The organised chaos

Water running off my back

I sat on the floor of our bathroom, the shower turned on in full strength.
The steam from the hot water rose up and filled the air with mistiness and mystery.
But I like it – I’ve always loved steamy, hot baths, even though J thinks that it’s hot enough to burn.
I haven’t done that in a long while, just sitting there and letting the water fall onto my body.
It was oddly reassuring and calming, the water beating down my back and dripping off my hair.
It had been a long week, capped off with drama mamas.
And I was angry. Frustrated. Hurt. Disappointed.
So I sat there on the floor and closed my eyes.
I felt, rather than thought.
And I felt I had enough of this negativity.
I didn’t want to waste my life thinking about what others said, about the things I didn’t have and wanted, about the twists and turns.
I’ll just be.

I stood up, turned off the tap and walked out, leaving the unhappiness behind, flowing steadily down the drain.

As Sara Bareilles sings, And who cares if you disagree/You are not me/Who made you king of anything?

The organised chaos

The good Asian girl

I was brought up in a fairly traditional Chinese family. All my life, I never had much problem with it. Perhaps it’s because I was young and I hardly questioned my mother’s authority. Maybe it’s because I accepted it as a way of life. But as an adult, I find myself feeling increasingly restricted, resentful and unhappy about the societal chains and expectations that bind me.

It doesn’t matter that throughout my life, I did all the right things. The good things. I never strayed from the obvious road: study hard in school, go to university, get a degree, get a job, support the family, get married, have children. I had good grades without going for tuition, went to good schools and received a college education. I don’t smoke, never took drugs and didn’t fool around with boys.

By the time I was 19, I was financially independent. I never took a single cent from my mother from then on, and took on the debt of my college education myself. I supported my mother financially from the day I got my first paycheck. Husband and I got married and bought a house without financial contribution from our parents. I was a good kid. I am a good kid.

But these do not matter. Now, I have to be the good, dutiful daughter-in-law because it would cast doubt on my upbringing if my mother-in-law finds fault with me. Never mind that I am polite to a fault and always greet my husband’s parents with respect. Never mind that the issues husband and I are facing are personal – I must respect the parent-son relationship and tell my in-laws our problems because I am part of their family now. Never mind that I attend all family functions and that both husband and I do a whole lot more for his parents than his brothers do.

And no, I am not a good daughter because my mother-in-law thinks that I avoid going back for dinner (not true); because she thinks that I have not assimilated well into their family (true to a certain sense – but it’s only because husband himself isn’t close to his siblings and we are all operating on different wavelengths and dialects); because our laundry doesn’t smell nice and our fridge is less than clean; because we have two feline babies but no human ones; because I am too thin to bear my husband a child (the right response to this is: what the fuck?)

It makes me wonder, why the hell did I try so hard to be a good daughter all my life? Are all that I have ever achieved not enough, especially given circumstances? What else to I have to do: produce a baby just because my mother-in-law desperately yearns for a grandchild? More importantly, why are there so many expectations set for me and when can I live for me?

I hate these feelings of entrapment and guilt, and the implicit accusation that I am not a good Asian girl if I do not do as my elders say and feel. I respect them as elders but it does not mean that I agree with everything they say or that I will do exactly as they say.

Call me ungrateful but I am a 29-year-old woman who wants to lead her own life. I’m tired of trying to do the right thing and now I just want to do my thing.

The organised chaos

“Did I meet your expectations?”

I am starting to love what StoryCorps does more and more. It’s such a wonderful thing to keep a record of everyday people and the lives that they lead, like the poignant and tender tale of Danny and Annie.

This time, we have 12-year-old Jonathan Littman interview his mother Sarah. The catch is, Jonathan has Asperger’s syndrome, which is an autism spectrum disorder. What I love most about this is Sarah’s candid answers to her son. When he asked if he was the son that she had expected, my eyes welled up. Of course he wasn’t – but that didn’t mean she loved him any lesser, or that he didn’t exceed her expectations. Listening to her answer his questions made me want to be the mom that she is when we have children.

Recently, my sister had a Down Syndrome scare with her baby. While everyone fretted and flapped their hands in panic, I was strangely calm. I just knew that the baby is going to be fine, with or without Down Syndrome. Because we are all going to love him and care for him, regardless.

What if our child turns out to be suffering from a disorder and we have the option to abort him/her? I posed the question to Mr Thick and he said he wasn’t mentally or financially prepared to take care of a child with health problems (I love asking him these “what if” questions – though he doesn’t quite love answering them). He also noted that it was a tough question to answer hypothetically unless we were really faced with the situation.

My answer was, I would keep the baby. Because it’s our child, we made him and he didn’t ask to have a disorder. Was it fair to deny him of the life that he could have then?

Here’s one mother who didn’t count on her daughter being a Down syndrome baby. She cried her heart out and then embraced who her child is, never looking back. How beautiful and strong.

Arts & Entertainment

Born to Run

Luckily for me, I was on half day leave on the day that the Emmys aired. I stayed home, glued to my sofa, until my beloved vampire (Skarsgard! Skarsgard!) appeared on my TV screen and presented an award. Sigh. He’s so gorgeous in a Tom Ford tuxedo. I’ll bet every woman watching the awards on telly was going, take me, you big blonde Viking! Tux pr0n! Tux pr0n!

ANYWAY, because I had gotten out of bed late, I missed the opening number for the awards. And what a show stopper it was! Proving the power of Glee, host Jimmy Fallon gathered a myriad of TV stars to do a Glee-inspired cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.

Let me tell you, I had tears in my eyes when they burst onto the stage and started singing and dancing. Sometimes, I do miss my time onstage, especially when we did musicals back in secondary school. It was energetic, infectious, lively and lots of fun.

But look at Jon Hamm! Man, can he swivel those hips. Mmm mmm. Very sexy. And Tina Fey is oh so cute, she makes me want to get a pair of geek glasses now. And yes, what’s the point of spending all that money on Lasik then?


Two of Us

The story of Danny & Annie

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

One of the greatest fears that I have is Death. No, not for myself – although there are times when I do wonder what would happen to my soul but that is strictly an existential conundrum – but more of what I would do if Mr Thick dies first.

I know, it’s not exactly the most romantic of things to think about your loved one but it’s hardly surprising coming from me because my own dad passed on 23 years ago, leaving my mom to bring up two kids by herself. Death may not be a close concept to many people (and you should feel blessed!) but it’s real to me.

I’ve always told Mr Thick that he had better not die before I do because there is no way I could go on without him. Oh, I am pretty sure he can survive on his own two feet without me. He may even go on and find somebody else (in which case, he can definitely expect a nocturnal visit from his very dead, very pissed and very ghostly wife). But me, nah. I could possibly live without him but why would I want to do that when being with him brings me so much joy every day?

But I digress. The clip above tells the story of Danny and Annie. They talk about their 27-year-old romance, from their very first date to his final days with terminal cancer. It’s so beautiful, touching and poignant. Two years after recording this interview and on the day that it was broadcast on public radio, Danny died.

I’m not embarrassed to say that I cried while watching this.

The organised chaos, Travel

It always rains on my parade

So there I was on a dreary Monday afternoon, crowing happily to Pinkbee about the cheap holiday that I had booked for Mr Thick and myself.

Everything – airfare and accommodation – came up to only $400 for both of us, yadda yadda yadda, I exclaimed over IM in the only way that you can exclaim over IM. (Did that make sense? Good.)

It’s monsoon season in Krabi, by the way, she replied, matter-of-factly.


Okay, no wonder everything was so cheap. We had grand plans to go to Bali for a holiday but as our grand plans usually go, they died. Mr Thick has some army mobilization thingy on that Saturday of our planned trip, we procrastinated on our air tickets, and we (okay, I) dithered about going at all. We briefly contemplated going to Marina Bay Sands for a staycation instead but the horrid reviews put us off.

Now, we have a fabulous beach resort holiday on our hands, replete with monsoon rains.

I guess I can still brave the rains to go for a massage and manicure?

In happier days with sunshine (Krabi, circa 2006)