Sunday, January 29, 2006

Doggy Style

It's weird how I've started to give more meaning to Chinese New Year rather than the normal new year these past few years. Not that I go out there and load up on Chinese food, burn incense and stuff, but rather think back on the year that has just passed and ask myself what I have achieved and what I am thankful for. And of course I can't help adding in a few thoughts on who's pissed me off this past year and who has "debts" they need to pay before the year is over. Oh heck, I'll just leave it all to karma.

Since I moved to HK, this is the first Chinese New Year where I did not cook any special meals to commemorate the occasion. When we were living in Happy Valley, I remember cooking up a storm in our tiny kitchen. I cooked the meat, fish, egg wrapped dumplings, soup, veggies and something else. I didn't go overboard the following year and then this year I did crud. Hubby was the one who stepped in and cooked his signature curry. It was great! All I did were the dishes and even Baby Wonder enjoyed his meal.

So far this Dog year is starting off just fine. My friend who has been trying to get pregnant for a few years just found out she's pregnant. Yey! We are all in good health, hubby has a great job, our investments look good still (fingers crossed) and hubby and I still want to jump each other (ok, maybe not everyday, but the desire is still strong, haha!). We may not live in the lap of luxury, but as the clock struck midnight last night, I was trully happy and thankful for the life I have and the people that surrounds me. I feel blessed.

I'm looking forward to seeing what this year will bring. I wish all my relatives and friends good health, good luck and lots of love!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Nutters

I wasn't able to fall asleep right away last night. It was close to midnight and other than the coffee I had too late in the evening, our upstairs neighbors were at it again, screaming at their kids which caused me to stare up at our ceiling for ages.

When we first moved into this apartment last year, we had an encounter with them early on. It was close to 11 in the evening and someone was still playing the piano. With such thin walls, it was annoying listening to someone play the same tune over and over again. It wasn't as if we were listening to Mozart or Beethoven. It was getting late and finally hubby had to go upstairs and complain. He said a kid opened the door and after hubby had kindly asked them to stop playing because we were trying to get some sleep, the kid shut the door. Hubby then heard screaming coming from an older woman. It was a sign of things to come.

Ever since that night, we have probably heard screaming or arguing or crying coming from our upstairs neighbor around once a week. Twice now we have heard a man and a woman joining forces to scream at a crying child. I have no problems if they want to strangle each other, but on both occasions when the crying child was involved, it was close to midnight. I don't see why any parent would scream at their child close to midnight when the child should be in bed long ago. It breaks my heart whenever I hear the child, but since I don't understand what they are screaming about and am not completely sure if it is coming directly from upstairs, I feel powerless to do anything.

Last week the piano playing went on abit too late again. It was past 11 and so hubby went upstairs again. This time, he said after he had rang the door bell, he could see someone looking through the peephole then the piano playing stopped. After that he heard screaming from that same woman, probably to her kids. Then there was complete silence with more eyes looking through the peep hole. Hubby stood there for awhile and when realizing they weren't going to open the door, he said "I can see you looking through the peephole ya know?". Still no one came to the door. What a bunch of lunatics! So hubby left since the piano playing stopped anyway but not before noticing the pictures of Jesus plastered all over their door.

Isn't that ironic? The one door in which screaming and crying comes from often is the door with Jesus' picture on it. Gives you all the more reason to agree with Shyguy's post.

So anyway, the screaming and crying stopped in the end and hubby and I were finally able to drift off to sleep. Maybe we'll hear more screaming next Sunday again after they come home from mass or Sunday worship.

Monday, January 16, 2006

I'm A Horrible Daughter

I'm a horrible daughter. My mom and I were doing some catching up last night after they arrived from Manila. They're here to attend Sun papa's funeral on Wednesday. My mom told me about their trip to Taiwan during Christmas and how her friend celebrated her 60th birthday.

She said her friend's 3 daughters and their families all went to Taiwan and surprised her. They showered her with gifts and held a big party in her honor. And what did my mom's 3 children do for her 60th birthday? Close to nothing.

When my mom celebrated her 60th birthday last December, my brother and his in-laws came to HK and we all had a double celebration for her and my brother who's birthday was in late November. But the main purpose of his trip was not to celebrate any birthdays. My brother just freaked out abit when my dad was hospitalized for nothing serious a few months ago. He felt we should do all we can to spend as much time together as a family, that's why he came. It just so happened it was during my mom and his birthdays. I won't go into the details of the lunches and dinners we had to organize because there was just too much drama. Suffice to say we're not a sentimental family, so celebrations and organizing big gatherings for a measly birthday is not our specialty.

That evening when we actually got them a cake, went to a fancy restaurant, took pictures and sang happy birthday, I really thought it was good enough for my mom. Growing up I don't remember ever celebrating my parents' birthdays. All the birthday pictures I saw were of my brothers and me. So until last night, I always thought the simplest of celebrations was good enough for my parents, my mom especially.

But when my mom went into details of what her friend's daughters did, I could see the slight hint of tears in her eyes, the slight crack in her voice which she was trying hard to swallow. It broke my heart hearing her talk and filled me with guilt that all I gave her was a lousy sweater which cost less than the shirts we gave my brother. I couldn't believe just how horrible of a daughter I am! I wanted to give her a hug and tell her we'll do better next year, but that was already beside the point. The deed was done, or rather not done and there's no doing over.

What I did tell my mom is that I'm sorry we didn't match in terms of effort of what her friend's daughters did. I promised her when we are more financially stable we'll make sure we do something better. And then I also told her I didn't know things like this mattered to her. All our lives we never celebrated their birthdays or anniversaries, its never been programmed in our heads. Even hubby and I don't go out of our way to celebrate each other's birthdays. I don't even remember what we did during our last wedding anniversary. And you can forget about Valentines, Mothersday, Fathersday and even Christmas! We simply greet the person who's day it is, give a kiss and a hug, maybe a cake and our day goes on like any other. Maybe when our son is old enough we'll have to start doing something, but in the meantime, its all just marketing fluff to us.

Of course I didn't go into that much detail with my mom. She understood where I was coming from and even mentioned all my dad would say during her birthday or even his own is: "Oh, its your/my birthday? That's good." But now that I know, I'm going to get my butt into gear and put some effort into it. Knowledge is power, and I'm going to use this new information for some good this year.

Thank god my mom's birthday isn't till December.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Shackles of Inactivity

I was chatting with one of the playground moms yesterday and we both commented on how bored with were. She said its a typical feeling one gets around the new year, so we're pretty normal to feel this way.

Unfortunately both of us are in our shackles of inactivity due to financial reasons. We have both invested in property outside of HK recently and all I can say is that all that payment sucks!

There are times when I sit in front of my tv during my son's nap time and a sudden idea comes to mind. I'm filled with excitement because its either an art class or business idea I want to start. But then I remember we don't have the extra finance for such frivolous hobbies and it takes money to make money. That sucks!

Then there are times when I see a great recipe on the net or in one of my books. A leg of lamb or some exotic expensive ingredient. Oh yes, and a real oven needed too. Can't afford, can't afford and can't fit in our kitchen (can't afford it either and will have to move to a bigger apartment to make it fit, thus can't afford x4). That sucks x3!

I want to whine sometimes and tell hubby how much it all sucks that we can't eat out often, that our bathroom reeks because we're both too lazy to clean it and too cheap to hire a part-timer. I have issues, but I'm sure hubby has more issues coz he needs to come home with the goods to pay for our investments everyday.

So here I am, finding ways of entertaining myself and hoping I'll distract myself before I find more things that suck at the moment. I know, I'll come up with a list of things that suck in general:

1. It sucks when the bathroom rug gets swept up when you open or close the door. I always need to bend down and fix it flat again before and after using the bathroom.
2. It sucks when you're about to enter the elevator to go up then see it packed with people that you thought were going to the basement floor when they entered on the ground floor.
3. It sucks when you thought its cold out, so you bundle up only to realize you've worn too much and need to drag all that extra clothing with you.
4. It sucks when you realize the item you purchased because it was on special is really not on special because someone replaced it in the wrong section.
5. It sucks when you've figured out the perfect outfit to wear only to find out you don't have the shoes to go with it right before you step out.
6. It sucks when you order KFC, tell them you have a coupon for free egg tarts but when its delivered, they still charged you for it!
7. It sucks when the water really stops at the exact time the building management notice said it will.
8. It sucks when your kid does a poo right after you've changed his nappy.
9. It sucks when you time it wrong and he does the poo while you were bathing him!
10. It sucks when you can't even get half a load of laundry together and there is one item in there you need asap.
11. It sucks when you rush home like a mad woman thinking you've left the stove on and you didn't!
12. It sucks when you fidle with your CD Rom drive for ages trying to figure out how to save something on your disk then you realize its not a CD Rom recorder. Duh.

I Can See Clearly Now, Sort Of

I miss my friend. One of my fondest memories were of us sitting on the boot of my parents' car singing songs all afternoon. And on Sundays, we would walk to hear mass together at the village church a few minutes away. We talked about all sorts of stuff, there was nothing we couldn't say to each other. There were the few arguments, but we always found a way to mend things and move on. I considered her my sister, that is why its so hard to let go and to forgive.

Its been at least 4 years since all hell broke loose between us. We've agreed to disagree because when husbands are involved, there is no way of resolving things fully. At least our battles have shown how fiercely loyal we are to our husbands. And only time will tell whom among us was the fool for being so blind.I've gone through all the stages of loss. I've cried, gotten angry, denied it ever happened, but am only starting to touch upon acceptance. How do you accept the loss of such a close friend when she is still alive and well, but just doesn't need you in her life anymore?

I really miss you friend. You were that one person I told everyone I could trust and depend on fully. I knew you would always be there when I needed you. And most of all, I knew you would defend me and stand on my side. You were that fiercely loyal friend every gal should have.I still think of her often. It hurts to know she's moved on while I'm still licking my wounds. Its been so long! What's wrong with me.

Just awhile ago while I was cooking tonights dinner, it dawned on me... darn it, she didn't move on to spite me or anything, she just did. She can't help it if I just don't mean that much to her anymore. She's got a new baby, a husband and a great career. Its nothing personal. Well, it was personal of course, but you know what I mean. Our lives reached that fork in the road and we each took a different route. She's got her own circle of friends now, and so have I. I really felt like I died when I lost her true friendship, but I'm still here and I sure am tougher because of it. I'm glad I'm starting to see abit clearler each day. Its taken me years but I'm getting there

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I Chose Poorly

I don't know why, but a past issue I've had has been on my mind again lately. When we were living in Shanghai last year, a good friend of mine came to visit with her parents. She's from a conservative Fil-Chi family. After they left, my friend told me her dad commented about my lifestyle as a direct result of the choices I have made in my life. Simply put, he felt I was living it tough and that I had made poor choices in life. She was quite upset when she heard it and I was glad to know she didn't agree with him.

I have to admit I grew up in a very sheltered society. I never worked until I graduated from college. And even then, my parents still subsidized my living. I never worried about money and was never given the lecture on saving and how hard it is out there in the real world. I never really knew just how sheltered I was until one day, years after I graduated from highschool I found out somehow that all those years at ICA, my dad went to enroll for me. It turned out many of my classmates went and enrolled themselves, but there was my dad, doing it all for me. It touched me deeply to know just how much of a softy my dad was, but it also upset me how he didn't make me do it myself. I realize now it was because of things like these that I had always expected people to work things out for me. If there was some difficult paperwork that had to be dealt with, or some complicated issues about a travel document or visa application, etc. that I could always find someone to sort it out for me. I knew my parents loved me, but I'm glad they didn't love me too much and finally allowed me to make my own mistakes and learn from it as I got older.

In the eyes of my friend's father I understand all he sees is the endless amount of chores I have to do each day. In Shanghai, we hired a part-timer to do the cleaning and dishwashing. I did all the grocery shopping, laundry, cooking and bringing up of my then 8 month old. He probably thought I was doing it tough and had no life. Granted it was tough at times, but darn it I managed. What my friend's father didn't see were the muscles that I had build up not only physically but mentally, emotionally and psychologically. I had turned from that girl that didn't know how to cook and fend for herself into a fully independent, can-do-it-all-no-nonsense-can-kick-you-in-the-butt super woman. Put me up against any girl living in Manila now and I'm sure I can wrestle her to the ground. I'm proud of the person I have become because of the challenges I have had to face. Yes its tough, but it can be done. I wanted him to know its nice to live like a princess, but you can only go so far and learn so little living in a castle all your life.

I want my children to live a comfortable life someday, but most of all I want them to have the capability and toughness if it will be required someday. It saddens me to know that many parents out there are so caught up "protecting" their children they've forgotten to teach them how to protect themselves. And then it angers me that they look down upon people like me that have chosen to live the way I do.

My mom told me many of her friends still give their almost 30 year old children midnight curfews. Then they pester them on why they're not married yet. Duh! So yeah, I may have chosen poorly, but thank god I was given the ability to choose.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Spinning the Wheel

My new year started out great because we were vacationing in Oz. It also went abit bad because we received news on the passing of a very close friend who lost his battle with lung cancer. Next to my grandmother who passed away in 2000, he is the next closest person to us whom we have lost. I wasn't there when my grandmother suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. My mother felt there was no need for me to fly to California and watch my grandmother die. I felt bad I wasn't needed there, but in the end, I was glad my last memories of my grandmother were of her alive and happy.

This time I've come much closer to what has happened. Although I wasn't able to visit him at the hospital, I did see him a few weeks before we left on holidays. He had become frail and thin as a stick. The man I once knew as the ultimate king of his household had withered into someone I no longer recognized. The man whom his family lived in the shadow of his tempers and rule had to be carried in and out of his bedroom. But in true character, he took up smoking again because he had nothing else to loose.

He leaves behind a wife and 4 grown children. He has no grandchildren and so far it doesn't seem like there will be any. I've asked myself what a person like this would have left behind. Most of the marks he left on his family are not of happy times. I asked myself what impact has he had on my life? And has his life influenced that of mine?

At first I thought the answers would be no. But then I remembered that last time we visited him at his apartment. His youngest son started taking out pictures we had taken through the years. It was a treat to see such old photos since we had lost some of ours in a fire and then majority of the rest in a misplaced shipment. I didn't realize just how intertwined our familes were. There were pictures of birthdays, baptisms, weddings, anniversaries, dinners, parties, etc. They were that family we actually grew up with. The pictures may hide the pain or trouble that lay beneath all those smiles, but his family was a part of mine. My childhood memories composed of him and his family. And that is definitely a mark that will live on of him. Rest in peace Sun papa. We already miss you.