Thursday, January 29, 2009

How to seem like you are having an affair, with your husband.

  1. Check in to a mid-price hotel.
  2. Check in, in the middle of the night.
  3. State very loudly that the room will be covered by cash.
  4. Put the Do Not Disturb signal out and not leave the room.
  5. Check out in the same clothes you checked in with.
  6. Walk in separate directions from your partner. If you can, work a kiss in.
And without a doubt, the concierge will come up to you and ask "Madam, do you need me to call you a cab?"


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:03

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Bah Humbug

There are many reasons why I couldn't and wouldn't live in China. Chief would be I don't speak the language. Another would be too many bad things happen in China. And one the I came up with the minute I woke up this first day of the Earth Ox year... Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival as they call it is 15 days there.

Every year (well it seems like every year) round about this time, I blog about how much I hate it. So why spoil the tradition?

It wasn't like this all the time. Once upon a time, I did lurve the season because it meant moolah for me. The more homes I visited with my parents, the more moolah I got. When we had to start giving out the moolah, it got more bothersome. I think it was round about that time that I started to hate it as well. Not because I had to give out red packets but because there were expectations of what we had to do and often these expectations were not what we wanted to do on our own volition.

If I had my way, I'd be on a beach right now. My unmarried brother's got it right. He's in Bali, cycling round volcanos. Catch me on New Year morning and I'd be happy to be in the volcano, rather than here. But with the twins, we have to be around. On top of that, my usually westernised, liberal husband insists that this is a tradition he enjoys keeping to and is something our children should learn is expected of them. I guess with that, they are also going to learn that crossing Mommy on the first day of the new year leads to dire dire consequences.

I don't mean to be a party pooper but in my mind, I'd be quite happy to do without the stresses of the season. But that's just me.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:54

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Of gloves, jackets and other inconsequential things.

While waiting for Obama to deliver his inaugural address, everyone we know is watching CNN the way people watch the red carpet of the Oscars. It's the political Oscars, every 4 years and this year is I guess akin to a Titanic year.

And like wannabe fashionistas feast their eyes on the gowns of the celebrities and criticize and comment on everything, we do the same thing with the politicians. This is the somewhat brainless random conversation between Tym and I on IM.

Pseudo Serious
Me: Apparently the crew of the Hudson flight was invited that is they're not busy suffering from
post traumatic stress
Tym: I was wondering if they might get a nod, esp the captain I can imagine Obama making a
phone call to commend him.
Me: Ala Jed Bartlett?

On Michelle Obama
Tym: Michelle Obama has GREEN GLOVES
I'm ... dismayed
Tym: WTF?!
Me: And her dress is a bit...
Tym: GREEN?! Maize- coloured?
Me: Scaly much?

On Dick Cheny
Tym: Why is the poor girl in white pushing the wheelchair?
No hunkier man available meh?
Me: Stupid man threw his back out moving boxes.
Oh well, gives new meaning to the term "lame duck"!

On Obama's fashion
Tym: Obama's tie is nice
Very hip
Me: Ummm... I approve.
Tym: I wonder if Obama is wearing long underwear and/or kevlar...

On the Bush Clan
Me: Bush's outer jacket is much thicker than Obama's.
Tym: Not young and vigourous like him mah.

Tym: The senior Bushes' purple scarves are quite something!
Me: So matching! Too matching.
His gloves are sticking out too 'fatly' from his pocket.

On the Presidential limousine
Me: The limos are damn ugly
Packrat (not Tym): They have to stop bullets.
Me: Kevlar is ugly.

On Invited Celebrities
Tym: John Cusack!
Me: Arnie!
Tym:Is Spielberg gay?
He likes those berets, which are kinda gay...

On some blonde kids walking out to their seats
Tym: I wonder who those little kids were
Me: Not Obama's kids
Tym: Too white. More like lost Kennedys.

On the Clintons
Me: The Clintons! He's got no gloves!
Tym: Maybe he's trying to be young and vigorous
Me: I think he looks a bit stoned.
Tym: Hee hee.. maybe he is!

Tym: Her coat makes her look fat!
Although the colour is lovely
Me: Ee yur, it's so high waisted!

Me: Don't you tell me what to do, Woman!
I've been here before.
(referring to Bill Clinton being briefed by the protocol officer)

Tym: Bill Clinton's white hair is quite nice
At least it's, uh, evenly white
Me: Yes, Snow white.
Hmmm... No Chelsea?

Tym: Ee yur, Hilary just gave Dubya a peck on the cheek!
I hope she has something to clean her lips with.

On the Marines on duty
Me: The poor Marines look frozen
Tym: It's ok. It proves the manhood.
Let me quote First Lady Santos who was like, "I have to stand there in the cold in

On the White House Movers
Me: Oooh! Shalom Movers!
Tym: Where?
Me: They only have 2 hours. I saw it on the West Wing.
Tym: Where Shalom movers?
Me: No lah! Bluff you.
Tym: Cheh! I thought Shalom was so famous!

On the Obama girls
Me and Tym synonymously: Oooh! Kidlets!
Me: Sasha's jacket is the same colour as Hilary's.
Tym: So cute
The orange is nice
Me: Sasha's very pretty
Me: She's taking photos?!
Tym: Maybe she'll upload it on FB!

Me: The girls look bored.
(During the Yoyo-Ma (Yoyoma! Channelling Donna from the West Wing) performance)
Tym: I think they are playing tiddlywinks or something.
Maybe they have Snap in their pockets.
Me: Happy Families!

On CNN's coverage
Me: Oh, stop with the cutting to the African Americans!
We know he's black!
Tym: You KNOW that's the brief the cameraman got.
Me: "Pan in on the blacks!"

I think we watch way too much West Wing.

Ok, the inaugural speech is happening and I need to listen to this. The ditz has left the building. Oh wait.


Ok, now she's left.

Re: speech- Can we all say GRAVITAS?

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 00:28

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Twas the Night before Christmas

There's something in the air tonight. Much akin to November 4th. Facebook's a buzz with most status updates to do with the Inauguration and staying up to catch the swearing in. Mine reads "Ondine is is hoping that Evan will let her watch the Inauguration". The boy has been going through a separation anxiety phase where he wakes in his cot and screeches and is hysterical until we go in and clings onto us for dear life. That means we have to lie with him till he is dead asleep before we move him back to his cot and if we do it prematurely, it will be to our own peril because we have to go back to the drawing board and start all over. So, I'm hoping he'll sleep right through and not need me to lie by him in a darkened room which will lull me to sleep and more importantly, does not have a television set with cable.

Anyway, we're all waiting and biding time in different ways and in our own ways commemorating this bit of history in the making. Packrat wanted me to take a nap so that I'd be up for the actual swearing-in. I refused because I had better things to do. Though it seemed extremely ditzy and unrelated to the inauguration, I needed to watch the last episode of Gilmore Girls. It's been 8 years in the waiting for me and the forty minutes would be just right to bide time before Obama left the White House in the motorcade.

Well, the stars were really in alignment tonight. Even though it's a ditzy mother-daughter tv series and I had absolutely no idea, six degrees of separation was in play here too. Rory in Gilmore leaves at the end of this episode/ series to be a news correspondent and where does her first assignment take her? To cover the Obama campaign. Too cool and too spooky. So she disappears off Gilmore Girls at the end of that episode and is she going to be present on our TV screens as she covers his swearing in? My head swirls in bizarro.

This was like us watching The West Wing Season 7 right up to election day and having some difficulty separating fact from fiction. Incidentally, the Inauguration episode was Tym's choice of pre-inauguration tv. It would have been our choice too but we don't have our copy with us. Anyway, I like my ditzy choice. It reflects me. Seems ditzy, seems too random and unrelated but the tenuous links do exist. Shoot me that I'm not deeper but at least I make no pretence about it and I'm proud of it.

I'm going to prove it later with my next post too. But for now, I think the swearing in's gonna start and well, Break's Over.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:36

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Sunday, January 18, 2009


Apparently, even the Chinese believe in voodoo and hexes. I was told today that someone I was very close to wasn't married because a curse had been put on him by a former girlfriend of his. It was along the lines of 'since she couldn't have him, no one could'. I wanted to laugh out loud but out of respect for this person who was suggesting it, I just nodded.

Obviously, I had to sit through and listen out for how to break it. The obvious way was to go to church and pray a counter pray for the curse to be broken. The second and more entertaining way was to buy a bunch of roses (must not be white) and run a bath and break in all the rose petals. Then get the cursed one to bathe in it. Once he has done that, to take the bath water and the rose petals and throw it out, far away.

I have images of driving a sloshing bucket of water to the ends of Singapore to dump it into the ocean. But then I also figured, I could drain it into jerry cans and seal it but there would be less authenticity. Anyway, whatever it is, it gives new meaning to throwing the baby out with the bath water.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:58

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A stitch in time

The first time I ever did any stitching was in Primary 2. My illustrious art teacher gave each of us a small piece of cloth with pattern on it and taught us to stitch according to the colour and pattern on the piece of cloth in tiny crosses. I looked forward to every art lesson because that's when we could stitch to our heart's content. My mother was impressed at the art teacher's foresightedness. Apparently cross-stitching is a good tool to use to develop both sides of the brain and this teacher did it without any flashcards or videos or expensive paraphernalia and resource.

Anyway, since I enjoyed it so much and it was good for me, my mom decided that it was going to be a great end-of-year project to keep her daughter busy and calm her down, teaching her to sit still and put her undivided attention onto one thing even if it were just for twenty minutes a day. Some days I hated it, some days I enjoyed it but I knew I had to finish it because much as I hated sitting down for a set amount of time each day and that interrupted my day of play, the thought of an unfinished piece bugged the heck out of me even more.

So I did it, every day for 6 weeks, getting it ready just in time for Mom to lay it out as one of her Christmas runners. It looks very juvenile and simple but I got a lot of needle pokes and skin shorn off from doing it. But when I got it done, the sense of achievement was remarkable though not remarkable enough for me to attempt another one till way after I graduated college.

My mother being the sentimentalist and hoarder kept my piece of embroidery and gave it to me today. Just looking at it brings back memories, although it made me wonder what I was going to do with it. Packrat suggested I stitch "Home Sweet Home" or something equally tacky in the middle but just the thought of stitching and now, with relatively newly minted eyes made me baulk and consider other things I could do with it, like perhaps frame it and put it in my children's room. But here it is, till i figure what i want to do with it, recorded for posterity.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:24

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

I don't wanna grow up...

I have a confession to make. I went to see Twilight. Before I get flayed by the mob, I need to also add, I hated it. I hated it and I felt like I had wasted two very precious hours of my life and two very precious hours of Me time. Packrat who repentantly suggested he start making up for the Boy Movies he's made me watch by watching this, also cringed. Both of us also felt that as educators (he more than I, at this point) of teens, we needed to know see what the fuss was about so that we had the credibility to mock it mercilessly and in Packrat's case, use as a yardstick to turn away students from his course. Last year, anyone who wrote his/her favourite author was Jodi Picoult was rumoured to have made only the "Maybe" pile. This year, his hit list allegedly includes Twilight author- Stephanie Meyer.

So why did we hate it? The Cliff Notes version?
1. We are not teens. And hopefully, even if we were teens, we'd have better sense than that.
2. It wasn't Buffy.

For us, Buffy had cornered the Human in love with vampire- vampire has a soul and is tortured and full of angst- Relationship is doomed from the beginning market. And Angel, Buffy's vampire squeeze was in my opinion, way cooler than Edward-peroxide-glow in the sun-I'm Vegetarian because I only drink animal blood-Cullen. But that bit is just personal opinion. There was so much wrong with Twilight that seemed to also reflect the angst of the current generation of teens. Although, the series seems to have been lauded for being relatively chaste; there is to be no sex till marriage though not for the usual reasons, it is not a great role model for teens who are not part of the A-list in school. In Buffy, Buffy was weird because she kept beating up people and she had a secret life that she couldn't tell many people about. But she had a bunch of friends, all B/C listers who got her back and she was fiercely loyal to them.

In Twilight, the protaganist, like Buffy was the new girl in town, is a little bit the awkward, clumsy n00b who arrives in the middle of term but is pretty well liked for a n00b. She has herself a Scooby gang fast enough but she drops them like a hot brick the minute Perioxide Boy gives her time of day. Not cool. How can dumping your friends to move up the social ladder with your A-list boyfriend ever be a cool thing to do? Where's the loyalty? Where's the heart?

And mothers who condone their daughters reading the book because there's no real sex and drugs, shouldn't they be concerned with the fact that this was a protaganist who didn't mind being bit and dying? And once again, with vampires and those who yearn to be vampires, there was always a reason for it, there was always some sort of discontentment with life, some sort of malaise that they felt being a vampire would cure. But where was that here? The girl had a suicide wish for no reason. The only reason was possibly because it was glam. So, shouldn't moms be concerned about that? Shouldn't moms be concerned with any sort of death wish however it is to be carried out and for whatever reason?

On top of that, this is a girl in an obviously abusive relationship. Guy treats her like crap, drives her away, hurts her in the process and she comes crawling back to him, telling anyone who listens that it was she who drove him to insanity and it was his love that drove him to that point. Yes, that is healthy, to think that relationships are supposed to be that way and making it a selfless thing. In an era where so much has been done and achieved in the name of empowering women and teaching girls that it is not cool and they don't have to take shit from guys, here comes a movie and an entire fad that reverses all that has been done. And I hear, that in later books, she wants to be bit. She wants to live forever so that she can be with Glow Boy forever and ever, beyond the usual death do us part. If my daughter thought that way, it would time to take out my Dad's patented brand of punishment- hanging one upside down and walloping sense into the person.

Salon's mocking take on it made my day as much as reading I don't know where about how rabid fans had swarmed the local high school of Forks and stalked their Sheriff annoyed the heck out of me. And all in all, it made me compare it to the movie that has been known the mother of time suckage - Titanic and has made Titanic come out looking like Oscar material (although I think it was in its day but we rolled our eyes then at it).

It made me go out and borrow Titanic, not so that I could waste another 3 hours of my life but so that I could revel in what was the Queen of chick flicks of my generation and come up with reasons why it still trumped Twilight. And after 3 hours, even though I walked away at certain bits because cheese is still cheese 12 years on, I was vindicated. My generation had comparatively better taste. It's not saying much but it's still saying a lot. At least Titanic was epic. It had James Cameron at its helm and there was great tragedy- always a good setting for a romance. There was little tragedy in Twilight unless you count a storm and a baseball game. The protagnist, played by the very British Kate Winslet, was really a strong independent woman who took no kind of crap, didn't give up for love, stood by her beliefs and didn't let her lover's death (or his dead state) be a reason to be dead herself.

And for those who didn't want to bother about the romance, Titanic also made one think, however superficially about class and rank, about social injustice and about well, in my case, post traumatic stress disorder. What food for thought did Twilight even pretend to give its fans? The possible class war was never explored, the possible misunderstood plight of the vampires was murky and hidden under the glamour of it all, the angst of the teen years giving reason for self-mutilation and suicide was also given a cool factor. So, really, just a pretty movie that led Packrat to remark, " All those broody goth boys are going to get lucky this year".


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 18:03

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Monday, January 12, 2009

One Eyed Dragon's Change of Heart

Convicted murderer on death row donates his organs to ailing patient in need of an organ.

News headline or plot for pseudo pop intellectual book?

Or both.

Very bizarre. That life imitates art. Or rather literature. Or rather, bad literature passing off as book with food for thought.

Maybe it is required reading for all death row prisoners. Maybe it's in the New Releases section of the Prison Library.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 18:29

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Thursday, January 08, 2009


For the first time in more than 15 years, I have bangs. I never grew them out in school because of the rule where our fringe was not supposed to touch our eyebrow. Then I started dancing and bunning it all back was the way to go- try pirouetting with hair getting into your eyes. So my fringe has for as long as I can remember, been as long as the rest of my hair. It dragged my hair down and my hair was as limp as a dead french fry. And today, I decided it was enough.

But now, I'm not sure. Maybe I shouldn't have listened to my hairdresser when he suggested the fringe which was apparently all the rage in Japan (he was there over Christmas), though I can't blame the guy who's had banal, unoriginal instructions like "don't cut too much of my hair because I need to bun it" during my ballet days and more recently impossible ones like "make my hair look fuller" despite the post natal hormones causing me to do a Yul Brynner. Anyway, I let him have his way and give me a fringe and Packrat keeps calling me cute. I am not pleased. I was ok with something different but I really wasn't going for cute.

And now I worry, will I get breakouts on my forehead? What will happen when it grows over my eyes? Do I pin it, flop it, wax it or cut it? Will my kids freak out? I'm still freaking out a little bit but Packrat reminds me that it'll grow back. I guess so, but till then, I'll look like a 16 year old mushroom head.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:39

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Russian Supermarkets

One thing we never worried about when we lived in Melbourne was when to do grocery shopping. The Safeway 2 minutes up the street from us was open 24 hours a day and only closed on Good Friday and Christmas. This was great for us students because we had weird shopping habits that usually revolved around when we finished our term papers. Before that, we usually subsisted on a constant supply of instant noodles, potato chips and for Packrat, Jolt Cola (the choice Cola for hackers and twice the amount of sugar and caffeine as regular colas). It was also therapeutic to shop in the middle of the night because we could roam the aisles while the men in black (the packers wore black all the time) re-stacked the shelves and the aisles feel even wider than they are.

Now, fast forward to now, in Singapore. There are a few 24 hour supermarkets now. One in Holland Village, a Cold Storage, where we used to live and now another one near us, an NTUC which is the locals' supermarket. We usually like the Cold Storage one but it's much more expensive than NTUC so NTUC ends up being where we reluctantly shop but shop out of necessity. So last night, after the kids got to bed, we went grocery shopping and since it was late, we went to the 24 hour NTUC.

But seriously, it shouldn't call itself a 24 hour supermarket. We needed to get vegetable and fruit for the kids, primarily. But when we got there, it was like a scene out of one of those news reels about markets in the former communist Russia where the shelves were empty but the market was full of people. Seriously. No fresh food. No more veg, barely any fruit, just rows and rows of empty shelves and baskets. Packrat and I stood and stared slack-jawed in amazement and not good amazement. How can they call themselves a 24 hour supermarket if all the food's sold out in the first 12 hours of the day? Well, yes, there were still dried goods and all but darn it, I wanted my fruit and vegetables.

So all we managed to pick up was half a pumpkin, the least sad ears of corn and 2 pears. I think we even bought like we were Russian peasants and like I'm sure the Russian peasants were, we were extremely disgruntled. If we had pitch forks, we'd revolt. And the irony is NTUC is a Union owned supermarket and is supposed to be for the people and by the people.

So much for that.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:10

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Ring

I think my television is possessed. Or spooked. Or haunted. Well, something unnatural. Thankfully, I'm discovering it in broad daylight. Had I discovered it last night when everyone else was asleep, I would have had a major wig out.

It comes on, on its own volition. And there's nothing on. It's just a snowy sandy screen. And it scrolls through all the channels on its own. The remote has no power over it. Pressing all the buttons, in all sorts of combinations made nothing happen except the channels to scroll even quicker. Switching it off at the television itself was no good either because it'd just hop back on and start off where it left off.

At that point, I decided to cut it off at the source. The main power. I'd decided if it could resurrect itself from there, I was going to take the kids and skedaddle outta there because that would just be messing with my mind a little bit too much. Thankfully it didn't manage to switch itself back on.

So, what was it?
  1. Was it possessed? And if so, possessed by what?
  2. Was the electromagnetic wave from my phone triggering it? (Coincidentally, the first and second time it came back on, there was a text message on my phone and I realised the tv just as I opened the messages)
  3. Was there a secret remote somewhere and one of the kids was activating it from their cot or downstairs or where ever it was?
  4. Was Packrat trying to make me think I was going crazy so that he could get me committed?
  5. Was it psychically connected to someone and every time that person blinked, the television came on? Like Phoebe in Friends could do?

    [Cut to Chandler and Joey’s, Joey and Phoebe are watching TV. The TV is turning off and on, and each time Phoebe is blinking her eyes like the Genie did. The switch obviously controls the outlet which the TV is plugged into.]

    Phoebe: See? I’m doing it. I am totally doing it. (Suddenly it stops working.) I lost it.
    The One with the Rugby Game
  6. Were there aliens trying to send messages through the black and white snow that I wasn't seeing and needed Jeff Goldblum's character in ID4 to decipher it?

  7. And if they were, were they trying to send messages to us or to each other to coordinate Armageddon on earth?
Thankfully, it was much simpler. I still don't know the cause of it but when we jiggled the power cable round a little bit, all normality was restored. And more importantly, I wasn't being haunted by Casper who wanted me out of the house and I wasn't going crazy.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 12:12

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Clean white shoes

Last night would have been a crazy night. There would have been last minute dashes to the book stores and shoe stores, rooms were probably tossed upside down looking for stuff that probably has a thin sheen of dust over it from not having been used for the last couple of weeks. Barbers and hair dressers would have also had last minute crowds. Maps were consulted. Driving routes plotted to avoid traffic build ups. Bed times shifted to unearthily early. All in a bid to get everyone ready for the new year. But not the new year as in the New Year, but the new year as in the New School Year.

And I would have been part of it and I would have been extremely grouchy and grumpy yesterday if not for two reasons. One short term, that the new JC calendar causes colleges to start a bit later. And one longer term; for those who haven't picked up the hints that have been dropped on this and the other blog, I'm taking something of a sabbatical for a couple of months because it's just been too hard to juggle kids, working at the frenetic pace that is demanded and that I expect of myself (being a high achiever and a mother are two goals that are hard to gel).

So, the bad mood was dodged temporarily for Packrat and slightly longer for me but not for other people. All over, there's quiet today in the malls and this afternoon, the influx of kids into the malls were kids in uniforms, clean, pressed, white and crisp. Shoes too, were in mint condition though I was a little bit surprised that white shoes weren't from Bata but Adidas and Converse. But the true madness isn't usually with the kids anyway. It is usually the parents, who are over anxious or had spent the entire vacation not anxious enough and spent yesterday and this morning making up for it.

Parents take leave on the first day of school because no one knows what could happen. There's good sense and then there's over-protective sense. There were reports of parents who absolutely had to make sure that their precious darlings were dropped right at the school gates because the audacity to think that they should walk even those few marshalled steps from designated drop offs to the gates! Add to that, parents who don't have enough foresight to get their kids to sleep early enough so that they are awake early enough to get to school before the crowds do. So, the result? Long queues and clogged up bus lanes outside the school. And all easy prey for the Traffic Police who were just laying in wait for these perpertrators who knowingly flout traffic rules.

But of course, it's not the parents' fault. It's the fault of the jagged yellow lines and the fault of the Traffic Police and the fault of the school. Just like everything that happens in school to their kids from tardiness, to messiness to absent-mindedness. I find it telling that so much effort is taken to get the kids to the school and that's where it ends. It doesn't matter what happens within the compound, it's not their responsibility as long as the kids appear home at the stipulated time. Never mind where they've been, whether they've been at Mcdonalds or the snooker parlour. Ok, I'm generalising here but it just seems like a lot of parents get stressed getting their kids into the right schools, fuss about getting them to school with the best materials, shoes included and leave the rest up to the school and the teachers. And I think, that, is the larger reason why I'm relieved and thankful and not in a foul mood today, because I don't have to deal with what my job means to others and what other parents expect of me in my capacity as a teacher.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 14:48

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"