Archive for May, 2006

I Miss SD So Much

May 27, 2006

It's beginning to sink in, I'm here. I can't believe I actually did it. Left everything behind. Only things I have to show are odds and ends carrying memories of a different life, valueless in itself, priceless only to me. My IrC pink-blue-yellow stripey shoes. I graduated in them. Walked the campus of UCSD, Claudio the Chemist as tour guide. Took me round the pond one chilly November night, trying to walk off heartache and the knowledge of the inevitable. Scruffed them taking the laundry out of the car.

In a way, I'm not surprised I stuck to the plan to return. That had always been the plan. I tell myself that a lot. In other ways, I am surprised that I stuck to the plan. I think many people were too.

I don't know how I managed it. Pack away all my stuff, what do I keep?, what do I bring back?, last dinner, roast lamb and chocolate tart, load the luggage, quick farewells, last hug, last kiss, mustn't linger, lug my huge backpack onto that little plane, across LAX, change into jammy pants before boarding, boarding pass in hand. Every step weighted by forced resolution, every step further away from, every step easier, every step harder.

Not that there's nothing to come back to. There's plenty. More than what was left behind. But that didn't make it less painful. I thought it would, but it doesn't. Some things don't take the place of some things. I guess it's all about choices. I don't know why I made the choice I made. But I know the choice was made even before I left.

My charming little haunted apartment. Dark wood-panelled walls, host to many a quirky stuff. Tiny glow-in-the-dark stars and planets blurring, telling me I'm sleepy. Sun-drenched backyard. Cats criss-crossing, leaving paw marks on the garden wall. Ice-cold Snapple, chips, Robert Ludlum, getting a tan. Heidi turning lobster red. Sunday night dinners, roasts over potatoes. Tommy the Turkey, Dolly the Lamb. Saturday morning, Xiaolin Showdown! Late nights, cuddling and cosy, falling asleep to Charlie Rose. Book stores and cafes. Vintage clothes, dark chocolate covered soynuts, haircuts at Joseph's. Driving across Coronado Bridge, the Pacific glittering in warm orange tones borrowed from the late afternoon sun. La Jolla, waves crashing, jumping into the frigid water, snorkel misting up, "Look! Garibaldi!"

Thanks for the memories. No thanks for the heartache.


How to Get Myself a Guy #256

May 24, 2006

Brilliant idea came to me some time before dawn, when I was briefly awake between dreams. Yes, I dream prolifically. If all my dreams became books and each book sold only 100 copies, I'd still be richer than Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum and John Grisham put together.

Here's the bright idea:

Since certain guys wear certain shirts and some guys will not be caught wearing some shirts and other guys will wear nothing but those said shirts, I should go to the mall and find the shirt that the kind of guys I fancy wear.

And since the kind of guys I fancy are part-geeky, part-cute, retro-cool, part-down to earther, part-dreamer, preferably quirky, probably computer nerd by profession, required to be weekend adventurer/beach bummer, I figure the shirt should be a casual short-sleeved button-down shirt in some sort of low-key quirky retro/vintage print.

Game Plan:

Locate the shirt.

Station myself at opportunistic location.

Lean against the wall wearing dirt on my face, cowboy hat pulled low over my eyes.

Wait patiently.

Guy approaches shirt, picks it up.

Assess guy.

If passes, I say to him:

"Saaaaay cowboy, you got yourself a girl? … No? … Good then."

Lasso him.

Whistle for trusty steed.

Drag him home.

Letter to Gale

May 22, 2006

Hello Dear Friend,

How have you been? I hope you’re keeping well. Don says you’re in Texas and will be for a while more. I pray the weather is kind to you.

Two months, but it feels like it’s been years since I’ve been in your kitchen, sunlight streaming, tea steaming, dogs within pushing their noses into our hands, squirrels without helping themselves to birdseed. And in the last weeks, bunnies munching on your precious green grass like a scene out of Wallace and Gromit, not that you hold it against them, dear sweet Gale, friend of the creatures of God.

Gregory Page sings to me. I put in the CD when I’m alone at home in the afternoon, lost in my reflections as I put up my quirky bric-a-brac, trying to make my room feel like home, at a time of the day when, if I’d been in SD, I’d make a pot of sweet mung bean soup then bring it over to share as we pore over art books, admire fabrics, talk about life, lose track of time.

In your cosy kitchen, we travelled around the globe, back in time and back again. Sometimes we linger, spend a whole afternoon in Japan browsing through kimonos, crying over the poverty of Africa, gaping at the architecture of ancient civilisations. Sometimes we speed through Monty Python, fast forward to 16 Blocks, fall back to Gene Kelly, then further back to Jeeves and Wooster.

Remember that night when we turned up on short notice, me dressed in a sharp black shirt, Charles’ best tie, and kohl moustache ala Orlando Bloom in Pirates of Caribbean? How we talked into the night.

He’s singing. I came home, I came home without her. How did he know?

Yet another beautiful thing you have brought to my life. Remember Klimt’s landscapes? And Wind in the Willows?

I read it all the way home. Started it when I was at the airport, waiting to board, trying to hold back tears, pushing away thoughts of things left behind, losing myself in the make-believe world of two friends who when together, every day is an adventure, every new thing a startling discovery. Maybe not so make-believe after all. Turned the last page as the wheels touched down.

I look out. It’s tropical, warm and green. It never fails to catch me unprepared, those hours in limbo, suspended in time and space, bringing me to another world, another life.

Every now and then, I think of your maiden name. Strim-kov-sky. I say it in my mind. Pronounce every letter, every syllable. I’m glad I remembered to ask. It’s a beautiful name.

I love you, Gale, and miss you lots. Wish you were here. Or I was there.

Lots of love and hugs and kisses and belly rubs…

In Which I Heard Voices In My Head

May 21, 2006

In the dream, I was going about with my usual stuff when I started hearing voices in my head.

“Oh no! I’m becoming like my patients! Is schizophrenia infectious??”

Suppresing a panic…

“Ok… calm down… it’s not infectious, mental illness is not infectious. Ok.. Let’s try and isolate the voice. It’s speaking gibberish… Wait a minute!… It’s not coming from inside my head, it’s coming from outside, from behind my left ear!”

I turn around to see what’s behind me.

Then I wake up and really turn around. It is TBF, hugging me from behind, his face behind my left ear, muttering gibberish in his sleep!

I poke him in his ribs to make him stop and fall back to sleep, relieved in the knowledge that my sanity is intact.

Guy Magazines Rock!

May 21, 2006

I haven’t bought a single women’s magazine since I’m 18? 17? And that’s a long time ago, more than a decade.

The reason, simply, is that I don’t need to spend 10 bucks on a 3 pound load of glossy pictures telling me what I should look like, wear, spread on my face, carry on my arm, go on a second date with etc etc. Or worse, pseudo-psycho/socio/pharmaceutical/medical quizzes telling me if my date is an ass, my husband is worth keeping, my mother-in-law is in the 90th percentile of pure evil, the lump I have is malignant, I need pills for my depression, my stress level is through the roof.

Invariably, there’ll be an article on how to burn off fats, get rid of cellulite, tone flabby arms, perk up saggy boobs. In every interview with some drop dead gorgeous celebrity, there’ll be oh-so-casual mentions of daily 2-hour yoga sessions, water and fruits for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 4 hour marathons on the treadmill, 200,000 ab crunches.

Not to mention inane articles about how the ice-cream flavour he favours indicates what kind of lover he is, how the shape of his lips indicates what kind of lover he is, how the way he wears his hair indicates what kind of lover he is, how his choice of automobile indicates what kind of lover he is, how his relationship with his mother indicates what kind of lover he is. In case you’re interested, you’d be wanting a chocolate-loving, bow-lipped, floppy haired, Hummer-driver who has a non-existent relationship with his mother. No, I’m kidding. I wouldn’t know. All I do is read the headlines and laugh.


Why do women’s magazines feel the need to tell me how to “have a wonderful life”? As if there is something inherently wrong in being less than perfect. True, many magazines celebrate the less than perfect “real” women. But is that reflected in the glitzy ads and the fashion spreads?

Sure, there are always drop dead gorgeous women in guy’s magazines. In fact, the only time there are ugly women in those magazines is when they’re poking fun at them. Even so, that doesn’t happen much. Men prefer to be in a world where all women are beauties. But they’re totally honest about it. And they’re not saying that all women need to look like that. They don’t ever mention the extends to which these women go to look good. They, in their simple-mindedness (not a bad thing that, not at all), are just saying, “Look at her! Oooo…. Hubba-hubba!”

One might say that guy’s magazines objectify women. That’s another discussion altogether. And not like women’s magazines don’t do that. Top 10 Eligible Bachelors? Hollywood’s Hunkiest Hunk? Eh?

That said, I’d take a hubba-hubba good time with Maxim any time over guilt-inducing Cosmo. Granted, the jokes are crude and the fashion skimpy, but I don’t have to fork out a cent. All I got to do is pick up my dad’s.

Valuables and Such

May 15, 2006

What a week, so much to put to words. But first off, look what I have!

Mogu and V

I inherited/salvaged it from a family friend. His wife got it at a pharmaceutical conference and he’s been using it as a cushion in his car, thinking he’s safe in the fact that most people will not realise what it is. And so it was. But many months later, I was back on vacation, climbed into his car and exclaimed, “H! Why do you have a giant Viagra in your car?!?” Startled, he said that I was the first person to know what it is. Err… I thought it was pretty obvious. Not because I use it, seeing as I am a gal and have no need for aids as such. Nevertheless, it’s now mine cos it’s become pretty grubby and they were going to throw it out. I just had to save it. It’s a perfect addition to my collection of all things quirky.

Also, this guy has in his possession a limited edition football autographed by all the team members of the World Cup 2002 Korean team. And his wife wanted to *gasp* throw it out cos it was taking up too much space! I was sorely tempted to say, *casually* “Oh, that worthless thing? Yeah, throw it out. Here, right here in my waste paper bin is a good place.” I’m pretty sure that football will fetch a pretty penny. Bids, anybody?

Next on the list, there’s been a new addition to the family. No, not the Viagra. I am now an aunt! To an adorable 7 pounder baby gal with pinch-worthy cheeks. She sure looks like she belongs. She’s got the family nose. Flat and round. Some day, some plastic surgeon will be making a fortune off this family.

Lastly, I had a sudden revelation some time last week. One of those lights dawning, sitting down in slow motion, stopping in one’s tracks kindof moment. Except I was really doing none of that cos I was lying in bed with the lights out. The last time I had a revelation like that was quite some years ago when I suddenly recalled that I used to think that the eggs served with kway chap were pig eggs cos everything else in the pot were some parts or other of the pig. Child’s logic – pig intestines, pig skin, pig stomach, pig eggs. Of course, I had learned quite a long time ago that pigs don’t lay eggs but I don’t remember ever making the correction in my mind about the kway chap. Aaaanyway, I digress.

The revelation is, being back to square one isn’t a bad thing. It’s really an opportunity that not many people will get. I was catching up with a friend and after asking about what happened with Then-Boyfriend (Nothing happened. It just ended. The Pacific Ocean is a rather sizeable deterrant.), he commented, “So you’re back to square one? Why you always like that?” Hmm… true. Not a bad thing though. After witnessing a whole bunch of marriages go wrong, I shudder at the thought of what might have been. Now that I’ve been removed from that situation for quite a while, I’m rather amazed that at one point in my life I was more than ready to settle down and have kids. Oh wow. Now, it’s such a foreign idea. Something that I’m quite undecided about. Almost like a strange food that one lets linger on one’s tongue, rolling it about, trying to decide if one likes it or not. The jury is still out.

My Boxes Have Arrived!

May 8, 2006

I was just worrying this morning about whether the postal system has lost my boxes. I shipped out 3 boxes of assorted random stuff by surface mail, the cheapest and slowest available, from SD almost 2 months ago. I was not looking forward to having to fill out a claim form, trying to wrest $200 for such priceless stuff as:

– been-around-the-world myanmar bags

– marble handbook and price guides

– Jack In The Box football foam head

– Mr. Friendly hand towel

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– polka dotted fleece blanket

– polka dotted Christmas stocking


– Gregory Page CD

– Unite hair products

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– cards and letters from family and friends

– the only still-functioning watch I possess

– Sharp Healthcare / Petco Park Inaugural baseball

– Wonder Bread sandwich box in the shape of Wonder Bread

– G.I. Joe lunch box

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– disco dress from vintage store

– disco shoes

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– Mr. Friendly-shaped back pack

– mass-produced polyester SDSU graduation gown, cap and cords

– Doraemon rubber stamp

– clothes, clothes, clothes

– shoes, shoes, shoes and shoes

– textbooks, textbooks, textbooks

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The last item is especially handy since I just talked to someone about a job this morning and need to research more about that particular sector.

Now, the task at hand is to make space for all that stuff!

I Voted!

May 6, 2006

For the first time in my life! No prizes for guessing which side of the fence I’m on!

Delayed Gratification, a means to an end.

May 5, 2006

I've been practising delayed gratification since I've been back. In fact, I announced to my then-boyfriend while we were out on a drive that that is exactly what I'm going to do when I got back.

He was puzzled. He is a life-long advocate of the very strange (to me!) concept of delayed gratification, while I lobby for the satisfaction that is instant gratifiction. Nothing satisfies me more than having green tea ice-cream when I want it, whenever I want it. Then-Boyfriend, on the other hand, has a stash of good shirts, collector's edition DVDs, hard cover books, wines and such stuff that is he saving for the "special occasion". At the rate he is going, I think the "special occasion" is his funeral. He will be buried in his best clothes, shoes and watch while we sit around, read his good books, watch his good DVDs and sip his good wines (though I'd take Ribena anytime over wine).

There was a silence in the car after my self-satisfied and totally unexpected announcement. Then-Boyfriend tentatively broke the reverie.

TBF: I thought you didn't believe in delayed gratification.

za: I don't.

TBF: Then why?

za: I don't believe in it as an end, but it is a good means towards an end.

TBF: That end being…?

za: Not ballooning from over-indulging in local food.

TBF: I see…

So, that's been the plan. Unlike my previous trips home, this time I'm here to stay. There's no need to make a list of delicacies I need to tuck into before the flight back to SD. That plan was never failproof anyway. Despite much consultation of the memory and the stomach and much input from well-meaning friends, I would, at takeoff, without fail, sit up in my seat and exclaim, "Darn… I forgot indian rojak / mutton soup / milo dino / you get the idea!"

Last night, after quite a few weeks of being home, I was finally at Chomp Chomp and enjoying Sea Coconut Ice Jelly. Yummm….


May 4, 2006

It's a strange feeling. Catching up with friends from a lifetime ago. I've been putting it off. Have been back for a month already. Finally caught up with 2 high school friends. Met at one of the gal's apartment, though really, she's a mother now and deserves more than gal. Anyway…

She's the mother of a 1 1/2 year old boy. The other gal, mother of a 1 1/4 year old boy and 5 months pregnant, turned up a little later, huge bag and domestic help in tow. The reason I'm so exact with the ages of the the babies, instead of merely branding them as "babies", is that, I have learned, over the course of the afternoon, that details like this are so important in the life of a mother.

So we sat around, chatted, snacked and watched the babies totter, play and fall. It was a pleasant and enjoyable afternoon, for sure.

Left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, the feeling of having missed out on something all these years that I've been away. On the other hand, the feeling of having been spared the mundane.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think their lives are boring, nor do they, for that matter of fact. Their boys are their joy. Yet, with a gentle pat to my knee, one gal advised me to enjoy my freedom.

I am strangely content with my life. Though that nagging feeling of having missed out is still there, I refrained from rushing out in my prettiest dress and handing out name cards to seemingly available men. Or neoprints, as one friend advised. (Eeks…!)

A few days later, in a random moment of revelation, I realised that what I felt I was missing out on was not specific objects (for want of a better word) such as husband, babies and career, but change.

I remember looking around at the gal's apartment and thinking how it looks so homely and lived in compared to the spanking newness and sparkling brightness of when they first got married. And seeing how my friends, friends I grew up with, have moved on in their lives. Marriage, apartments, babies, cars, domestic help – all strange new territory to me, yet so much a part of their lives.

After having been away for 4 1/2 years, I've come home to my parents' apartment, to the same room I've had, the same life. It's strange. The only visible difference is the graduation mugshot my parents made me buy and put up in the room for me. Strangely, my graduation gown is almost exactly like the one I wore for my PAP kindergarten assembly-line-fake-scenic-background photo. Hmm…

After all that's said, I am content with my life. It's all good.