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:

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 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.