Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A new appreciation

Since I've gotten pregnant, I've been telling moms I know how I have a new appreciation for them. The best response I've gotten so far is that that appreciation will only grow! While I always knew that being a mom or even just a parent is one of the toughest calling in life, it's only now that I see how much a mother sacrifices for her child. Presently the sacrifices I've had to deal with are physical and financial ones but as soon as the little one arrives, more will be due!

It WAS also often easy to criticize another person's parenting/mothering style but now that I'm preparing to be a parent I find myself anxious about what kind of a mother I would be. Then there is the concern if baby would be healthy and normal... If I'd have enough milk to nurse him...If he'd turn out to be one of those rascals we see screaming in shopping malls... While I know that these fears and concerns are normal and expected, they are presently very real. I guess you mothers out there would in turn respond that this is only the beginning. And I know that you are right!

Have a happy new year! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Coolest boss in town!

Sometime back before I got pregnant I blogged about companies which allow moms to bring their babies to work.

At that time, I thought the idea was fascinating but may be too revolutionary for many organizations (actually I still think so). However, at 5-month pregnant and desperate for childcare options when I return to work after my maternity leave, I proposed the idea to my boss. Without much hesitation, he said yes! This is great as I will get to get my work done while having my little gem next to me in the office. As the office staff is few (five of us), we've always operated like a family. So, with the introduction of the little one, everyone has already offered to chip in to help! Now this is what I call a pro-family, pro-life, pro-children organization!

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's human!

Husband and I just returned from our routine visit to the gynecologist. We received good report about the baby who is presently 17 weeks and 4 days old. It's fascinating how technology enables us to see so clearly what's in my womb. We could see his beating heart, his spinal cord, his legs and arms, clearly formed digits (fingers) on his hands, his genitals and etc.

The profile of his face was so clear on the sonogram printout that we could make out his cute little nose and mouth. We gasped in awe as we exclaimed - "It's human! He's a human person!"

Of course, for weeks now we've been monitoring his growth on the sonogram and even from the first few weeks, he was obviously a distinct human being. Though he's somehow attached to my body and is dependent upon me to grow at this point in time, he is nonetheless not part of my body, nor part of me in the same way as my kidneys or heart.

Laws in Singapore (where we're residing presently) allows abortion on demand up till the 24th week of pregnancy. That is, a woman can walk up to a clinic and have the life of the 6-month old child inside her terminated - no questions asked. Apparently this is what they call pro-choice (?) where a woman has a choice to do whatever she wants with her life and her body. Now, I have no problem with that definition of pro-choice BUT my problem arises from the fact that the 6-month old unborn inside her is NOT part of her body! It clearly has a life of its own - his own blood circulatory system complete with a beating heart, his own mind (the sight of my son kicking his legs and appearing like he's cycling an invisible bicycle inside my womb was enough to convince me that I have no control whatsoever over his actions!). Hence, extracting the fetus out of one's womb is not the same as removing one's kidney.

My pregnancy is, contrary to what every other mother tells me, becoming increasingly difficult. There are days when I can hardly function at all on normal activities. Clearly the growing entity inside my body is the cause of much of my physical and mental stress. However, I also realize that I can't simply decide to do what's best for me alone. First, another life is dependent on me. Second, regardless of how inconvenient or difficult it may be for me, I can't resort to removing the source of my suffering as we're not talking about a cancerous kidney here but about another human life. And, another human's life, I have no right to take.

With the advancement in prenatal scanning technology, it is becoming more obvious that no matter how we want to justify the termination of pregnancy, abortion is ultimately the taking of an innocent life. In some contexts, we call this kind of act, murder.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Not mere rhetoric

(Image credit: McCainBlogette.com)
The American Presidential race just got more interesting with the naming of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate. From the little reported in the media about this scarcely known Governor of Alaska I was impressed. But today, after digging further into what she's about, I find myself very excited about this VP nominee who is barely a few years older than I am.

What's there to not like about her? She's a full-time working mom (read: she identifies with most of our struggles and guilt!); she carried her Down Syndrome fifth child to term (read: she's not just pro-life in rhetoric but for real!); she has a son who's deployed to Iraq soon (read: she feels along with the tens of thousands of parents who have their children in Iraq); and she has a teenage daughter who's pregnant (read: she knows how challenging it is to be parents to teenagers AND she's not perfect - like most of us!).

In addition, her position on most issues is similar to mine - read here. She's also, according to Jennifer Roback Morse: "a post-feminist, professional woman. She doesn't so much reject Establishment Feminism: she just ignores it. She has a collaborative relationship with her husband, not, as far as I can tell, an adversarial or competitive relationship with him. He is not an obstacle to her life goals: he is a help and support to them."

I truly hope she will succeed in her race and continue to be an inspiration to women all around the world!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Those good ol' tv days...

A news report caught my attention recently - they are bringing back the popular educational 70's tv show, The Electric Company. When I heard that, husband and I immediately went into our reminiscent mode - who could forget that scream: "Hey, you guys!!!" How fun it was! I remember always looking forward to the show. I also recall how I learned proper pronunciation and new words on the show.

Then, there was 3-2-1 Contact - an educational science show. I can still remember the intro song vividly. I wonder if they'll bring this back, too.

Of course, who could forget the Big Blue Marble - by the producer who went on to make my other favorite tv show as an adult, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Husband, however, does not recall ever seeing this show...hmmm... Anyhow, I remember how I found a penpal through this program when I was in fourth grade. Ahh... gone are the good, old decent days of tv!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Prenatal challenges

It has been almost 3 months since I last made an entry. During this time, I made an important update to this blog - under my profile, I changed, "aspiring mom" to "expecting mom." Yes! On June 16, after a week-long overseas trip, I came home to a positive home pregnancy test! "Yay! We did it!" my husband and I exclaimed.

When we first told friends that we would like to have a baby next year, they told us that we need to be realistic and give ourselves at least 6 months before we conceive (considering my age and all). So, we calculated backwards - 9 months of pregnancy and around the time next year we see ourselves with a baby... so, we should start trying June 2008. And we did - round about end of May (what's a few days, we thought). Well, guess what? We hit the Jackpot the first time! Actually, we have God to thank as we know that this was only possible as the little one is a gift from him. Random selection of the Darwin kind would have proven this to be impossible considering the odds we're facing.

Anyhoo... I am, as of today, 11 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Here's what it has been so far:

  1. No morning sickness!!!
  2. Reasonably good appetite
  3. Wonderful, understanding boss and colleagues who insist that I slack
  4. Even more amazingly accommodating husband
  1. Nothing in my closet fits anymore!!!
  2. Have to eat small meals all day through
  3. Having to sleep with body propped up to ease indigestion
  4. Battling self-induced insecurities about self-identity and accomplishment at work

Monday, May 12, 2008

Of iPods and airports

I'm on the road again - this time for a week. Unlike my last few trips to India, I have come equipped. My typical trip to India involves visits to a few cities and that means hours and hours of transit at various bleak Indian airports (the worst I've been so far has been Kolkata's).

Before, I would while away my hours by reading. But sometimes after a bumpy and winding 4-hour car ride, I am just too tired to read. C'mon, the lady just wants to vege!

Recollection of such distressing moments at airports compelled me to buy an iPod a few weeks ago. After all, isn't getting a MacBook the first step towards Apple addiction?
(Pix courtesy of http://wanderingdanny.com/hong-kong/markets-museums-temple.html)

With a whopping 80 Gb of space, I could have seasons and seasons of my favorite tv shows on it - 30 Rock, CSI, Will&Grace, etc. Last evening, while waiting for my connecting flight in New Delhi, I saw five episodes of CSI!!!

As resistant as I am to the impact of technology on our lives and relationships, I wonder how I have managed without my gadgets. Alas, I think I may have arrived at the dark side...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

McGriddle has arrived!

One of the things I most looked forward to on our annual trip to the USA is breakfast at Mickey D's. While we would normally not eat at McDonald's unless we are starving and there's nothing else available, I was introduced to its breakfast McGriddle a few years ago when I worked as a secret shopper and had to rate the fastfood chain's service.
It was love at first bite - the Sausage McGriddle. What's there not to love? Sausage: checked; pancake: checked; maple syrup: checked. Packing all my faves into a sandwich was a brilliant idea.

However, when we moved to Singapore, we realized that the McGriddle hasn't gotten this far yet. So, breakfast at Mickey D's was only an annual indulgence for the past three years - until today! While watching tv last night, we came across the "new" McGriddle commercial. I almost screamed in excitement! So, this morning we made our way to the nearest McDonald's and ordered our first McGriddle breakfast in Singapore. Hmmm... yummy.

We all know that global food chains typically make contextual adjustments to their products according to local tastes and preferences. Here's what we think Mickey D's did to the breakfast sandwich in Singapore: the pancake part of the sandwich is not as sweet as in the US, there's probably less maple syrup in the pancake (I remember that in the US, the maple syrup would be dripping out as I bite into the sandwich) and finally, I think they use less or none butter in the sandwich.

Husband and I suspect that they make the sandwich overall less sweet here as Asians typically have a lower tolerance for sweetness.

We observed a similar phenomenon when we were in Jakarta, Indonesia last weekend. Our local friend told us that the Indonesian-bred donut chain, J. Co. is doing better than Krispy Kreme as the latter's donuts are sweeter. Interesting... For us, we were just pleased to treat ourselves to some Krispy Kreme donuts as we reminisce our So. Cal. days!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

G spotted

One of the perks of my work is that I get to stay at pretty decent hotels when I travel. Some of the really nice ones I've stayed at in the last few years include The Broadmoor (Colorado Springs), St Regis (Dana Point, CA.), Ritz-Carlton San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Hilton Los Cabos (Mexico).These are hotels that we would never be able to afford on our own but a real treat when we get to check-in on company expense.

While I've enjoyed all these hotels, I encountered one I really adore this week when I traveled to Penang in Malaysia. G Hotel really impressed me with its generosity with space in its decor of the lobby. I love the modern contemporary design of its decor - very simple lines but yet not stark. The lobby furniture was very voguish and the overall color scheme very apropos. I also love the idea of having music piped right out to its entrance - so, as soon as you get off the cab, you are greeted by hip, rhythmic music ala Incognito inviting you to move to its relaxing beat. Though we stayed there only for a night, I was thoroughly won over by its unique concept. So, if you're ever in Penang and you're a sucker for style and design, I'd recommend the G Hotel. (By the way, they cheekily named one of the F&B outlets, G Spot!)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thinning out

The last two days saw us cracking our heads (mostly me, really) trying to figure out how to fit all our stuff into our tiny new place. We dropped by the new place to do some measuring so that we can plan our furniture and move. What we saw depressed me. Though it was not the first time we'd seen the place but seeing it again reminds me of our imminent squeeze into a smaller space and the colossal task of moving.

We've been combing through the Ikea catalog (and the stores) and various local mom-and-pop furniture stores plus keeping ourselves posted on what's available on craigslist. Unlike most small-spaced apartments I've looked to for decor inspiration on apartment therapy, our new place has no closet or hidden storage space. My biggest challenge is finding a way to store my 20 pairs of shoes and 20 handbags...

Well, the solution is really obvious to all except to my tendency to deny: throw or give away as many as possible and only keep the ones I really like AND do use. Easier said than done BUT I am learning!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Turning 40 and looking forward to it!

A friend told me two days ago about another who's going through a tough time presently. I asked why. Well, apparently she's overwhelmed at work and she's also depressed as she'll be turning 40. The insensitive me exclaimed, "Why???" (But really, need I ask?)

This friend, I found out, is taking stock of her life - wondering if she's achieved anything worthy thus far, and also fears that she may start looking "old." I recall having similar feelings when I turned 30 but very soon after that I discovered how much I loved being in my thirties! I moved overseas the first time (to Turkey to be precise) and have since not lived in my home country. I got my graduate degree when I was 34 and got married when I was 35. Being in the thirties rocked!

As I stand at the door ushering in another decade of my life (I turn 40 in December), I am excited - at what surprises the 40's would hold for me and at all the possibilities and opportunities that beckon.

Last week I had the pleasure (and honor!) to have tea with a few ladies - one in her early 40's, three in their 50's and another in her 60's. I experienced so much joy (fun would be understating the exhilaration I felt!) with my new friends - they were probably the most lively, fulfilled bunch I've ever been with in a long time! They were gorgeous - both in body and soul, they were successful and most importantly, they weren't just concerned about menopause or how to spend their retirement fund. They were such inspiring individuals! One of them, a widow for over a decade and have two young adult sons, have recently gotten back to college for a degree in counseling and psychotherapy. There's nothing stopping these amazing ladies!

So, downhill after 40? No way! It's just a transition to another wonderful phase of our life. Believe it, as it's true!

p.s. I can't wait till December when I officially join this league of extraordinary ladies!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Will call you back after I change the diapers."

Over lunch with a psychologist friend today, we lament about how parents, more so mothers, are not spending enough time with their children - especially during those crucial first years when intimacy between parent and child develops, and how such arrangements can adversely affect the child's values, behavior and attitude.

In a city like Singapore where the cost of living is constantly on an escalating high, are working moms really left with no other options than to leave the caring of their children to domestic helpers and daycare centers? Is the future really this bleak?

This is a crucial question for me now that husband and I are ready to consider kids (before my body gets too old for such tasks!) This evening, I came across a news article about how a US company is so mommy-friendly that it allows new moms to bring their babies to work until they get to a certain age. Now that is an intriguing idea! Nursing your baby at work!

However, I do wonder how many large companies would make such an allowance for their staff. Especially here where daycare and domestic help are readily and cheaply available, why should new parents burden themselves with their baby at work? And, why should the employer put up with wails, stinky diapers and the embarrassment of a male boss walking into a new mom nursing?

Due to the nature of my work, I would certainly not mind having my baby with me at work for its first six months. The question then is whether my employer would consent to such a progressive idea. Hmm...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Political wives

A few weeks ago we saw the shameless confession of Eliot Spitzer (ex-Governor of NY) of his prostitute-hopping hobby. Then barely days into his office, the new Governor of the state of NY announced that he's had numerous affairs in the past, including one with a woman who's in his office now!

Now, the fact that these men have cheated on their wives is, unfortunately, not THAT shocking. What's more mind-boggling is that every time these men confess their infidelity, they have their wives with them (as if the presence of their wife would enhance the credibility of their repentance which in turn would save their character a little!). As I read the various accounts of such confessions, I cannot help but imagine what I would do if my husband had to make a similar public announcement. I also cannot help but conclude that one would have to drag me by my hair, dead, for me to even consent to such a sad and shameful affair. As if it's not hurtful and devastating enough to have your man cheat on you, now you have to stand by him and aid him in asking the public's forgiveness??? Unbelievable. Are these women for real and think that they are expected of such disgraceful tasks as a wife? Political wife or not, I am not sure if any woman should ever subject herself to such a humiliating role of a co-confessor of a lying adulterer.

Hence, Maggie Gallagher accounts my exact sentiments when she appeals to all cheating public-figure husbands to stop torturing their wives by making them appear empathetic as they list their illicit sexual encounters to the world.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Old friends on Facebook

While I have always associated internet-networking sites like Friendster, MySpace and the like with young teenagers posting their babble and shameless pixs of themselves online, I changed my mind recently about a site that works on a similar principle - Facebook. When I was first "invited" by a friend to join the online network, I was skeptical but decided to take the plunge after I discovered that a good number of my more sensible friends are on it, too. (And no, this is NOT a paid or sponsored posting by Facebook in case you're wondering.)

After joining the network late last year, I have found old, old friends that I would otherwise not know where to look. As I've lived on several continents in the last 15 years, my friends are spread across the globe. Again, Facebook has been wonderful to connect me with friends all over. Friends from church when I was a barely a teenager came a knocking on my Facebook door asking if I were the I'Ching they knew way back when. Today, a couple we know who are not quite the computer savvy type, added me to their friends list. How cool is that! Such applications of technology has definitely enhanced the possibilities of our social life.

However, are such platforms really helping us connect better as gregarious creatures? Have our relationships improved with the advent of such messengers? I'm not sure they have. We may think that we are connecting better but what we are doing better is just the technique - the substance of our relationships has not gotten better, I believe. While one can send hugs over Facebook, nothing will ever take the place of a real hug - the warmth, the touc
h and the smell of a real person. Communicating in short text sentences will never ease the pain of a broken heart as powerfully as crying to a friend over a cup of tea.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Alone time

Husband started his Thursday evening lectures two weeks ago. This means, every Thursday evening for the next three months, while husband is hard at work (and when I'm not traveling for work myself!) I get a few hours of alone time when I can do what I've been wanting/needing to do like, re-potting the overgrown plant on our balcony, check out the latest collection at Muji, etc., without having to worry about ideas for dinner or about whether husband is waiting for me to watch the next episode of 30 Rock on dvd.

I look forward to this evening which includes some form of the following: window shopping at Daiso ("everything $2 shop") at Vivo City, More magazine, Cantonese CSI-like serial on dvd, moving-countdown checklist and planning for my "private project."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Movies to look out for...

While I love John Irving as a writer, I'm not sure if I agree with some of his views about life. For example, the movie "The Cider House Rules" was made based on his book of the same title. The basic premise of the book/movie is on the work (and the good) of an abortionist - basically an effort to appeal to your emotions and sympathy towards women who are pregnant from rape and incestuous sexual abuse. While I have deep hatred for any form of sexual evil, I am also wary of any attempt to supposedly set things right that would involve the termination of another life. As Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek Enterprise once said, "No being is so important that it can usurp the rights of another.

Anyhow, movie makers in Hollywood have for a long time now been more sympathetic towards the Pro-choice movement. However, lately, there seems to be a shift in their view of the life of the unborn. So, here's a list of movies I'm looking forward to spending my evenings watching...1) Bella (http://www.apple.com/trailers/independent/bella/), 2) Noelle (http://www.noellethemovie.com/),
3) Juno
(http://www.apple.com/trailers/fox_searchlight/juno/) and (this is an older one which I've seen - a bit raunchy but very funny!)
4) Knocked Up

So, let's pop the corn!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Trend guru, Faith Popcorn, predicted that this year it's cooler not to spend. Excess is out - excess spending, excess stuff, excess clamoring for recognized brands and labels - all out! As economies gradually slow down in reaction to the US market, I think that this is more of a necessity than a fad! Coincidentally, buying less is the motto that I've adopted as a new year resolution (again, out of need rather than choice!).

However, I'm not complaining at all. In fact, I think this restraint has been very good for our growth. Limiting the number of times we eat out has been beneficial for our health (we tend to eat healthily at home - salads, sandwiches) and as well as wealth - time wise. Eating at home saves us traveling time to and fro eatery and the wasted time we would undoubtedly spend window-shopping when we are out. Not eating out as often also helps us to appreciate more the times when we do.

This simple-living principle has also extended to how we approach things that are quasi-broken. Two evenings ago, our reading lamp which I like alot broke. Well, it didn't quite break enough for us to trash it (its base broke but otherwise functioning as it should as a lamp). So, I thought of a way to salvage it. I found that I've an extra vase and some smooth stones that have fallen out of favor. So, the result is wht you see in the pix below. What do you think?
Oh, sorry if I'm still in home decor mood but when we were in Ikea, we came across this lovely way to decorate with fabric - gave me ideas on how to use those sheer saris I have tonnes of!

Monday, March 3, 2008

I need more space!!!

It's 90 days and counting down to our move. As we would be working with a much smaller space, we've been cracking our heads trying to figure out where to store what, which pieces of furniture from our current apartment should we bring along with us, where we could and should station our work area (we need a larger home office as both husband and I work from home a lot) where to place our tv, etc.

As we would be downsizing from a 1,500 sq. ft. double-story 3-bedroom apartment to a 2-bedroom 850 one, it's been challenging trying to fit in everything we deem necessary. We did have a breakthrough this evening - we managed to make some decisions with regards to the guestroom. As we often have friends and family members visiting, a guest bedroom is essential. Presently, we have the luxury of keeping one room as the guest room and another the media/book/tv room. However, this will not be the case by June. We'll have to work our books, tv and media into our guest bedroom. The major progress this evening was deciding how we would position all the elements in the second bedroom.

Meanwhile, I've started taking pictures of our current home to document the our apartment-heydays in this global city.

Friday, February 29, 2008

"I shop, therefore I am!"

Husband and I received a postcard invitation from Ikea in the mail last week to their sale preview. Preview for exclusive customers (read: customers who've spent way too much at Ikea) starts at 8am and the sale will be opened to the public by 10am. While we're never those who'd drive to Best Buy on Black Friday to get 50% off last season's camera when we lived in the United States, we decided that since we would need new furniture when we move to our new apartment in May, we might as well check out the deals.

So, unlike most days when it would be impossible to get me out of bed anytime before 7:30 am, today we got up promptly 7, got dressed, made coffee and quickly downed a cup before taking two buses and a train to Ikea's annual sale. In fact, I've never seen husband so keen about a shopping trip before!

Oh, by the way, as we were waiting for our train, I kept asking myself if I would be able to live with lack of sleep in view of our baby plans...

Anyhow, we were surprised that there was no line outside the mall waiting to get in. Typically, Singaporeans would take the day off work just to cash in on some supposedly good deals. We arrived around 8:30am, looked around, found that none we wanted were on sale, and we were out of there by 9:15. So much for the gung- ho-ness! I should have known as, in the past, I never find what I want to be on sale at Ikea as the items coveted are typically new arrivals.

Now, this is not a commentary on how bad the sale at Ikea is (in fact, prices at Ikea, as you all know, are unbeatable for their design and quality) but on how much good advertising influences our behavior despite the fact that our experience tells us otherwise. So much of what drives the retail economy of Singapore is pure marketing ingenuity - convincing us that our wants are really our needs and creating new needs that we never knew we had! Is this a bad thing, though? Is succumbing to our wants always bad? What kind of effect would it have our soul?

Ahh...a question to ponder over the weekend...

Monday, February 18, 2008


It was a trendy Coach hobo - in a nice tan shade. She was pretty, too, and stylish. It would have been a perfect combo - except that she's not holding her purse - her boyfriend, or husband was the one who had the expensive Coach hobo slung on his shoulder. My eyes made a quick check to see if she has a lot of shopping bags in her hands - which may explain why she needed her man to carry her purse for her. But no! Her hands were free but other-half is styling her handbag! Hmmm...
This is not the first time I cringe at such a sight. Increasingly, I see men carrying their lady's purse. Now, lady, why would you want to bring along a purse if you're not planning to hold on to it. Escapes me... And, men, you look a tat too comfortable and attached to your lady's purse!

On the other end of the spectrum, I have to beg my husband to hang on to my purse for even a few seconds as I need to attend to something else urgently with both hands. And when he has to hold on to my handbag when I visit the loo, he makes sure that it is evident to all that he is not relishing the experience of slinging on to my hobo by holding it as far away from his body as possible in the most awkward way - "Ok - I get the message, give me back my purse!"

Am I being a conservative here with regards to the expression/appearance of masculinity and femininity or is there really a new trend brewing: http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/the-purse-tokyos-manly-must-have

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Scaling down is hard to do

It was a decision most difficult for us to make but we have decided on an apartment that is half the size of where we are now. With the real estate market here still going strong, it does not look like we'd be able to get anything close to what we have now anytime soon.

It has been reported that moving is one of the most stressful events in one's life - and I believe it. When we moved to Singapore from the US three years ago, I lost tonnes of hair during those few months from stress! Now that my hair is finally growing back, we've to move again!

We need to move out of our apartment by the end of May but we really have to start packing now, in view of the amount of stuff we have. Times like these, we find ourselves asking, "Why did I get this leather jacket again?" when we come across our leather jackets all moldy from the lack of use and humidity here in tropical Singapore. Or, "What was I thinking???" as I'm rediscover my 3-inch stiletto black heels which I've only attempted to wear once - three years ago! You'd also hear me say to my husband caustically as I find his uncanny CD collection, "If only I knew you like this kind of music when we were dating!!!"

Anyhow, as a staunch believer in checklists, I revel in the fact that life-savers such as the Real Simple magazine exists. Their website offers tonnes of FREE checklists and resources. I've also been able to find exciting decor inspiration for small spaces from sites like www.apartmenttherapy.com. Finally, I'm able to put some of my design ideas for those fabric and saris that I lugged back from Madras, India to real use...yay!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Knock-off identity

Husband and I have just returned from a week-long visit at my parents. Other than receiving the usual subtle but persistent promptings to have a baby, from the family, I inherited a designer purse from an aunt who lives in the UK.

Now, I've never really owned a high-end designer purse. Okay, I have had handbags by Tommy Hilfiger or even Donna Karan but I would hardly consider them "designer" purses as none of them cost any more than $100. I also have had a friend who bought me a knock-off Mulberry and an Hermes wallet but then, these don't count.

So, safe to say, this handbag I've inherited is really the first real designer bag I own. And, therein lies my skepticism. First, it's a Louis Vuitton. Do you know how many LV replicas there are out in the market??? Zillions! In fact, it's so common that whenever we see someone carrying an LV, we would immediately discount it as a fake - so, it's fake unless proven genuine. Second, it's an LV Noe - another common model that is replicated. I can tell you already that whoever sees me with my Noe would almost immediately assume that it's a knock-off! Third, and most suspiciously, when I first got the bag, I look at its inside and discovered that it has no tag whatsoever to identify its authenticity. And, being a real skeptical rookie, I was convinced that it's a copy. However, my aunt left message that the bag is indeed the real thing - and I do have reasons to believe her as she's one of those who would spend thousands on such things.

Therefore, the minute I got home, I did what most people would do to clarify or authenticate anything under the sun - I Googled! After spending almost two hours in cyberspace and in total oblivion of my husband, I looked up from my computer and announced that my newly acquired purse is in fact genuine!This of course led me to further question myself why it was so important that the purse is a genuine designer item. And a larger question is why do some people yearn for designer goods so much that they would go to the extent of buying knock-offs when they can't afford the real thing. Do we think that somehow having a G or CC insignia on our purses or wallets would somehow elevate us as a person? And how far would we go in impressing those around us with our designer labels? Or do we somehow believe that a Fendi label would somehow raise our socioeconomic identity in some way? Hmmm... As far as I know now, my genuine LV Noe is great for lugging my new MacBook around as it was initially designed to bag bottles of champagne back in 1932 (holds 5 each). (I do love the historical part of the story behind most labels!)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Are you lonesome tonight?

Sex, relationships, friendships, family, parties,...

For the longest time, I (not unlike three-quarter of the world’s population) thought they were means to ease loneliness – fears and ache of being by oneself.Let me tell you what I’ve discovered since I got married three years ago: even though I enjoy intimate moments in my marriage, I would still sometimes experience real painful loneliness.

After much chasing around the bush of heartache, disappointment, rejection and abandonment, for much of my young adult life, I finally discovered (thanks to a friend that I would consider rather wise) that everybody is lonely in some way. That was quite an enlightenment and relief at the same time.

I remember when I was single, occasionally I would meet people who'd sympathise with me -- they reckoned that since I’m single, I must be lonely. Well, yes, and no.

You see, the deal is this -- the single is commonly perceived as the lonely lot but so are the rest of the people alive. The single is lonely in one way, the married in another; the schoolteacher, the mother, the bankteller and others. It’s true. If you don’t believe me, the next time you go to the bank, ask the teller; or the toll booth attendant.

But is there a reason why we should feel so lonely? Are we really alone? They say, “No man is an island.” But, if we are not islands, why do we feel so alone? If we are "part of the main," why do we so often feel like we are estranged?

Why is it that in spite of - or sometimes, more tragically, because of - our most gut-wrenching efforts to belong and to participate in the sharing of camaraderie or friendship or love, we experience a deep and disturbing distance? The sense of aloneness somehow seems to permeate our existence. Sometimes it subtly, almost unnoticeably lies in the shadows of our consciousness but sometimes it dominates. It is when it dominates that we finally have to unwillingly surrender to it and painfully admit defeat -- confess that we are lonely – as if to actually feel lonely is a highly embarrassing and unnatural thing.


Or more important (and more unnerving), why would any answer to this question give us little or no consolation? Why does "knowing why" offer so little relief? And our need for intimacy - so hard to find and to share and yet so necessary for a satisfying life?

I'm not sure if I can answer this but what I do know is that no man is an island, we are not alone. My failures, my achievements, my strengths and weaknesses reach beyond the space of “me” - they affect people in my periphery. Whether or not I feel it, my life - every life - touches other lives. We are joined in a responsibility to together make this world a good one for all of us. Each of us warms the world or chills it inasmuch as we offer or withhold respect, kindness, support, love, or truth. In that sense we are all parts of each other's well-being and/or sickness, and we affect the space that we all share.

I guess that is why when we try to look for relief from loneliness in friendship, we end up frustrating the relationship and stifling the other person. The result – we are abandoned (again!), hurt and the tenderness of our hearts hardened further.

But we are also alone. It said that "each heart knows its own bitterness, and none else can share its joy." We each have some identity that is separate (and that separates us) from the community. We are individuals, unique in ourselves. We are responsible for our choices, capable of amazing creativity, good but also evil and destruction.

So, in conclusion, maybe loneliness is a part of our experience and perhaps friendship, camaraderie, intimacy, all those things, and loneliness live together in the same experience. The experience of the living.

So, what do we do while we live?

Maybe we should learn and try to love one another, enjoy each other's company, share in the common work, and endure each other's failures. This will not cure our aloneness, so let's not ask that of each other. We must also learn to not be afraid of a very necessary aloneness as in our solitude we may encounter the unexpected joy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another lifetime conversion

I finally did it! After being faithful to the PC since I was introduced to computers, I finally converted to Macintosh today. This decision was largely fueled by my recent battles with viruses and the poor quality of my last PC laptop (Acer). I've only had it for a little over two years and it has crashed on me (last November due to a few strains of viruses despite having Norton anti-virus installed) and its space bar is kaput.

After doing some research online and talking to some friends who've made the conversion, I decided that the higher cost of a MacBook is probably worth it since I don't have to worry much about purchasing anti-virus programs. By the way, have you ever wondered if those anti-virus software guys are the ones who write all these new viruses so that they can stay in business? Hmmm... I wonder!

I'm still trying to get used to my new stylish little MacBook and feeling a little frustrated at times - it's like learning how to ride a bike all over again! - but I'm sure I'll soon enjoy it. As my friend, Sharon, remarked when I told her that I'm considering a conversion, "Welcome to the light-side!"

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Trimming our attachments

It's been almost three weeks since I made my last entry. One reason for the slack is because I've been traveling for work. I've just gotten back from an almost two-week trip to various parts of India. As always, I enjoy India despite the crowds, chaotic traffic and unpredictable hotel rooms. The cheap saris, woolen shawls and blankets plus the good Indian cuisine that come with the travel always trump the inconveniences in the end. Nonetheless, I am glad to be back and sleeping on my own bed next to the one I love! :)

However, a few days into the trip, we received a piece of bad news from our apartment's landlord - he's selling the place. This means, we have to look for a place to move into by May. But since May is a busy month for me, I'm thinking that we'll need to move by April. Yikes! That's just about three months away! So much to do and think about!

When we first got the news, both my husband and I sunk into depression. I know a lot of you might ask what the big deal is - well, it's just moving house! Yeah, it really is NOT a big deal but various factors have contributed to the shock of the news:

1) This is the first place that my husband and I have lived since we got married - so, there is a lot of sentimentality built in there. Our first couch, our first blender, our first dryer, our first dvd player, the list of "firsts" goes on!

2) We're paying peanuts for our present place. At the rate real estate prices are going these days in Singapore, it would be a near-miracle for us to rent another place at the same rate. Our existing budget means we have to settle for a much smaller place - possibly one bedroom less that what we have now and at a much desirable and accessible location (since we don't drive, being close to a trainstation or bus stop is essential).

3) Trimming our stuff - we presently have stuff that fill up a 2-story 3-bedroom, 2-storage room apartment. We also have a nice-sized balcony where I've started a little "zen" corner with bamboo plants and all. When we move, we'll have to throw out and give away a lot of what we have now in order to fit into a smaller apartment. Especially my lovely plants! I've poured so much of my affection into them! I won't have a storage-room just for my shoes and bags anymore!!! Argh!!!

However, as I contemplate the circumstance, I realize that it could be a blessing in a very saddening disguise. As where we are right now is not our final stop and we know for a fact that we are required to constantly move on, such a move would help us trim off our "baggages" and remind us (me, especially!) to not accumulate unnecessarily. Acts of trashing old things also remind me that I should never allow stuff to define who I am and how I feel about how my life is going.

So, having the time to think through the process and grieve through the pain of having to say goodbye to our neat little apartment, I think I'm almost ready for a change. In fact, I've gathered up the guts to throw away a bag-full of old shoes that should have been trashed two years ago! Yeah, sometimes, the healing, the good, comes after the surgeon's cut!

Have a good week, ya'll!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I need a wife!!!

Here's an old (August 2007) article which appeared in the International Herald Tribune which caught my attention. One reason being how it captured my exact feeling about how I feel the way things ought to be!

Women wedded to work - and needing a wife at home
By Shira Boss Monday, August 13, 2007

NEW YORK: Now that women have solidly earned their place in the work force, many find themselves still yearning for something men often have: wives.

"The thing I most want in life is a wife. I'm not kidding," said Joyce Lustbader, a research scientist at Columbia University, who has been married for 29 years. "I work all day, sometimes seven days a week, and still have to go home and make dinner and have all those things to do around the house."

It is not just the extra shift at home that is a common complaint.

Working women, whether married or single, also see their lack of devoted spousal support as an impediment to getting ahead in their careers, especially when they are competing against men who have wives behind them, whether those wives are working or staying at home.

And research supports their argument: It appears that marriage, at least marriage with children, bolsters a man's career but hinders a woman's.

One specialist in women's studies dismissed wife envy as something women "are usually joking about," and another called it "a need for a second set of hands, regardless of gender." But therapists who work with couples on equality issues say it is no joke.

"I hear it all the time," said Robin Stern, a psychotherapist in Manhattan and author of "The Gaslight Effect." "It's a real concern. Things that used to be routinely taken care of during the week are not anymore."

With two-income families now the norm, and both men and women working a record-breaking number of hours, the question has become how to accomplish what used to be a wife's job, even as old-fashioned standards of household management and entertaining have been relaxed.

Many men are sharing the work of chores and child care with their wives, and some do it all as single parents, but women still generally shoulder a greater burden of household business (or fretting over how to do what is not getting done).

According to 2006 survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in five men engages in some kind of housework on an average day, while more than half of women do.

"The real challenge is, companies expect you to perform as if someone is at home taking care of everything for you," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. "Some men are better positioned to deal with these corporate demands, because they do have someone at home. Most women don't."

Working women have noticed, correctly, that their male colleagues with wife support - whether or not those wives are themselves working outside the home - get further at work than the women who are fettered by marriage and children.

Women occupy 50.6 percent of managerial and professional positions, according to the research organization Catalyst, but make up only 15.6 percent of Fortune 500 corporate officers.

Married men and women, on average, earn more than those who are unmarried, with part of that possibly attributed to career and wage advancement as workers mature (and are more likely to be married). But the gap is significantly larger for men than for women. Married women make an average 17 percent more than unmarried women, according to 2005 B.L.S. data on the median earnings of full-time workers, while married men make 42 percent more than unmarried men.

A more statistically rigorous analysis published in 2004, using the Minnesota Twins Registry, tried to isolate the effect of marriage on earnings. It found that holding education and genetics constant, married male twins made 26 percent more than their unmarried brothers.

It is not as clear what effect marriage has on women's careers and earnings, but having children is, overall, an impediment. "There's a well-documented motherhood penalty: women with children are paid less than women without children," controlling for other factors, said Mary Blair-Loy, a sociologist and author of "Competing Devotions," a study of executive women who kept working versus ones who discontinued their careers.

Fathers, however, are not similarly disadvantaged and might even benefit at the workplace from being parents, according to more than one study, including one published in March in The American Journal of Sociology.

In 1972, the first issue of Ms. Magazine included a now classic essay by Judy Syfers, "I Want a Wife." Her fantasies included her wife taking the children to the park and on play dates, arranging a social life, passing hors d'oeuvres to guests, planning meals, cooking, cleaning. The sentiment seems to persist among today's working women.

"On every level, I'm very resentful," Lustbader said. "Not of my husband, but of other women who don't work, or who have a stay-at-home husband." She calls her marriage a good one.

She also has the benefit of a once-a-week house cleaner and had live-in help while the couple's two children were growing up. She did not pursue a tenure track because she wanted to be more available for her children while they were growing up.

While outsourcing household work is a potential solution for families that can afford it, it doesn't solve all the issues. Women are still predominantly the ones hiring and managing the help, according to Blair-Loy and other specialists. And, especially when it comes to child care, they feel there is no substitute for a spouse.

"The situation is, you have to have people doing it for you, or you do it," said Dawn Santana, a corporate lawyer in Manhattan who works part time. "I like to do it myself, and don't trust too many other people. But I would trust a spouse."

Even if the workload is divided, women complain that they are usually the ones organizing, juggling and filling their head space with the daily demands of family life. That leaves less time and energy to focus on the workplace tasks.

"Men lock the door and leave. Things could be a wreck or whatever and it doesn't affect their other world," Santana said. "I walk out and worry about the house looking nice, because the kids have play dates, etc. Someone has to worry about that, and it's usually not the dad."

Sunday, January 6, 2008

"Angel 1"

Okay, so I admit I'm a nerd (but, hey, so is Tina Fey!!!). I love Star Trek: The New Generation (TNG). As far as I'm concerned, it's the best of all the Star Trek series. I remember how during my graduate studies days watching TNG reruns helped me better understand what my professor was teaching in my Metaphysics class.

Recently, we bought the dvds of the whole seven seasons of TNG! My husband and I were so excited at the possibilities! As far as watching tv is concerned, we would be going to a level where we had not gone before! With the Christmas and New Year's holidays, we've made it halfway through season 1 so far.
A few evenings ago, we saw an unusually appealing (at least to me!) episode called, Angel 1. This time, starship Enterprise found themselves encountering a planet called, Angel 1, where women are the warriors/soldiers while the men play the role of earth women. In other words, it's a matriarchal planet! How cool would that world be???!!! Where men dress themselves up sexily to attract and serve the women; where women make all the decisions and are the smart ones.

Hmmm, come to think of it, other than the intellect, I think my home is a tiny fragment of Angel 1 that got thrown out into orbit and landed here on earth!!! In fact, I suspect that there is more than one fragment of Angel 1 here on earth!!! Is your home another lost Angel 1 fragment?

Humor aside, as appealing as such a planet may sound to many, I don't think I want to live within such a culture. For one, I don't want to be the warrior! If possible, I don't want to be the one who makes all the decisions. I know very well, from past experiences, that I am fallible and could be wrong about many things (though as far as my husband is concerned, I am right about most things!) and hence if I want what is best for my family, I don't want to be the sole decision-maker. In the same way, I don't think the husband should be the sole decision-maker either!

And I am so glad that I have a husband who loves me so much that he is not reluctant to challenge me when he thinks I'm wrong. Also, he would not be so proud to not admit when I have made the correct choices. So, Angel 1 remains a fantasy, but one which I hope will not come true!

Have a wonderful week ahead, everyone!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Sexist, but how true

I came across this on Real Simple magazine's editor's blog and I love it. I thought that it's so true in my day-to-day interaction with my husband. What do you think?

9 Words Women Use

1.) Fine: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

2.) Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means half an hour. "Five minutes" is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

3.) Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with "nothing" usually end in "fine."

4.) Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't do it!

5.) Loud Sigh: This is not actually a word, but a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of "nothing.")

6.) That's Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a woman can make to a man. "That's okay" means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

7.) Thanks: If a woman is thanking you, do not question...or faint. Just say you're welcome.

8.) Whatever: A woman's way of saying !%#$ YOU!

9.) Don't Worry About It, I Got It: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking "What's wrong?" For the woman's response refer to #3.