Mum lights her aromatherapy burner, which fills the room with an overpowering smell of mozzie-repelling citronella.
Except it doesn't smell like citronella, but like rotten pineapple.
After the lights are off, she says, “Tell me a story.”
“Once upon a time there was a sick pineapple which vomited inside a room,” I began. “There was a poor little family of mosquitoes living in a pile of laundry in the room but the smell was intolerable. The father mosquito said to his wife, Darling, we have to move house immediately or our kids will all grow up retarded.”
Mum felt my hair and made a lot of noise about it still being wet. Me: My brain is working in overdrive so I need to cool it down. Mum: Sssssss sssssssss sssssssss Me: What are you doing? Mum: I'm using qigong to dry your hair.
Mum pets my head and holds it tight. “This is how you choose fruit like durian.” She pulls me close and inhales deeply in my hair. “Watermelon also”. She continues petting my head.
The hours I spent at work before departure were really fraught with the greatest stress - I was in an absolute frenzy, trying to get out the ACP+ paper, the DPM speech outline, the ACP+ updates to the slides. I cleared my desk at 7pm, locked my laptop into the dock, and sent off the update to W that very nicely highlighted a whole table of pending tasks, next actions and deadlines. I thought I was being a very guai and accountable staff, but on hindsight, it might have seemed a bit like the teacher setting a list of homework before the holidays (oops?) The "follow-ups" column was a list of to-dos for W. And I may have idiot-proofed things a little too much for him. I thought to leave my filing cabinet key, so I left him a note on patterned paper, saying "here is the key to the filing cabinet for palliative files", I labelled the key with the same patterned paper, saying "palliative files", and lastly, the cabinet itself got the same treatment - a little label saying "cabinet for palliative files".
I left my handphone at work last night. I was rushing off to calligraphy class. Happily, my morning alarms are recurrent and don't require any action on my part to set them - which means that this morning, when half my office was already at work, the first of my morning wake-up alarms would have gone off... and then the automatic snooze would trigger, so that it would repeat 5 minutes later... and the same would happen over and over again for the seven alarms I set in a row.
I tell you, I really kena expose in front of my colleagues already.
Yesterday afternoon, when I went to donate blood during my lunch break, Uncle A dropped me a text to say that he had something "wallet-sized" to pass to me. I asked, but he ignored my question on what it was. Yee and Uncle A drove over to HSA to pick me up, and uncle A, in the front passenger seat, turned around and flattened this invoice slip on the side of the drivers' chair. He said. "These are the passport numbers for Yee Yee and myself, so that you can help us check in."
Did I tell you, Uncle A can be paranoid? Well, things are about to get certifiable here...
"Hahahaha oh my god, you didn't want to get your passport numbers saved in our phones is it??? Must I burn the paper afterwards later also?" I snigger at my own wit.
"Hahaha or even better still, next time we should encode it in cipher! Then only we have the key! Hahaha!!!"
Uncle A starts to go off the rails.
"This girl! We should ADOPT HER!!!! See, she knows exactly what we're talking about! I didn't know you know what a cipher is. Okay, let me show you. For every number on this paper, you have to-"
He pauses, catches my eye, then slowly traces his finger on the back of the driver's seat cushion to form the characters "-1". He looks back at me again, points at one of the numbers (the number 1) on the invoice slip and asks, "So what should this number be?" "Er... zero...." I say. "Er... Yee... he's not serious right? He's not, right?"
My aunt silently affirms that he is, indeed, being serious.
I retell this hilarious story to mother and brother when I get home. We laugh and laugh and laugh.
When it comes down to it, I really am quite conflicted about the idea of leaving my current job. Because in many ways I feel like I am doing work of genuine worth... When I argue for the need to hunt down an alternative funding source to support a niche programme that will help just a hundred children with terminal illnesses, or even something as simple as trying to help a hospice justify their need for a larger viewing room, in which families can spend some time with the bodies of their loved ones before they are taken away - I know that I have done something that another in my position may not have put in the effort to understand, and help with, let alone take through the inevitable months needed for a conclusion. Very easily, these things could simply have been ignored or shut down, since the easiest route is always to take the mainstream position, that NEVER accounts for things that can't simply be expressed in numbers, or settled with a reference to a clear position already taken on a similar issue, and neatly archived somewhere with a file number.
It helps that the people I work with, despite their positions as number-ones and number-twos in their organisations, are some of the best people I have ever encountered, and they don't hold back on their gratitude, or in acknowledging the efforts of even House Elf-like creatures as me. Once, when I shared a bit of happy news with a medical director, she actually screamed and grabbed me in an almost-violent two-armed hug (just imagine the reaction from awkward penguin me!!) leaving me quite sheepish but determined to always think of the people whose lives are affected by the paper arguments I craft and the stacks of numbers I burn on my Excel spreadsheets.
When I first joined, I was brought out as a benchwarmer on a stream of meetings related to the portfolio I was taking up, where I demonstrated my general uselessness to great effect. One and half years later, a grey-haired doctor who was present at one of the first meetings (and noted my uncredited appearance as the Great Wild-Eyed Shivering Lump), said something that was probably meant to commend my progress to my boss, but just made me quiver in humiliated remembrance of my early days. But I really appreciated the sincerity and the very paternal sentiment that brought it about.
But to stay in the service, for me, is to always be a piece of plankton adrift in a massive ecosystem, buffeted by waves set off by passing sperm whales and other sea creatures, always trying to ride on existing currents to take a course I think is right, but acknowledging that I can never presume to set my own course. What do I know of the practice of this medical sub-specialty I am somehow in charge of? I can only consult the leaders of the field, facilitate and record their discussions, work through their recommendations - and then pass them through my own management, who may not have the clinical expertise, but are still my superiors in administrative experience.
In what I do, there is always the need to balance trade-offs, to hold to certain principles, to be able to justify and defend every action... I can always see the logic in the decisions that are eventually made, and I can trace my finger down every step of the thinking process and agree with them, point by point, but somehow, things can sometimes arrive at a conclusion that feels so wrong to me. Often I just scream at my inability to express what I'm so viscerally sure is the right thing to do, but then I realise that my only argument is "human decency" - and what kind of crap, irresponsible argument is that?
What I can try to do is first define the "decent" end-point I intuitively leap on, and work backward to find a rational argument based on numbers, evidence-based practice etc. that gets me there... I manage to do it some of the time, and conceding on all those other occasions always makes me feel completely incompetent, and that I've disappointed the VWOs, the patients, families, the clinicians who come lobbying for help. Somehow - even though I've supposedly already shown through reasoned analysis why a certain course of action should be taken, and can't get it to behave any other way, I still feel ashamed at the "answer" that appears at the end. This part of work is certainly painful.
Li Ting and Alan's new baby is the CUTEST thing that I have EVER had the pleasure to make the acquaintance of. He's a little baby just heavy enough to have a pleasing baby-ish weight when you lift him under his arms and bounce him around on your knee and he just SMILES and SMILES with this gummy, guileless grin regardless of whether you know what the heck you're doing or not.
After dinner and when we were just hanging out at the sofas outside the Tung Lok restaurant, Shu Shu passed him over to me and asked me to entertain him (ALONE!!!!) while he made a run for the toilet.
I was stunned!! and bewildered!! but terribly terribly pleased at the task and so I picked him up around his fat round chest and under his plump little arms and he GRINNED AT ME and I was an absolute GONER.
I mean I had NO IDEA what I was doing but his little trusting soul was perfectly at ease in the hands of this clumsy not-so-pretty aunty with the big red asymmetrical face (for my left cheek was still obviously swollen from a horrible dual wisdom tooth extraction) and the stupid smile which was basically body language for I-don't-know-what-the-hell-I'm-doing.
So I lift him up gingerly and place his legs horizontally across my lap, with my hands still firmly fastened under his arms and getting warmer and moister by the second (sweaty palms!! the nerves!!) and he turns his head to beam at daddy on my right and a 180 degrees back to peer at my brother on my left.
I say to his daddy, "I have no idea what to do with him," and daddy replies congenially and in a relaxed tone that is infinitely comforting to me, "Oh, do whatever you want, and if he cries, just pass him back." (of course, definitely not his exact words, and very far from the actual content, I'm sure, but that's what I made of it)
My brother laughs and says we have the best job of it, we get to see baby at his best.
Yes! I completely was! I picked up baby and turned him around again, letting him straddle my thigh, and wobble him gently from side to side, just for lack of anything entertaining to do, and make small talk of inferior quality, e.g. "Hello, please don't cry at me, I really won't know what to do, just smile, ok, smile like that, yay cute baby, look left look right I don't know what you're doing ohhhh there's grandpa go back to grandpa ok"
But I managed to spend quite some time with him and I am SO happy for that.
He had small, bright, black eyes and a curious wide, pillowy head that's completely flat at the back, to the despair of Shen Shen, who regaled all with stories of his perfectly-shaped head at the time of his birth, then what did he do but SLEEP and SLEEP all day and see what he did!!! Made his head FLAT because of his love of sleep! Aiyoh!! A shake of the head and a heavy, heavy sigh.
Charlotte too was adorable - and especially so because of the stories her adoring mother told of how loving and protective she was of her little brother. Never, her mother said, ever let her catch you joking that you want to take little brother home with you - for you will immediately become her enemy! She will watch you like a hawk the rest of the evening, and make sure Mummy remembers to take him back from you at the end of the night! What a sweetie.
She was showing Jiu Jiu, perched with both chubby, entighted legs sticking out from the side of his chair, how she played her beloved penguin game on Mummy's iPhone, and would chuckle loudly whenever the penguin skidded off its icy path, to tumble into the waters, or collided with a huge wooden pillar. After noticing that I was watching them from the side for a very long while (somehow, the monotonous adventures of a speeding penguin became quite interesting when the captain steering the phone was a little toddler), she generously passed the phone over to me and watched me as I steered the penguin into his quickest demise yet. After a few excessively quick deaths (for the game was honestly a tiresome and not-very-interesting one), I told Charlotte (not Shallot, as a misguided Ah Pek and papa like to call her on their first attempts) that she was so much better at the game, and she had better take it back.
Oh yes, Li Ting was also telling us that despite her best efforts at telling Charlotte how she ought to be interested in pretty things, Charlotte persists in claiming that she is a dinosaur (and rejecting suggestions of "princess"), and in saying that girls should like blue, while boys like pink. At the end of the night she was running in circles on the carpeted floor outside the restaurant, and hopping/galloping (my brother asked if she was doing it Gangnam style, but apparently she was imitating a kangaroo).
And that's the end of the baby tales.
Oh I ought to log my first meeting with Hui's baby too - an encounter of an other-worldly nature, which brought to mind hands placed on an ouija board hoping to commune with invisible spirits. But least to say, foetus-baby kicked A LOT for me!! Very enthusiastically and regularly too!!
Hui was in a thin black summer dress that made her look slim and decidedly un-pregnant, and we went upstairs to talk and she reclined back on a beanbag chair and allowed me to place a hand on her belly, where she told me to talk naturally and con baby into thinking it was nighttime and mummy was in bed, which was the time when he/she was usually the most active.
And the con worked like a charm!! There was a pattern of little thumps that seemed like inverse drum beats, muffled but VERY decidedly there, coming from the other side of belly-drum, and it was SO SO exciting. I could really feel a little being in there trying to communicate with me. I really, really can't wait to see the little baby and pick it up and feel his heavy weight and look him or her in his little face and watch him look right into my eyes!!!!!!! Aaaah baby-fever!!!!!! I wish I could fly right over to England when the baby pops out and be one of the first to look at him and love him.
I can't even describe how excited I was to see Hui's huuge belly, it was SO WEIRD to see someone you've known for so long going through something so incredibly life-changing, and to be in a teeny tiny way A PART OF IT, wow that was just so so so incredibly cool. Really like communing with extra-terrestrial life-forms liddat, because I know I won't be seeing her again till baby's a separate entity, and right now I'm getting to know Pre-Baby!!!! When he's out in the world I can pick up his little hand (or leg, as it may be), and know that this was the very same little body that I'd interacted with even before he was out of mummy. HAHAHAHAHA. I CAN'T WAIT seriously. Can't wait till Hui comes back to Singapore with baby!!!!! Shall go look up names of Taiwanese stars now for Chinese name inspiration.
[EDIT 6.45am: Whatsapp from Hui: It's a BOY!!!! am thinking of making them a customised babygro - "copyright Hui and Mark 2012" or something like that)
I was teaching Rachel and Nichole prepositions today. One of the apparently it was a conjunction[/edit] was “than”, as in, when you compare something with another. I asked them to make a sentence using “than”.
Nichole: My cousin is taller than me. Rachel: I am prettier than my cousin. Me: Rachel!!!! So shameless!!!! Rachel: Ok I change. [pause] Rachel: I am prettier than my friend.
HAHAHAHAHHAA. But! There is a story.
Rachel: You know I went to my friend’s birthday party then we all took a picture. Then my friend’s brother looked at the photo and he said, “That girl is so pretty.”
Pause for effect.
Rachel: And you know who that girl is? ME.
She looked very satisfied with herself.
Rachel: And then my friend said, He loooooooves you! But I said, No lah.
Still looking verrrry satisfied.
Well, doesn’t that girl know how to tell it! Good girl.
yesterday, I started tuition with Rachel again! her mother contacted me while I was still in Korea, and asked if I could make a 3-4 year commitment. that would be until Rachel reaches Sec 1 - I really, really can't imagine her a teenager...!! I still think of her as that gap-toothed, hyperactive little girl and it was quite a shock to see her all long and beansprouty and sporting a cute fringe and a full set of teeth.
we're doing a group tuition this time. Rachel's mother has a friend with a daughter the same age, but she feels the fees are high, so I'll be teaching both girls together. Rachel answered the door, called for her mummy, who then called out Nichole's mummy... who did not at all look like the mother of a nine-year-old. she's quite pretty in that exotic asian way, with good skin, short hair, single-lidded eyes, and thick black eyeliner. she looks like a poly student. she looks like she freaking gave birth when she was twelve!!!!!!
anyway. we sat on the floor, at a low table, and I got to know Nichole better. you know the way parents love to assume that any small children of the same age, regardless of any proof to the contrary, are good friends? yup. Rachel doesn't seem to like Nichole that much. but I think that's more due to the fact that they haven't had much time around each other so far, and the adults have happily arranged for them to be in prolonged close proximity. (I know the feeling.) and I got my burrrrrning curiosity about Nichole's mother's age satisfied part-way: Nichole's mummy was actually Rachel's mummy's student!! Rachel's mummy is a science teacher, by the way, but there's no way for me to ask further about what grade she teaches and all that without being completely nosey. (dammit.)
I'm so grateful for Rachel's mummy, she really is the ideal student's parent. she pays me good money. she prepares ALL the materials for lessons - she's drawn up detailed lesson plans for the first half of the year, and photocopied all the resources I need. she consults me on what I think is best for Rachel, and actually follows my advice. she tells me that she doesn't care about grades, that she just wants to build the children's foundation in English.
she sent me, early this morning, an SMS of such epic length that my LG phone hangs for a bit before it appears on the display. it was like my very first Teachers' Day card...
(...) Looking back, at rachel, she picks up answering compre fr u. I seriously do not know how she learnt fr u cos eng is so diff fr science, but she likes eng lesson, enjoys reading, once she starts writing she goes on n on, bec of u! Remember that she couldn't read well, lazy to read, no interest in reading, poor writing with few basic words. I m thankful for u! U make it fun, u help us to get started on reading by suggesting ways to get her to read n read with her, u make writing easy n encouraging for her by giving her freeplay and interesting stuff. U bought her stickers but she likes ur drawings n letters even more which she kept the, but bec so disorganised that they become so dirty that I think I may have threw away (...)
I feel like an important phase of my life is over. it's been more than a month since I returned from Korea, and about half a year since I turned twenty-one.
the separate blog I kept for my Korea entries, of which there are about... three... is at - quinoxaline. it's pretty hard to maintain a blog consistently when you're already narrating your experiences via Skype, and MSN, and captions on Facebook albums. after the first re-telling even the most exciting story gets a bit old in your head.
it seems like all the people I met in Korea, Singaporean or not, remain far away in Korea in this large memory-bubble I've anchored to the country to prevent it from leaking into Normal Life in Singapore. I saw those people practically everyday and we got on so well, but I took a plane back, school started, I've got a full schedule and my old set of friends and suddenly they're not in my life by default anymore.
once people are no longer around "by default", it can be quite hard to hold onto those relationships. you have to make an effort to keep each other relevant... when you're transplanted from the environment in which you first knew each other, you've to reorientate yourselves and figure out what kind of role you're going to have in each other's lives from then on. when we change schools, when friends go overseas, when you stop working someplace, or simply when the semester ends... it's so easy to just let go of the people, who once made your day.
i was thinking of setting up a seperate blog for my SEP in korea.
qing's exchange in korea?
(what it looks like outside at 5am)
i walked from orchard rd to clarke quay this evening in pursuit of the legendary liang court taiyaki. braved the heavy rain that started when i passed the MICA building. but found out that the taiyaki stall is no longer there. at least the walk there was beautiful...
had my last lesson with rachel on thursday; her mother's signed her up with a reading class that her younger sister's also attending. I'm going to miss the little girl. :( she behaved really well on thursday, though I don't think her mother told her it's the last time she's seeing me.
teaching a kid is so different from teaching an older student. when I was teaching rachel what "scrambled" means a few weeks ago, she flopped onto the floor and started wriggling and shrieking... "I'm an egg!!! and my mother's frying me!!!"
then she rolled onto her other side, stuck her butt into the air, and went, "and now she's frying the other side!!!!"
there is a little sister, who's three. for some reason she wandered into the room (on thursday) and rachel went over to pick her up. her thin arms strained with the weight before she clasped the baby to herself. "did you see? she closed the door by herself!" then she pressed a big kiss to her sister's forehead.
I met another little girl over the last weekend. I was told that she didn't speak, not until she trusted you, and she certainly didn't even want to look at me when I first met her. she kept her hands on her bag and quickly looked away whenever I spoke to her, making inane comments about the henna design on her hand, just rambling away out of nervousness at the response I was not getting.
so I turned instead to the other girl sitting beside her, who replied my questions with a great sunny smile. over the next couple of days, I just couldn't help realising that there was something so infinitely precious and special about the friendship between those two---the happy little girl would keep coming over to us, and it was only when she, and only she, was around that my little girl would smile (would even laugh!) and utter maybe a word or two. at other times, she refused to speak, refused to make eye contact, with her face utterly impassive.
we just sat next to each other, while everyone else chatted away with their new friends, and I just looked at the way the planes of her cheeks melted into her neck, how her pink glasses perched on a small, blunt nose, wondering what to say, whether it was even possible to make conversation with someone like her. later on, I realised it wasn't. but she managed to talk, in other ways.
I trailed her for the rest of the day, talking at her, being an altogether one-sided sort of friendly. occasionally the happy girl would come over and make a rather interesting conversation with my girl---one that didn't seem to require much actual conversing, but made both very happy nonetheless. the happy girl would prod my girl's nose, and my girl would whuff as she nudged the hand away. the happy girl happily told everyone, "so cute!" and did it again. and again. and again. when they weren't in sight of one another, one would call "mama" and the other, respond with "quack"---like their own version of the "marco polo" game. my girl didn't speak, but she said "thank you" whenever the happy girl told her to.
I can't really say what happened later, but the nth time I said her name in a funny voice, or sang a nonsense song, she finally did smile.
the second day of camp, I know she had fun. everyone was wonderful, looking out for us. when we played captain's ball, some of the volunteers tried to catch the ball for their buddies if they weren't able. towards the end of the game, I passed my girl the ball again, and everyone called for her to throw it to the captain. she didn't understand, and like before, just tossed it away. the ball came back. "throw it to the captain!!" a few yelled. she did, and missed. and the ball came back again. everyone was crowded around her at that point, and when she threw it for the last time, everyone just watched as the captain stretched out and caught it. we all cheered. after the game, I asked her if she had fun, and she gave a very definite nod.
the last day of camp, I slept in a little bit. everyone in the classroom were already rolling up their sleeping bags. I turned on my side, and saw my little girl watching me. she smiled, reached out her hand, and stroked my arm.
after breakfast, the happy girl pointed to something, and my girl suddenly looked excited. "my mother", she said. I looked, and saw her parents standing a way off, beaming at her. I shouldn't have been, but I was a little surprised by how normal they looked. I really shouldn't have been surprised. I suppose it's natural to expect a child to look somehow similar to the parents, but of course her face wouldn't reflect anything of her parents'. I found that a little sad.
her parents came over to shake my hand, and I hugged my little girl again. I felt like I was kind of cheating her of something. she'd opened up to me, given me her trust, and I feel like during those three days I'd been given something like happy-girl status in her eyes. she'd smiled for me, said thank-you for me, and reached out to me of her own initiative. and now she wouldn't see me again.
I suppose that's something she's learning from the camp. to open up to strangers, even if she's met them for a very short time... not all relationships in her life have to endure for them to be meaningful. I wonder how her parents try to teach her things like that.
you can learn so much from camps like these. of course the other volunteers are all good people. the term's so cold, but some of the young people there are so "high-functioning" that you wonder what they're doing in a special school. and you'll get a little bit of insight into the lives of children like my little girl, who might be considered young adults instead, if genetics had been kinder to them.
I started tutoring a little six year old girl today - my fourth student. she lives just a couple of blocks away. next week, we're going to do a tour of the neighbourhood to practice her oral skills. :)
got a new phone delivered yesterday!! like an old lady who quietly passes away the night before she's to move to the old folks' home, my elderly Samsung died before her replacement arrived.
I've got to do my next assignment on Adobe Illustrator for my visualcomms module. I'm so so so so fervently praying that the software won't crash my computer. since they're already so shitty to begin with, I wonder just how much more my drawing skills will suck when I start work on Illustrator.
(will find out at least a day later, after the 1 bloody gig file finishes downloading)
I really like my job. thanks liling :) as a (part-time) research assistant, I get to travel around to different schools and interview students. on my first day, I had a little *thrill* when I stood in front of a class of 40 students in teacher-ly clothes, and felt like I'd kind of fulfilled the teaching dream I'd had in primary school.
it's like wanting to be a pilot when you were little, and one day, sitting in the cockpit of a plane. it's no longer your dream, and you're not quite flying the plane, but still, it does mean something. :)
in one school, I noticed that all the girls in my class were wearing pigtails. and not just pigtails. two pigtails each. it was the cutest thing. I thought it was a class spirit thing (who knows?), but then I noticed the girls running in the corridors outside, and the floor below, and the floor below that, and they all had their hair in two braids! I really felt like patting their heads. so cute. turns out it's a school rule.
my mum's coming back this saturday! yay :) I better find some time to do a major cleaning. and maybe I should do something about the plants. like buying new ones. new undead ones. was thinking of cooking something nice to show how my cooking skills have made staggering improvements (from naught to not-naught) but might not have time because of tuition, and the award ceremony for the bursary thing! never mind, got other opportunities to show off :D
oh thought of another thing that makes me happy. the little brother of one of my students likes me!! (I dunno why the hell, though) he's three years old and talks at the top of his voice in this hoarse shout, in the way that little ones do. he insisted on staying in the room with us last week and had to be carried out, bawling, by his mum. then his sister locked the door. haha.
after lesson ends he runs up to me and shows me his shirt (oh, what a nice shirt!) and an assortment of toys (oh, what nice toys!) or tells me about school (oh, what - er, what did he say? and his sister translates his three-year-old's speech. haha).
sure, he's no kid michael jackson but he's got that jason mraz-y swing, doesn't he? you can tell he's really enjoying himself, which is what makes it so fun!
oh my god I totally cracked up when he did the AHHHHHH~!!!!!
I love it when little kids show so much spunk :D
and speaking of little kids... I went to pick up the mail before heading upstairs earlier, and saw next door's grandfather and baby hanging out around the letterboxes.
have I ever mentioned the little guy before? he's only the handsomest baby ever, like all half-angmoh kids. (why are all mixed kids so exceptionally pretty? is that a genetic hint from Mother Nature or something, to encourage us to mix-n-match?)
when we first moved in , he was a little big-eyed thing in a pram. a few months ago, he was watching me clean my bike, clutching onto the metal bars of his gate. his grandfather was encouraging him to say "jiejie" but he was too shy.
a few minutes after his grandfather wandered back inside, he suddenly burst out, "jiejie!" and ran back in.
isn't he darling????
so anyway, back to the mailboxes. today, he said hello after grandfather prompted him. and after I collected my letters, he said byebye without being asked to! :)
(he's about  eleven months [/edit], I think, for those of you who actually care about this sort of thing)
oh, you have to watch this as well...!
Charlie's face...!! I can see that expression on the face of a sixty-year-old British beer guzzler whose football team just lost a match. and that grin after Harry started sobbing a little was pure evil.
it's just averagely funny actually. until Charlie started SNIGGERING and I was like OH MY GOD THIS IS LIKE ME AND MY BROTHER AGAIN!
(when I was that age, I was also fat and bald and not very affectionate. and I scratched my brother a lot, because HE was the affectionate one and couldn't keep his hands off me. still can't, actually, which is why some scars are more recent than others.)
my ah ma has been staying with us for the past few days (since her knee operation) and the place is a lot noisier with her around. assorted grand-aunties and uncles have been dropping in daily to see her. and she likes to call up my grandfather and yell at him. we were making peanut cookies earlier and she was criticising my peanut cookies, saying that they weren't round/spherical enough. so I made a pancake burger and poked holes in it. (contrariness runs in the family.) she said that if I didn't make them properly she'd go to bed right now. I said okay! and tomorrow you'll wake up to find that ALL the cookies are in weird shapes. so she stayed. and I made some cubes and a snowman as well. :)
best thing is, my mum's been cooking especially good food now that ah ma's around, so we had beef and pork sukiyaki on sunday and assorted good stuff since. and shabu-shabu is planned!!
I volunteered for project RICE on saturday with the ydc peeps. we knocked on every door in a random Tampines housing estate and asked for rice donations, in what has to be the weirdest donation drive ever. can you just imagine the potential for contamination!? you will not believe how many households have weevils in their rice. and while extremely unlikely, there is still a huge possibility that some random nutso added poisonous extras into the bag without anyone realising. it's not like they screen the rice before distributing it.
did anyone see the slogan for the project? "more than a cup". they had it on all the tees, across the front. hahaha. I felt like such a liar wearing that shirt. XD (if you don't get it, can't help you there..........)
aaaaah. CNY is favourite time of the year. :) I hope ah ma shares some of the pineapple tarts from 6th grand-uncle, because those are freaking solid pineapple tarts worth their weight in body fats.
I've done up the house for the occasion (photos will be released only after the CNY reunion dinner is held here XD) and used up my mother's entire angpow stash. so I plundered my grandmother's very historical stockpile as well. I think I better remove some of the stuff I put up, though, it's verging on overkill.
and I got another cheongsam!! :) :) I wonder where I can get one of those cheena painted paper fans, just for kicks. one of my dreams is that when I'm rich, I'll get a different cheongsam to wear on every one of the fifteen days of CNY. :D (but for now, I'll just get a new one every year.)
she was visiting ah ma again, and we were sitting at the dining table sharing dessert when my yee yee said to my mother: I think your daughter and I share many traits. I said: huh? she said: what traits do you think we share? I thought for a moment and said: cuteness, intelligence, beauty, charm, charisma. she thought for a moment and said: well I can't dispute that. we laughed. I said: that's another thing we have in common huh. (the usual ironic response would be "humility, eh?", with a smirk, but I say, "accurate self reflection". kekeke.)
my brother was being such an idiotic idiot just now, he kept patting my head and singing me lullabies (!!!).
brother: twinkle twinkle little star! me: shaddup, get lost! brother: why, your gege can't even say goodnight to you issit? (pat pat) me: yeah, can. goodnight. now get lost.
what the hell is there to do at three thirty in the morning???? what?? what I ask you????
was watching The Little Nyonya earlier with my ah ma, mother, yee yee and cousin. you know, the "one in four people watch The Little Nyonya" is probably an understatement in my social network. I think the show's half crap, (as compared to the whole 100% crap of say, the Ch8 local drama that was showing before the HK Ten Brothers crap), but well, despite the rather shocking busload of one-dimensional characters, I do really want to know what happens to Yue "wo bu ke yi ren ming" Niang in the end.
but if it was, you know, MY story, it would definitely go a very (VERY) different way.
Ch8 will probably tell it like this:
yuzhu wilts away like the holy shu nu that she is and dies in a tragic and touching manner. meiyu becomes a nun. zhenzhu remains an evil scheming bitch all her life. chen xi and yueniang remain star-crossed lovers through the ages until the very last ten minutes of the final episode, where a grey-haired yueniang clasps a geriatric chen xi (returned from wherever the hell he's going to go in the next few episodes) to her droopy bosom, assuring him that she's kept herself a virginal little nyonya for him all these years. and a stunningly cunning twist is revealed! anqi is not yueniang's granddaughter (because, obviously, the whole virgin thing would mean that she cannot do whatever it takes to beget a child), but a descendant of yuzhu's rape-child! behold the hereditary mole below her lower lip!
and further, incontrovertible proof that anqi is not of yueniang's powerful line: her character's not acted by jeanette aw!!!
THE REASONS BEHIND THE MYSTERIES OF THE LITTLE NYONYA, as told by qing:
wonder how little yueniang got to her ma ma's house in malacca so quickly, after burying her parents in singapore? she secretly apparated there. but since she was born to a family of traditional peranakan muggles, she had to ignore her Hogwarts letter and hide her true abilities, and never ever experience the wizarding world. 'tis the sad, miserable life of a brave little nyonya!
ever wonder why all the young women in yueniang's direct ancestry look like jeanette aw and all the old women look like xiang yun? it's all because of the Way of the Nyonya. tianlan, the Great Grandmama and Source of the Whole Recurring Xiang Yun Look, discovered the Jiu Ying Zhen Jing that yang guo (who was actually a baba) hid away five centuries ago, and mastered this voodoo trick where all her direct descendants would be clones of her, and spread the love of kueh kueh and wonderfully beaded shoes to the populace over the ages.
why are charlie zhang and robert zhang so irredeemably, one-dimensionally, evil-villainly bad? because they're Death Eaters. 'nuff said.
what today's episode would have been like if I was scriptwriter yuzhu would have just stabbed her scissors into robert. repeatedly. with great relish. and after making sure he was well and truly dead, stolen all his money, burned down his mansion and travelled the world with a dinky little suitcase packed with kueh kueh and wonderfully beaded shoes (just because she didn't inherit the powerful voodooed genes of tianlan, doesn't mean she can't pick up some tricks along the way).
what the entire series would have been like if I was scriptwriter when the main family was in england, tianlan took over the house and ruled as Empress, creating little battalions of jeanette-aw-lookalikes with random hot babas and making tons and tons of money. when her hubby finally returned, she and her jeanette-aw-lookalike children and grandchildren defeat the main family in an epic battle featuring meat cleavers, jewelled hairpins and heavy wooden clogs. zhenzhu is taken hostage, where she is later sold to be liu yidao's wife (and surprisingly, falls in love with him and becomes his right hand man in his pig-execution enterprise). yuzhu is well-liked by the Empress tianlan, and is bestowed with one chest of priceless embroidered kebayas and allowed to seek her fortunes in neighbouring unexplored territories. (and because I like joanne peh, I will also allow her to set up her own joanne-peh nyonya clan with the secrets from tianlan's voodoo manual)
and since I like a nice un-angsty romance, yueniang marries chen xi after beating off the multitudes of identical aunties and cousins (aka voodooed tianlan spawn) also vying for his affections.
chen sheng (pierre png, since no one can ever remember his character's name) marries all the leftover spawn and lives a blissful life pretending they're juxiang.
and there aren't any characters left of consequence, since all the irritating ones like darren lim and gang were collateral damage in the epic battle earlier.
I forgot about the chen family's granny, the one with the weird penchant for and emotional attachment to some kueh kueh I forget the name of. well, she's kinda cute, so I'll give her one tianlan spawn to make that special kueh kueh for her everyday, until she dies of diabetes at the ripe old age of eighty-eight.
quite sad right, at this kind of time you can only do some solitary activity, usually involving the computer. so no life.
haha. yes. anyway. I was reading my old lj entries (there are freaking multitudes!!!) and I realised that I have very funny friends. the comments made me laugh to death (which is even sadder, considering the solitary loneliness of sitting in front of an inanimate object, in a deathly silent house, and laughing to yourself).
I abandoned my blog for a while because I naively believed my journal to be read by only, say, 5 people (wow why am I doing this? I am portraying myself as such a sad, sad person.) and yet weird things kept happening like my uncle suddenly telling me that he'd seen a picture on my blog and mysteriously turning deaf when I asked him how he'd come across it... and eleven complete strangers commenting on a one-line blog post about my IQ score... (ha! that makes me sound fantastically intelligent. actually, though, I just commented that an online test placed my IQ at 131, saying that I doubted its reliability. and a dozen people went "omg you are right! thanks for telling me the truth! they said my IQ was 131 too!")... a random dhs senior chiding me for deriding the tj uniform...
(actually it wasn't because of all that. but let's just pretend it was.)
well basically you see that I have no issues with that now. byebye private thoughts, hello frivolous postings. *waves at imaginary audience, yes all you friends/ ex-classmates/ family members/ ex-schoolmates/ acquaintances/ accidental visitors*
mingming gorgor invited xiaoru and me to a Christmas party in the evening. hahaa was very reluctant at first (ahh!! people!! strangers!! run awayyyy!) but since xiaoru said she'd go with me, I thought, ah what the heck. hahah. and it was fun! lots of very nice people. and oh I felt this was important enough to record.
a few of them said that I looked like xiaohui! wow! I feel like I belong!
hahah you probably didn't get that. they're all my cousins. mingming is the old-man cousin (the eldest at thirty), xiaohui is his younger sister, and xiaoru is a year younger than me (and my gambling kaki during CNY). my friends are always telling me that I bear NO RESEMBLANCE WHATSOEVER to my parents and brother (yes beautiful mother mr gorgeous brother I-used-to-have-two-million-girlfriends father I GET YOUR POINT) so I was feeling quite marginalised. *sniff* so it's nice to know that there's still some Family Resemblance somewhere along the family tree. :)
I signed myself up for a five-day camp that begins this coming thursday. it's hosted by the Red Cross - the youth donor club training camp. usually I'm so shy but occasionally I do something so damn brazen I surprise myself. it's just those little moments of sudden courage. hahahh. all my friends claim to be needle-phobics or are too skinny to donate, so I'll just have to brave this one out on my own...
I'm trying to fill up my calendar with little activities and meet-ups with people I haven't seen for a while... (angela, long-time friend and penpal from primary one... yong ernn, father's friend's daughter whom I haven't seen since primary five...) I'm so happy that my holiday has magically extended itself by one week! thank goodness I clarified that with Deborah just now, else I might be wandering around school on the 5th, like an utter goondu. as for stuff to do: I've adopted the Southern Ridges as my very own personal failsafe Activity: "haiyah dunno where to go or what to do, Singapore so sian" "ooo have you been to the Southern Ridges? I'll bring you :)" ta-dah got thing to do liao!
aaaaanyway, does anyone want to go for the OCBC cycling event in Feb? it's a little pricey ($26 if you have an OCBC card and register before the 18th, otherwise, $32 (before 18/12) and $48 (after 18/12)) but I love the idea of being able to cycle down Nicoll Highway. :) it's just so... YOU THINK YOUR GRANDFATHER ROAD AH. haha. YES.
Books to read, once I can get my hands on them: 1) Austenland by Shannon Hale 2) Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke 3) Something by Neil Gaiman (no, it's not his newest book.)
It's been ages since I read a real book, but I can't go to a library yet because of my cough.
Speaking of which. I had a major fever on Monday night, which was so terrible that I couldn't sleep, started crying and actually had fears of developing meningitis and dying. My last paper was on Tuesday and genius me had decided to hug Buddha's feet that night, so I hadn't even begun studying. My temperature reached 38.4deg and held; I was freezing the first half of the night and burning up the second, and I just couldn't get to sleep.
About 3am-ish I got out of bed to check online if there were any make-ups for the finals. (there weren't)
About 4am-ish I got out again to cry into the sink and cool my face and palms in water. Thankfully my brother was awake; he went to a 7-11 and bought me some Panadol and a box of those Japanese gel forehead patches. Crawled into bed and tried to read my notes. Didn't feel up to it but still couldn't sleep either.
About 5am-ish I felt so terrible that I thought I would miss the last paper and retake the module the next semester. Started crying again.
Just lay in bed till 6ish, when the sun came out and I decided that fever or no, I wasn't going to retake the bloody module, and studied till 8am.
So anyway, I did my Singapore Society paper with a fever, so I don't give a flying shit if I get a B or C for it, it's a far sight better than an absent anyway. And if I do somehow, somehow get an A, I'm a fecking genius.
[Later edit: A-. WOOHOO. Self-five!]
Oh, and I really don't trust TCM doctors much. Their medicine tastes like absolute shit (never tasted shit before but I've an excellent imagination) and must be eaten in torturously copious amounts. The doctor kept scribbling on her paper and correction-taping it off moments afterwards, and even changed her prescription ("oh good point", correction-tape correction-tape) after I asked her if there would be separate meds for my fever and throat. (!!!)
I'm getting really, really bored at home.
Had a little relief going to Liling's thoroughly fengshui-ed house for a sleepover on Thursday. (Unfortunately the auspicious aura of the house didn't do much to help my cough but then again, I'm not one of the residents)
Cape No. 7 was surprisingly good! I needed Liling for extensive help with the Chinese subs but it was excellent, nevertheless. So was The Nanny Diaries, which, thankfully, deviated from the novel for a touchingly sweet ending.
The decorations at my neighbourhood "mall" (two rows of facing shops tucked under HDB blocks) are stunning - a huge vertical curtain of blue and white fairy lights suspended across the space between the two HDB blocks.
I think it's saying something when the decorations in an HDB neighbourhood are actually better than those along Orchard Road.