This is not to say that only chick flicks do it for me but something of it really has to appeal to me on some level and boy movies really just don't have anything that appeals to me.

I am not a boy. I am a girl. And I WANT TO WATCH GIRL MOVIES!

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 07:40

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays.

We're finally back in Singapore after a somewhat harrowing journey from Las Vegas to LA to Tokyo where we missed our connection back to Singapore and then eventually onto Singapore. I stand by what I said going into the US, in a much better mood, that something has got to be done about LAX and how it looked like it's been hit by Somalian pirates. Anyway, we were concerned we were going to miss our kids' Christmas but thankfully not.

And Christmas morning it is.

The strange thing is even though 86% of Americans celebrate Christmas, I did not ONCE, in my entire stay there hear anyone wish anyone else a Merry/ Blessed (for the secular and the religious) Christmas.

Apparently, it is politically incorrect to and it is exclusionist. So for those who celebrate Hannukah, Diwali, Hari Raya and every other religious holiday, wishing someone a Blessed or Merry Christmas is prejudicial. It's akin to laughing at them for not being Christian or pagan enough to enjoy Christmas turkey and presents. That, in my opinion is a load of crap. The holiday is called Christmas. It's a religious holiday. We wish our non-Christian friends a Happy ______ (insert name of religious day here) and are perfectly fine about it. But maybe it's because we live in Singapore where we grew up with the idea that Muslim students during the month of Ramadan could go home earlier in preparation for breaking fast and that Hindu students got Thaipusam off even though it was an official school day.

So it was mildly ridiculous that everyone wished me a Happy Holiday all the way in till we were on a Singapore Air flight that had pulled out all the stops with decor on the flight and crew wishing us a MERRY CHRISTMAS. Trust us, politically incorrect Singaporeans to fully emerge ourselves in the secular celebration of a religious holiday. I think there should be a berth given to those of other religions and there should be acknowledgement of the religious festivals they celebrate too. What annoys me about some and I think adds to the irk factor behind this "Happy Holiday" campaign is the the the implied endoresement it gives to others not knowing the true meaning behind the festival. As is, in sunny Singapore, it has never failed to make my jaw drop that many people don't understand or know why the Muslims celebrate Hari Raya Puasa (Ramadan) and Hari Raya Haji or that there is something known as a festival of lights (Diwali) for the Hindus. All they know is that they get a public holiday and all that needs to bother their pretty little heads about is how to stretch it out into a long weekend so that they can go somewhere.

I must sound totally Bah Humbug writing this. But I'm not. I just like my freedom to wish someone else a Blessed Christmas, even if that person is not Christian. And what person, regardless of religious, colour or creed doesn't like being blessed?

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Monday, December 22, 2008

On the trail of Grissom, Day 8.

We're down to our last day in Vegas. We've done a lot and at the same time, done nothing. It's been a great vacation to just hang out with one another and chill, actually talk but also shop like there was no tomorrow. 2 words. Outlet. Shopping. And you'll never want to buy retail again. Ever.

The only thing we hadn't done in the lead up to our leaving is to catch a show. We've done everything else.
So what hadn't we done?
So, yesterday, we managed to check off two of the 3 things we had on the list. We saw the Tigers at the Secret Habitat of the Mirage as well as dolphins up close with a baby dolphin as well. All very cool. I cannot get over the fact that I can't play with Tigers the way I played with my cats because watching the tiger cubs (there were four of them) rough and tumble reminded me of watching my cats pounce on one another. Packrat reminds me of Roy's attack as well as the guy in the Singapore zoo, all at the hands (well, paws) of white tigers. Amazingly, the enclosure had White Tigers and White Lions. We left when Packrat couldn't feel his fingers anymore and I had happily purchased a snow white tiger plush toy for myself. (Jordan can play with it, but it's Mommy's!)

That was item one.

Item two was to see a show. We got free tickets to see a Burlesque show. It's a long story how we got the tickets and I'm not going into it. Sufficed to say, we got tickets to a show that is usually sold out and very expensive. In Packrat's words, it's as close to strip show as I'm going to get unless I really want to risk heading to one of the strip joints near the tattoo parlours near the wedding chapels. Sounded good in theory. Dinner and then a (Burlesque/ Cabaret) show, the true Vegas experience. The thing is, for me, I saw it from a very performance point of view. So, I marvelled at the way they moved, the high kicks and the fluidity while at the same time amused that they were taking off various pieces of clothing as the show went on. The thing about Cabaret shows is that there isn't total nudity, just the suggestion of it. Possibly to retain some semblance of propriety or because tantalising is always better than in your face nudity. The problem was, after a while, there is such a thing, well, for me anyway, as too much boob and while varying in sizes, a boob is well, just a boob. So, I fell asleep, even with girls dancing on a pole in front of me. But at least I was there and I had fun while I was conscious. I'm sure Packrat had fun so I'm not asking him to comment.

My biggest bugbear about the whole trip and it came to a head last night during the show was how in Vegas, it's ok to smoke. And it's ok to smoke EVERYWHERE. So, the old cliche about smoke filled gambling saloons? Very true. And the less classy the casino is, the more smoke there is. And the Burlesque show took place in a mid-class hotel where it wasn't just smoke in the casino, it was smoke in the entire hotel. That led me to remark that it was no wonder that all the hotel drugstores sold Visine, eye drops that make one's eyes freakishly white. It also led to Packrat and I having scratchy throats and glazed eyes. Well, it's a once in a lifetime thing. I don't think I would go to another cabaret show, not like this though, I still want to go to the Bette Midler one and I don't think I'd set foot into another casino that was so smoke filled again.

So now, we're done. The only thing left is to endure the horrendously long flights and connections back to Singapore. I maintain, if the USA wants to be a global power, it really should make itself more accessible to the rest of the world.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the trail of Grissom, Day 7.

How to get married, Vegas style.

  1. Get some rings. (We did it big by way of Tiffany)
  2. Decide when to do it. (We chose today)
  3. Go to the Regional Justice Centre of Clark County (You have to go through the seedy part of Vegas where the adult movie shops are next to the tattoo parlour which are next to the wedding chapels, all in one stop.)
  4. Fend off the chapel touts. (They're usually immigrants who don't speak very well, trying to push brochures into your hand and give you "big" discount of the packages)
  5. Duck into the Marriage Bureau to get away from the touts.
  6. Fill in separate forms, pay USD$55 to get a license and say thank you to the nice lady speaking to you through the microphone and plexi-glass.
  7. Leave the marriage bureau under the barrage of touts who try to hawk their packages to you while trying to duck the Marshall who will fine them $1000.
  8. Decide which cheesy wedding chapel you want to go to and what kind of wedding. a) Drive through, b) at the window, c) at the fountain (some chapels have fountains), d) at a sweeping staircase, e) By someone famous, f) with Dvds, g) with photos (and then how many?), h) with gown and tux, i) with music, j) with plastic flowers or fresh flowers
  9. Go to said marriage bureau and declare your intention and tell them your choice. We chose a ceremony, with photos, with music, with plastic flowers and a minister who would say a prayer for us.
  10. While waiting your turn, have cheesy wedding photos taken in the true style of the Taiwanese photographers where looking at the corner of the bench for the downcast eye look and taking photographs of the subject in question through a mirror constitutes artistic.
  11. Walk down the aisle, alone to Wagner's Bridal march and have groom meet you at the half way point.
  12. Say "I do" at the appropriate places and repeat the vow of sincerity, faithfulness and helpfulness (No obedience or honouring...) all the while looking at spouse-to-be or spouse already and trying not to laugh.
  13. Place rings on fingers, groom will kiss bride, Minister will declare couple married and couple walk out to Wedding March by Mendelsohn.
  14. Be congratulated by everyone else in the chapel, put back tacky plastic flowers, receive momento marriage cert (we need to send out for the real one).
  15. Tip the photographer and the Minister.
  16. Thank everyone and leave.
  17. Go have a nice meal after that. (We chose Maggiano's and were quite pleased with our choice)
So, that's what we did today. It took us the better part of the afternoon. And we had the Something Old (our clothes, I wanted to do this in a pink wig and something exciting like alien costumes or Buffy outfits or something but it was hard to find and everything in Vegas is crazy expensive) and Something New (our Tiffany rings), Something Borrowed (the tacky plastic floral bouquet) and Something Blue (my hands, even though it's stopped snowing, it's still really cold).

Well, that's the highlight of the day. So how does it feel getting married the second time round to the same guy? Still feels pretty darn good. :)

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 13:49

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Friday, December 19, 2008

On the trail of Grissom, Day 6.

When we decided to come to Vegas for the winter, we thought it would be just cold. It has been cold. Quite. Cold. It has also been dry which means my skin itches, my nose bleeds and my hair stands up. Yup, dry weather equals to a lot of static and I'm a very charged person, as in I store a lot of static. Brushing my hair is impossible, taking off my sweater means pulling it over my head and my hair then looks like I got electrocuted and I try hard not to touch metal surfaces, lifts, car doors etc. It is always a danger to try and kiss Packrat because you can actually hear the sparks between us and these are not the type of sparks that relationships are supposed to be made of. It makes for unhappy and literally smarting people.

So that was the weather we sort of knew we were getting ourselves into. There was talk of some rain and possibly some snow Monday morning. I woke up at 7 am to watch because that was when it was supposed to be snowing. But it was just rain. The thing about the Strip is that it is so lit up and that it's hard for snow to have a chance to remain snow amidst all the lights. Wednesday, Packrat and I decide to walk the Strip again. Well, actually take the monorail down the Strip because it looked wet. By the time we got to the Venetian, it was coming down hard and looked like a mixture between rain and slush. I felt sorry for the gondolas outside the Venetian because they looked very very frozen and I also wondered if the water froze over, would they still have to stand tall in the gondolas?

Through the walkways of 'Venice', we heard whispers about snow though all we saw when we stepped back out was a lot of rain and even that is a bit strange for the desert. By the time we got to our next stop, which was Tiffany (yes, I have a gleam in my eye), we knew for a fact that it was closing. Tiffany was shutting down its store because it had been deemed dangerous for their staff to drive back after dark and they wanted their staff home asap. We felt bad because we were the only people in the store and they were basically waiting for us to leave. I must add at this juncture, that the Tiffany staff in Singapore have NOTHING on the staff here. Anyway, everyone was in a flurry. Apparently, it hadn't snowed like that in about 30 years and the city was not very prepared to deal with it. The freeways shut down, schools were declared shut the next day, the States only 2 snow ploughs or whatever had to be deployed, driving to LA was a No-no, as was driving to Salt Lake City, flights in were cancelled, flights out were grounded, just one big panic, one big mess.

But for us, tourists who were staying put and not going anyway, it was quite exciting. There was snow on the roads, snow on the cars, snow on the pyramid, the sphinx, the pirate ship, the Eiffel Tower, all over. The good thing about the snow was that the air was wet (I have a thing for snow air), I got to bundle up in my winter jacket and cuddle up to Packrat who was freezing because SOMEONE was too macho to bring a thicker jacket. Ok, wait, to his credit, he had a thicker jacket but in his excitement to see the snow, he ran, slipped on a patch of slush and got soaked through. Hence, the thick jacket got wet and he was freezing in a fit for Singapore offices type of jacket.

The sad thing was looking down on the Strip now, we wouldn't know that two days ago, there was chaos, panic and child like glee. It's gone back to charged, dry, cold weather. I'm praying it'll stay this way though because we leave first thing Monday morning and we cannot afford for the flights to get cancelled. I want to get home in time for Christmas with my kidlets.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 01:28

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the trail of Grissom, Day 5.

What have we done since we've got here apart from freeze in the desert?

We've shopped. We've hit the outlet malls and it's convinced us that we are not buying retail again, not if we can help it.

We've eaten. There's some food porn on my blog and some on Packrat's.

And we've walked. A lot. The Strip's good for walking when there isn't a sandstorm and the shops are decadent. On the streets though, there are these people called Clickers. They give out girly cards, enticing you to call for a prostitute who will be guaranteed to show up at your doorstep in 20 minute. I've christened them the 20 minute Girls. The Clickers aren't very discerning about who they give the cards too. Kids, women, everyone. The-Schooled in Women's Rights- Me wonders how it is that WOMEN could give these cards out and to other women at that. But I know they're doing it at probably below minimum wage and because they need to put food on the table.

Being here also removes us from reality. Everything is Over the Top here so I thought I should at least take a peak at what was going on back in the Very Real Singapore. Breaking News told me that the world was still out there and trying to kill itself today. My eyes then swept over the 10 most popular stories. I usually look at this when I read the NY Times because it gives me a sense of what has caused righteous outrage or what has caught people's attention.

The problem with looking at the Top 10 stories Singaporeans or ST Interactive readers have read, it leaves me with some not too flattering conclusions.

  1. They don't read about anything that matters.
  2. They aren't very interested in what happens in the world unless it's got to do with sex.
  3. They LOVE reading about sex scandals ( 5 out of ten of articles have to do with sordid sex)
  4. They like reading about other people in trouble.
I think it's fine that people read about these things among the other things that they read about but when these articles come out as top hits, it is no surprise that the Paper really doesn't try to be more intellectual and publishes sensation on its front page.


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 01:19

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the trail of Grissom, Day 4.

Every time we go to a western country, we're always floored by the choices provided to us. And we always lament how we are unable to get that sort of choice at home. Today, we were reminded that food wise, the US beats Singapore hands down. Of course, they beat us hands down in almost everything, but today, we were reminded about food. The size of their supermarkets are legendary, so are the sizes of their jars of peanut butter. But that much, we knew from previous trips. This time, we discovered a healthier alternative.

There's such a big move to eat more healthily, be more environmentally conscious, be socially conscious and to boycott GM food, hormones, chickens kept in inhumane conditions and all. It's hard to do back home. Organic food costs an arm and a leg. I buy organic stuff only for our kids. But here, we discovered, not only is there organic food, there's an entire organic supermarket. And they have everything from fruit, to meats to cooked food. We decided, after having eaten enough junk food to feed an entire high school class, to eat healthy this evening.

From top left to right: Oyako-don with brown rice (chicken, egg with brown rice and teriyaki sauce), Broccoli with garlic and olive oil, vegetable medley (squash, zuchinni, cauliflower and broccoli), Cajun fried chicken thighs, Seafood Gumbo and Alaskan king crab leg.

All organic. All yum. It cost a lot though. About USD$50 for everything but then again, the crab leg cost the bulk of it and Packrat assures me that it costs more in Singapore. But half way through the meal, I was full so I have half my rice and vegetables for dinner tomorrow which I am happy to have. All that was then topped off with organically grown Californian navel oranges and apples.

This should help with countering the effects of the six layered Chocolate Motherload from Claim Jumpers as well as the Porterhouse steak Packrat had. We didn't finished the chocolate cake so it's sitting in the fridge and infusing chocolate scent into everything residing in the fridge. If I ever lived in the US, I would order that cake for someone's birthday, just for the heck of it.

There's also the effects of the breakfast at IHOP that we need to neutralise. IHOP was cheap but I think they bought salt with an expiry date so they were liberally dousing it into their food. Thankfully their pancakes were good and their butterscotch pecan maple syrup was to die for.

That is indeed a ham steak, with the bone, with hashbrown, scrambled eggs, 3 pancakes and onion rings that all belong to Packrat. So, Wholefoods is a great alternative and hopefully, tomorrow won't be so excessive. Otherwise we're going to be working out all the way to Chinese New Year. And then, there's more eating.

I feel sick.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

On the trail of Grissom, Day 3.

Walking about on the Strip, you're aware that every other tourist has a half-yard cockatil. That's a really tall drink, sometimes in the shape of the Eiffel Tower, sometimes it's in the shape of something you might use to smoke a bong out of. We thought those were tacky but Packrat saw this, a 100oz Monster Mug from Fat Tuesday, a daiquiri store and wanted it. He is after all, given to excesses. It was stunned for words...3 litres of Margerita? Or any other cocktail I wanted? I know I haven't drunk in a long time but that's a lot of making up. I had to admit, the Monster Mug was cool though.

After much back and forthing, primarily because I did not want to stagger back to our hotel and thank God I didn't because it was the day of the sandstorm, we compromised on the smaller one which still had a fun factor to it.

This one was about 1 litre. Still excessive but not as.

So he went to order while I sat back and rested from all the window shopping. I started thinking about how nice it would be to drink again after so many many months of staying dry for the sake of the kids. But he returns, looking forlorn and empty-handed. Why? I ask.

Apparently, they needed ID and apparently the Singapore driver's license is not ID enough for them. And why did they need ID? Because we needed to be over 21. I was a little bit indignant. Also because I had worked myself up into wanting the margarita. What do you mean we can't buy the drink? What do you mean the driver's license was not recognised? What do you mean we're not allowed to buy the drink? Then it dawned on me. We didn't look 21. It didn't matter that we were married and had 2 children. People here could be under 21 with 2 children and married so that didn't count.

So, even though I'm more than 10 years over the age limit, because I didn't have my passport, I couldn't buy a drink from a daiquiri store where all the cocktails were in bright slushy colours. That sucks, in a way.

Of course, I could say that, well, at least we look young enough to get carded. But damn, I wanted that drink.
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

On the trail of Grissom, Day 2.

How to dress in Las Vegas.

It's 13 degrees in Vegas. That doesn't sound so bad but see the print under the 13 degree weather forecast. BLOWING DUST.

Yes, Las Vegas is in the desert. Which means there's a lot of sand out there. But there's also a lot of wind out there because there are no trees to act as breakers. So, how to dress when the wind is blowing a lot of the sand from the desert into the Strip?

  1. Tie up hair in scrunchy because no matter how much my hair loves the dry air here, it's no point having beautiful hair get matted. And because the air is dry here, I can't really brush my hair without charging myself almost to the point that there are sparks crackling out of me.
  2. Wear flat boots. The lower your CG to the ground the better. There were times when I was clinging onto Packrat because I was about to do a Dorothy and get blown to Oz. I overheard a dad tell his daughter that he needed to tie her to a string and fly her like a kite. Sounds like a plan,
  3. Wear glasses even if not short-sighted. It keeps the grit out of your eyes even when it's turned dark and it turns dark about 5pm.
  4. Layer because it's cold when the sun isn't out but when the sun is out, it's scorching desert sun. And the casinos are all heated so de-layering is also necessary indoors. But thin Target socks aren't enough to keep my toes from getting numb at night. So maybe tights under my jeans. I'll try that tomorrow.
  5. Do not wear hats. I saw 3 hats go a flying in the wind. I also saw a pair of pants but I think it would be quite detrimental to me if I went out there without pants, with my hair tied up, 3 tops on, with flat boots and a pair of glasses on.
If only the weather looked as calm as this.

Problem is this is fake sky, indoors, in Caesars' Palace. It weirded me out for a bit, that I was indoors but the sky was so clear. I felt like I was at Hogwarts with the enchanted ceiling which depicted the sky outside.

We're headed back out again now, in more comfy shoes and a thicker jacket.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

On the trail of Grissom, Day 1.

We've arrived in Las Vegas. Finally. After 2 stopovers. If the USA wants to be superpower, it should really be closer to the rest of the world and not be 24 hours by plane away. We left the house at 5.30 am Friday morning and we checked into the hotel about 5 pm Friday afternoon local time.

This was after a harrowing Singapore to Narita connection where we were packed in like sardines with no leg room to spare and no food to munch on. Because there was no leg room, regardless of how exhausted I was, I couldn't fall asleep. So, instead, I got hungry but there wasn't anything to eat. When Packrat kindly went in search of food for me, he was told rather gruffly that cup noodles were only for business class and got sent back with his tail between his legs and a packet of crackers.

The 45 minute transit we had in Narita made us feel vaguely human again and able to face the upcoming flight. Our spirits don't take much to lift and in this case, a bowl of ramen and some yummy onigiri, Japanese rice balls, did the trick. Thankfully, the longest leg had the most empty seats which meant I could stretch out and really sleep. My bug bear with that leg was the fact that the main course was seafood curry and being one to not eat seafood, I asked for something else and I was given the option of that or grilled salmon. So, apparently, I've been categorising them wrong all my life. Grilled salmon, meat.

The worst part of the trip was the last bit. Perhaps becuase we knew it was coming to an end, we wanted it over faster. Or perhaps because of the paranoia that has become America; holding passengers up and being down right rude to them is the order of the day. Whatever it was, we thought a more than 2 hour lay over would be sufficed to actually get our bags, check it in again, get through security with a good half hour to laze around.

The reality was we streaked to the gate, boots in hand (one should travel to the US in slippers regardless of weather because of this particular law), trying to slip through before the door shut and the plane took off. And in my sis-in-law's words, LAX looked like it got trashed by Somalian pirates.

Thankfully no more flying for the next ten days. Packrat and I are just back from dinner. We haven't seen much of the strip yet because both of us are dead on our feet. Him more than I am. More tomorrow, when we actually see the real Las Vegas.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

No Tango for Mango

Even though I'm no longer the Mango fashionista I once was, I still like to go to the Mango sale and there's always a thrill about going on opening day. But it's not possible anymore. I used to queue first thing in the morning. I used to go with a fellow fashionista who would take leave from work and we'd work our way through ALL the stores in the city. But my friend has moved on to other brands and while I haven't really, I'm not really all that keen to carve out time to do it anymore. It could be due to various reasons.

  1. I no longer draw a full salary and come next year, the only salary I'm going to be drawing will be what Packrat sees fit to give me. Sigh. I am going to be a kept woman.
  2. Because I'm going to NOT need work clothes for a while and I'm going to be living in jeans, shorts and capris (Hmmm, varying lengths of pants...) I don't think it's really necessary.
  3. The quality of the clothes have deteoriated somewhat.
  4. I don't have very much wardrobe space although that might change come mid next year.
  5. I don't have time. My time goes to other more important things that don't allow me to stand in line, not doing much just so that I can spend money I don't really have for clothes I don't really need.
  6. Or maybe it's because my daughter saw it fit to take both my shoes and my money and traipse off with it.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Someone's gonna get hurt real bad

'Tis the wedding season so I've been to a wedding a week the last couple of weeks and there's something that has struck me as bizarre. In two of the weddings, the newly married couple gave thank you speeches. No surprise there. They thanked everyone from God to the little boy who probably only opened their car down with a big grin and oranges in order to get some moolah. No surprise there too. What was surprising was the reason why they thanked particular people.

Parents fall into the "Must thank" category. If they are not thanked, that would be akin to slapping them in the face and spitting on their grave. So they get thanked. And in true Singapore fashion, these couples' thank you speeches seem to follow the composition answering template that was taught to them in primary school.

Q: What fruit do you like?
A: I like apples.
Q: Why do you like apples?
A: I like apples because they are sweet and juicy.

Similarly, there were a lot of "I am thankful to my parents because..." and the reasons bordered on mundane and made me wonder if my kids would say the same thing about me years from now. There was thanking mom for making breakfast and thanking dad for sending/picking them to school/work. But there was one that did make me sit up. Thanking Dad (mostly) for disciplining them and being strict with them and caning them or making them do tons of assessment books.

It really sounded like a case of taking the whole Confucian thing a bit too far. I think our education has imbued into us that anything that disciplines us is good for us. And anything that builds character is good for us. So since discipline builds character, discipline must be good for us. But that's where it gets me. I'd be plenty ashamed if at Baby J (she won't be a baby by then...) or Evan's wedding that they stood and thanked us for disciplining them so that they grew up to become upstanding useful citizens. Discipline is very important, I agree with that. And it is part of loving our kids. I agree with that. But for it to be such a key feature of the relationship with my child such that it becomes the illustration that defines it, that's a bit too much of discipline and too little of everything else in the relationship. I don't know how the fathers felt, to be in the audience when this was announced to their 500 guests but I'd be quite ostrich like if it happened to me.

When I think back about what I'm thankful for with my Mom and Dad, I think about how my Mom would make it a point to book a holiday bungalow or chalet with us every year end vacation and we'd stay there for a week at a stretch. Our days revolved around being in the water or playing on the sand, occasionally coming up to eat. I even remember how one year, Mom booked it for the last week of the term because everything else was booked out and the thrill of going to school from the chalet was immense. It was like I had a secret and to be able to go "home" to the chalet after the school was way better than anything anyone must have had at that point. This was coupled by the fact that going to school meant playing games in school since it was after the exams. Now, that memory was something I am immensely thankful for and I look forward to being able to do the same thing for the twins.

With my Dad, he wasn't the most involved or enthused Dad around but he tried. And I remember how much he believed in my leadership abilities and how he took great offence at my not being selected to be a prefect. I'd come home crying because I found out that I hadn't been made prefect (I have no idea why it was such a big deal), not because I wasn't good enough but because my class had decided that Little Miss Good at Everything wasn't going to get away at being good at yet another thing. (The combined bitchiness of teenage girls and their elephant memories made for life in a girls school being extremely miserable for me) My Dad huffed and puffed about it and was about to march into the principal's office demanding how a girl's future (seriously?) could be determined by her impartial, immature peers and how it was obviously a flawed system. Thankfully, he heard me when I begged him not to make my life more miserable. I found out later on that he did the same thing for my brother. Dad had something about making sure that we were given the leadership opportunities we deserved and even though there wasn't direct discipline involved, it taught us another virtue, as important as discipline and that was justice and objectivity.

Oh! It just struck me that being a prefect was a big deal because my brothers had been prefects and had served on the prefectorial boards and I got a kick out of them wearing school blazers. I think that and the idea of head girls put into my head by Enid Blyton and all her school stories! But that's beside the point. My point was that those are the things I remember my parents doing for me and while they didn't directly build character like the cane would have, they made me feel loved and protected.

And in my book, growing up with a childhood memories that do not involve school work or tuition and knowing that my parents had my back are as important as being taught right from wrong. But at the same time, don't get me wrong. My parents were big on discipline. Especially Dad. His oft bellowed threat was something about turning us upside down and walloping us. So much so that I recorded it verbatim in a composition I wrote for the school news letter and the principal called me in for questioning, on whether I was really subject to such cruel and ununsual punishment that bordered on abuse.

But I don't remember the overt acts of discipline even though I know they were there and they make me part of who I am now. And I don't want my kids to remember the times that I smack/ ground/ rail at them, especially not at their weddings!

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 00:24

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"