Thursday, August 31, 2006

Nightmare Secretary Sighting

For a few months now, I've gotten the heebie jeebies while walking past the golf shop on the second floor between Suntec Tower One and Tower Two. My subconscious keeps telling me that something evil this way comes and I thought well it can't possibly be my ex-secretary - I haven't seen that crazy bitch in years.

Yesterday I walked past the golf shop again and lo and behold she was walking in the opposite direction -- my nightmare ex-secretary aka the Bleach Drinker. Also the only person who ever worked for me whom I had to sack.

It's really not me (she said, not sounding defensive or anything). Through the years, I've worked with the Insane, the Blind and the Barely Competent. Together with the 5 am facekicking that I now get every morning, I'm probably one of the most tolerant people on the planet.

The Insane was a relatively young woman who had been a housewife for some years (3, I think). We (her other boss and I) used that old chestnut to death to justify her social inadequacy. She'd take forever to get anything done, you know, like she didn't have anything else to do or anything. I'd hate to see what her housework is like. And in between tasks, she would just sit there and stare at us, cow-eyed, through the office window. Just like an axe murderer on drugs. We put up files, notepaper, office notices to block up the window and she'd just move them on the sly when we were out to lunch, so that she'd be staring at us through a strategic gap in the files, notepaper and office notices when we got back. And when she wasn't staring, she'd take long aimless walks through the office, like she was on some kind of a scenic tour.

The Blind was a very senior secretary who had obviously gone extremely long sighted some time back. Also didn't wash her hair, of which there was a lot. She refused to wear her glasses in the office, preferring to position her head 2 inches from the computer screen and the paper she was reading. I'd be pointing something out to her and her nose would almost be touching my hand. I couldn't see the paper anymore, just a big head of unwashed hair which smelt really really musty. A bat could've flown out and I wouldn't have been surprised.

Nightmare secretary was fairly intelligent (studying part time for her law degree) but her failing in life arose from the fact that she was almost pretty. Just fell short of actually being good looking. She tried to compensate for it with tight clothes, a really coy way of speaking and a string of unstable Ang Mo boyfriends, all of whom were married. None of this is my business of course, but it became my business because she spent all her time on the telephone with girlfriends mooning about the guy and then on the phone with the guy(s) himself. I just couldn't get her attention. I'd stand there holding a piece of paper in my hand and looking like I had to pee, just oozing panic and urgency, and she'd show me the hand. Hold your horses there missy, said the hand. Can't you see I'm doing something else right now? We communicated by Post-It.

One of the married boyfriends eventually moved away from Singapore and she was so distraught that she took to drink. Not alcohol, but bleach. Maybe she thought it was alcohol. Anyway, after her discharge from the hospital, she couldn't speak for a week. According to the lawyer who was working with her at that time, it was bliss. Things got done, she didn't spend all day on the phone and she did not once answer back. It crossed my mind a couple of times that I could try and make S$1.50 worth of Clorox go a long way towards productivity in the office, but really if I didn't kill her in the process then she would definitely come back and kill me.

Finally, after long discussions with the Admin department and much soul searching (to see if I had the guts to go through with it), I sacked her. On the same day, she quit. And then called her father who complained to a senior colleague in my firm and suggested that I should also be fired. Then she tossed out the last 2 weeks of filing into the trash bin. That's the one time I realized how truly rewarding my habit of peering into people's office dustbins could be. Since then the relative rewards have been paltry.

So somewhere in Suntec City now, is a could-be lawyer who looks like an average Chinese woman but eats living guts.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Prison Ain't The Only Place You Get Kicked Awake

It's astounding how someone who used to take up so little space now takes up so much. The Husband and I got kicked awake at about 6 am this morning by The Son, whom it seems can only sleep if he is lying on top of the blanket and upside down. On a good day, he sleeps at a right angle to both of us, which means one of us will get head butted while the other one gets kicked in the face as he thrashes about in his sleep. I don't know which is better.

We routinely wake up before the alarm (set at 7 am) nowadays which is a miracle in itself.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Something Infinitely More Cheery

The Son playing Peekaboo with the Grandma yesterday evening. See how he holds the pacifier in his hand, in case of emergency.

Still playing, 3 out of 5 balls down.

Somehow the photo session with the second model (a 17-year old junior college student), combined with some really terrible news from an ex-boyfriend, has managed to get me a little bit down. Smootie - now with 50% less cheer.

If I could compare my life to a pinball game, I'd be 3 balls down, with 2 more balls to go but still in the heat of play.

The second model looked very mature for a 17-year old. Got me reminiscing about the time when I was 17, clueless and the only thing on my mind was boys, school and private tuition 5 times a week. I did not tie up my long curly hair, did not wear my school badge or any socks. I routinely showed up late for school with light makeup (foundation, powder, lipstick and blusher) and lots of jewellery. There was not a single minor rule I did not break with impunity. My civics tutor who was the school disciplinary master received no end of flak from his colleagues.

I had my whole life ahead of me. New pinball game. And I thought I was so mature. A good day was when my favourite school skirt (a little shorter than the rest!) was ready to wear. A bad day was when a classmate broke my nail buffer while buffing his nails. It's been a while since I felt so carefree.

Now I sit at home watching yet another episode of High Five (Animal Adventures!) and I wonder if my son's life will be as carefree, and if I will be able to make his life as comfortable as mine has been.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I's Off

Have been a bit quiet these days. Am using the slight lull in work flow to get a little bit of quality Son time. Not to mention the second model shoot scheduled for tonight, which I'm hoping will not turn into a second-model-shoot-with-model's-boyfriend-supervising session. How would he feel if our respective spouses, boyfriends and significant others also showed up. After all, the model could be leering at us too, right. We could need protection from all that leering. It's not all a one-way street, baby.

On a completely different topic, it's almost completely impossible to get into our office lobby nowadays without falling over a "Communique" sign. It's a big standing sign from the good people at Suntec management, urging us to look at their COMMUNIQUE which will be sent to us, and which also can be accessed by the internet. That's great. I've expanded my vocabulary whilst bruising my shin.

Just yesterday morning, an additional sign was posted near the entrance to the 6 lifts that serve the higher floors which actually block access to the lift. I doubt the fire safety rules factored into the decision making process about where that sign should go. You actually have to veer off to the side to get around it and into the lift. And what does it say? It's a message to read another message. If I get to the website, will it tell me where to go for the next message?

As dense as I can be, I'm starting to get it. The Communique should just say "GET OUT. DON'T COME BACK TILL THE IMF MEETINGS ARE OVER. OH - DON'T FORGET TO PAY YOUR RENT."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My Friend is a Philanthropist

I received an invitation to an engagement party yesterday. Want Want is getting married.

So yeah. The next time I find myself with a little bit of friendly advice to dispense, I'm just going to keep it to myself.

A friend kindly offered to go with me this Saturday for the engagement party. Why, I asked. Well, you told me she's okay looking right. So she might have cute friends. I can help you to get back at her by screwing them.

Is that amazing or what? Which just goes to show how wonderful the English vocabulary is. There is always a bunch of words you can use to justify every single thing. Dude is telling me he is not in this for a quick lay. Because we are such great friends, he is willing to allow his body - his temple - to be used as a device for a random number of unknown women to achieve orgasmic relief. Just so that I'd somehow feel a little better about a friend of mine marrying a gold digger.

For the sake of our friendship, he's willing to sacrifice the time that his penis would otherwise be spending in his pants. He's willing to give up all that sperm that his body has spent time and effort producing. Instead of using that sperm to doodle his name on the ceiling of his bedroom, I mean. He's got a very long name - I'm talking about A LOT of sperm here. I don't know if it's customary to include your hanyu pinyin name in these inscriptions, but anyway I digress.

So can you blame me for getting teary at this point?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Day My Head Exploded

Was having dinner last evening with a client who has also become a friend and he mentioned that I sounded kinda muffled when we spoke on Friday. Also very distracted. Which is true. When he called, I was temporarily out of my mind with rage, and it took all I had to answer the phone like nothing was happening.

Water had been dripping from my office ceiling for 3 days. Now that's something you don't see every day in an office building. Sometimes gushing, sometimes just fat noisy drops, always from the same part of the air conditioning unit. It's just a happy coincidence that it wasn't dripping on my head or on my desk. Whilst asking my secretary to call the contractor to fix it, I got an aluminium tray and placed it on the floor below the drip, squarely blocking off my access from desk to door.

To cut a long and painful drama short, a series of "wrong contractors" trooped into my office, got on top of their ladders, made sympathetic noises and told me they were not the right contractors to fix the problem. In the meantime, I managed to fall over the tray twice, once when it was full thereby drenching my feet and shoes and personal belongings. After 3 days, I stormed out of my room in wet shoes and asked my secretary where the fuck is the contractor, only to have her look at me like I was losing it completely and why am I making so much noise over a small thing. I managed to get her to follow me into my office, a place I like to think she visits at least once a day, to look at the problem. She sees a drenched rug, a tray full of water, my wet shoes, wet papers, wet computer disks, follows my stony glare up to the ceiling where water is still dripping incessantly.

Oh! It's dripping!

If the contractors hadn't arrived that very minute, I might have had a heart attack. They covered my files, desk and shelves with tarp and proceeded to deal with the leak whilst I sat there at the computer, trying to work. Bits of insulation and ceiling board drifted down, together with some interesting metal bits and lots of dust. Secretary walked off.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Yeah. I'm Fabulous.

The model arrived late, had buck teeth and a boyfriend who sat behind all of us watching morosely while picking at his zits. We started shooting and after a while we did manage to get our rhythm although it still felt strange to be the only female photographer present aside from the teacher (who was not shooting).

I looked at the photos today and they needed work. Some samples are uploaded onto flickr (they don't seem to work here) and I think these should be acceptable. The model has asked us to burn them into a CD for her and I do hope she will be happy with these. I do not think she will notice that I have changed her skin colour entirely, or that most of the selected shots are taken from one particular angle. If I had some time with Photoshop (and some skill), I'd take out the eyebags, reduce the level of eyeliner, remove the crusty mascara bits and delete that nail colour but anyway, that's just me.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Today is the day

Am getting all geared up for my very first model shoot. Having ignored my suggestion that we just get my son to be the model for today's studio shoot, we are still going to go with a conventional female model. Have received a number of enquiries today as to whether she will be nude. She will not be nude. She'll be wearing tight clothes, and so will look no different from the next woman on the street wearing tight clothes.

Am going to suggest today (whilst inciting the hatred of the 10 men in my class) that we get a male model for next week's class. After all, they're likely to be cheaper. Or we could get a more experienced male model for the same price. Or he could pose nude. Frankly I don't care. My main purpose of signing up for this class was to learn how to shoot photos of my son under studio lights. And possibly to arrange for him to be a model in one of the classes so I'd have about 900 photos of my son taken by different photographers, some of whom could well be semi-professional. Now that my evil plans have failed, I'm determined to scuttle someone else's evil plans to get up close and personal to a real female model.

Maybe I'm just homophobic. The idea of hovering around some strange woman dressed in tight clothes for 2 hours and under baking hot studio lights, asking her to "work it, baby", just does not appeal. I've flirted with the girl with girl idea - convent girl, sick bay and some other things I shouldn't mention - but it's just not for me.

Am off.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Saddest Job on Earth

Have just come back from an insurance-company sponsored medical checkup at Mt. E and it's possible to say that the most unrewarding job on this planet would be the one held by the person who goes from clinic to clinic taking blood samples.

Now that's someone whose well of sympathy is bone dry and dusty, with tumbleweed. I don't believe she even carries around tissues anymore for people who go into hysterics because they're afraid of needles, assuming she ever did.

A good day for this woman is taking blood from a bunch of random people who just grit their teeth and shut up. A bad day for this woman is ... probably today, for reasons I'd rather not go into right now. All I can say is if I were in her position I'd have at least tried to pretend to show sympathy. And for the record, the phrase "Can someone please hold her arm still I don't want the needle to break" is not a sympathetic remark.

Global Best Practices

I'd like to think that a fair part of my life has been spent doing something that will, ultimately, leave behind more than just piles of paper in little manila files which will be incinerated after 8 years.

Dream on, woman.

But one thing that I have achieved, which I will now set down in writing (and free!) for the Good of All Mankind, is the knowledge of the Global Best Practices in Twix. Twix chocolate bars, one of the products of the good corporate citizen Mars, Inc. I have accumulated a good many years of experience in Twix and I can now safely say that I could be THE leading global authority on Twix. All your burning questions re Twix will be answered right here, right now.

Question 1: What is the difference between Twix bars in US and UK?

Twix bars sold in the US are far too sweet. A mouthful of sugar with every bite, or as my Math teacher used to say when reading our answer scrips, "Stops your heart first thing in the morning". The cookie and the caramel are also not cohesive - the taste does not meld together with the chocolate into one delightful crescendo in your mouth. It's as though all the separate ingredients are calling out "Look at me! Look at me!", and your tongue gets all confused. Kind of like drinking tea and coca-cola all at the same time. There is also a slight hint of puke flavour which sometimes happens when you put together too many dairy ingredients into 1 product.

The UK Twix, on the other hand, is a masterpiece of construction. The cookie, caramel and chocolate flavours blend harmoniously on the palate. Nibbled separately, they taste only passable but somehow everything just works wonderfully when you're chewing them together. It's a modern day miracle! Personally I find it incredibly difficult to eat the UK Twix mini-bar because I just end up with a table full of open wrappers and chocolate crumbs that I have to sweep into the dustbin. It's much less disruptive to work flow (typing, reading, telephone) if I just go straight for the regular sized bar and finish that.

Once during a long car trip from London to SomeSmallTown, we were down to a couple of Twix bars belonging to a travel companion that she simply refused to share. Not even a single bite. Things almost got ugly and I told myself it would never happen to me again. Or if it did, I'll be the one holding the Twix bar with Twix all over my face and hands, refusing to share with anyone.

Question 2: Why is Twix not popular in Singapore?

The answer to that is almost self-explanatory. You can buy Twix anywhere in Singapore - in the petrol station, any supermarket, even at the mama store. But nobody wants to. The answer is simple. Just try a Twix bar purchased in Singapore. Did the chocolate crumble in your mouth and in your hands? Do you have dry chocolate crumbs all over your lap? Did the caramel taste like sick-up? Did the cookie bend or break? and then crumble? Do you now wish you spent that dollar on a Hershey bar?

Question 3: What is the best Twix on Earth?

It's a close fight between European Twix and UK Twix. Both are creamy, not too sweet and the taste blends marvelously in your mouth (I am allowed to repeat myself - it's my blog). Right now I can't decide. If I ever do, you'll be the first to know.

Question 4: Have you given any thought to providing this valuable feedback to the Mars corporation?

Yes, I sent them a complaint letter in 1997, with my detailed views per above and on the disappointing cream content of their made-for-Singapore Twix bars which are actually manufactured in Australia. They responded with a very nice letter (which I still have somewhere) which mentioned a hamper of Mars products coming my way. Unfortunately this was never received. I believe they did send it, but it may have been, uh, intercepted by the receptionists of a previous firm. Although I've held the grudge up till now (her name is Leslie and I'm sure she's still got the extra hip fat from eating my chocolates), I've never really been all that upset about it because upon further consideration, it would've meant that I'd just be eating more crumbly Singapore Twix bars (accompanied by a moral obligation to finish them since they were a gift from that nice company).

Final Question: Aside from Twix, what else is good?

Lion bars. UK Lion bars. A friend back from London once misunderstood my repeated requests for TWIX TWIX TWIX and bought me Lion bars. I was very angry until I ate one of the Lion bars and was pleasantly surprised. The only difference between a Lion bar and a Twix is that the cookie is replaced with rice crispies. The result is a lighter, fluffier taste, less sweet, but without the oomph that the cookie imparts to the palate. Like sipping Pepsi when you're expecting Coke - your taste buds are looking for that extra taste-note at the end which is just not there. But it's still satisfying.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Here's a big fat hint: I'm holding the camera.

Monday Morning - Unexpected Happy News!

There was much internal bitching this morning as I contemplated how on earth I was going to get to work during the 10 days when Suntec becomes the most protected patch of concrete and grass in Singapore. Also how there's going to be any client meetings at all (here or at the client's office) seeing as how there's not going to be much coming or going unless the client is an IMF delegate (unlikely).

Then a citrus burst of happiness in my tiny little heart when I read this email from my photography class teacher. "PSS is invited to exhibit 15 works at the APEC in Vietnam. I have chosen the attached pix done by you for the exhibition. Pls let me know if you are agreeable."

It's a photo I took whilst feeding mosquitoes at the Riverside Mall car park (top floor, step onto the ledge and lean out like you don't value your life). I couldn't write back fast enough. Definitely! Use it in any way you think appropriate! Just use it!

Have borrowed a 105mm macro lens from my former tuition student in anticipation of the studio class this Thursday. He says if this doesn't guarantee a reflection of my camera, my face, hair and even my watch appearing in the model's eyes, then nothing will.

Am still reeling from the after-effects of my last studio class (fodder for the next post) but suffice to say that we were each used as illustrations for different facial flaws.

Post-script: Was just informed by a male friend that he couldn't give a rat's ass whether my image appears in the model's eye or not - What he'd like to know is what he can do so that he'd be able to see a reflection of his tented underpants in the model's eye.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A completely unexpected laugh on a Friday evening

Just sent an email to a client and received this Autoreply:

"Hi & thanks for your message. Because I'm currently enjoying a long weekend, I'm not in the office today (14 August 2006). I'll respond to your message when I return tomorrow. If your query is so urgent that your head will explode before tomorrow, please contact __________"

So yeah. There's snot on my computer screen and therefore less for me to swallow but Goddamn that's way cool.

Dews (sniff)

Hab been thick ad it's been a bad week. In person I look like a trainwreck but at least on the internet no one can hear you sucking back snot.

Went for my 2nd studio lighting class last evening and had a great time... until we were each hauled up one by one to sit under the lights as living breathing cringing mannequins. 11 students and 1 teacher watched as I struggled to get a good perch on the high stool, then got every pore on my face lit up by front lights, spotlights, backlights, accent lights and then a huge softbox right on top. In the middle of all the excitement and the lighting frenzy, my shoe slipped off a dangling foot and fell a long long way to the floor. Then the teacher asked me to sit up straight and for a second I couldn't remember if I was 6 or 21 years old.

Next week, we will have a real live model in tight skimpy clothes prancing around on the same spot. By the looks of the selected shots from the previous class, our model picker likes them tall, Chinese and a little bit slutty looking. This should go down well in a class of 10 men and 2 women.

Have received a number of enquiries from well-meaning guy friends who, according to them, are also interested in pursuing knowledge in photography. Except that by "knowledge in photography" I actually mean "knowledge of the model's phone number and firsthand knowledge of her underwear size".

Also found out rather belatedly that I bought my 2nd hand Nikon from A Rather Famous Man. Like, the Anna Wintour of Singapore. Found out today whilst leafing through Her World. Could they have featured more photographs of him. I think not. For a really famous person, he is really nice, and this is even before my cheque cleared.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Last Sunday, The Son went to my mother's place to chill and bumped into his aunties and uncles. Nothing doing, except that his auntie is 4 years old, and his uncles are 7 and 8 years old. A noisier, rowdier bunch of three I've never seen. Coming from a household where the loudest thing in the house is the television set (and even so, only when his father is watching TV), I fully expected The Son to experience major culture shock and the attending withdrawal symptoms (crying, clinginess and a general desire to relocate to someplace quieter).

By way of an example, when I told them to keep quiet because "the baby is sleeepinggg", 2 out of 3 shouted "KEEP QUIET!!! THE BABY IS SLEEPING!!!!" to the others. And if that didn't wake him, they proceeded to stand around touching and patting his little baby arms and face. Sigh.

Although the little baby mouth did start to turn down initially, he got used to them almost immediately after he woke up. Towards the end of the evening, he stood in the middle of my mother's living room, watching:

1. One uncle bash another uncle on the head with a wooden hammer;
2. The other uncle refusing to share his ice cream; and
3. One auntie running around screaming and crying at the top of her lungs trying to avoid her flu injection,

and he smiled. A little baby schadenfreude smile. Like, wow, 3 people are being scolded right now and none of them is me! I'm the best!

The photo above is The Son at Centrepoint, watching his father "crying" after The Son kicked him in the face or something like that. We thought it might teach him sympathy if he saw the consequences of his action.

I've looked at that photo very carefully, and have to admit I cannot find a single molecule or pixel of sympathy. His expression is more like "Wow, looks like the old guy's pretty upset. I wonder what's gotten into him."

Monday, August 07, 2006

Forgot there was one more thing

In the whole Grew Up In The 80's thing, I forgot one more item which probably applies to all of us who went to missionary schools (no jokes please) of the Catholic denomination.

We would cross ourselves whenever we heard sirens. It didn't matter if it was from a fire engine, an ambulance, a police car or any other siren sound-making device, and it probably started with some of the nuns that taught us, but effectively the entire class of 42 little girls would stop whatever they were doing at that moment and cross themselves whenever sirens were heard.

It was a minor form of superstition because to us, a siren means that someone is in trouble and could be dying. So we have to cross ourselves for their sake. One cross per siren. Which could be incredibly disruptive when you have a major incident somewhere and a police car passes by followed immediately by a fire truck and an ambulance. There's a flurry of activity and hands are whisking everywhere to touch little foreheads and shoulders and chests.

What are you all doing? Can you please stop it? Said a teacher who obviously did not share the same sensibilities.

That, and all of skipping every 13th step of every staircase that we walked down. We were not alone in this - I recall for a while some buildings actually skipped the 13th floor. They'd call it the 14th floor or something. So the buttons in the lift wouldn't have a button for 13 and people wouldn't have to feel uncomfortable with the idea of such an unlucky floor existing in their building. What a bunch of freaking oddballs we all used to be.

Plus all the ground floors used to be "G", and the first floor after that would be "1". Because G denoted that the floor was on the GROUND, whereas the first floor had to be 1 storey up.

What are you all doing? Can you please stop it? Said the Building Control Authority.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Omigod I love this

Just saw this on Kierra's blog, and the subject matter is How You Know You Grew Up in the 1980s in Singapore. Loved it.

1. You grew up watching He-man, Transformers, Silverhawk, Ultraman, Super Friends, Woody WoodPecker, Tom & Jerry, Care Bears, My Little Pony, Smurfs and Mickey Mouse. Not to forget, maybe Ninja turtles too.

2. You grew up brushing your teeth with a mug in primary school during recess time. You would squat by a drain with all your classmates beside you, and brush your teeth with a colored mug. The teachers said you must brush each side ten times. Not forgetting the silly red tablet which you know not the purpose for.

3. You know what SBC stands for.

(I think I still call it SBC.)

4. You know in school, you could subscribe to get the milk which would come before you go back home. Some days you would get chocolate milk, other days strawberry. The old Magnolia fresh milk came in a triangular packet.

5. You were there when the first Chinese serial, The Awakening was shown on TV.

6. Everyone in class would tremble in fear when someone with a gauze stuck in the mouth came to your class and called out a name to go visit the school dentist.

7. You find your friends with pagers and handphone cool in secondary school.

(Actually I find such friends nonexistent)

8. SBS buses used to be non-airconditioned. The bus seats were made of wood and the cushion was red. The big red bell gave a loud BEEEP when pressed. There were colorful tickets for CSS buses. The conductor would check tickets using a machine that punched a hole in each ticket. All SBS buses used to be manually operated, with a gigantic gearstick to the left of the driver.

9. Your favorite actor and actress were Huang Wenyong and Xiang Yun. Next were Li Nanxing and Zoe Tay and the Aiyoyo woman (Chen Liping).

(That was when Chen Liping was actually hot)

10. You’ve probably read Young Generation magazine. You know who’s Vinny the Little Vampire and Constable Acai. For some, cikgu will always ask to buy the “Dewan Bahasa” magazine.

11. You were there when they first introduced MRT here (Yio Chu Kang to Toa Payoh). You went for the first ride with your parents and you would kneel on the seat to see the scenery.

(Sorry. I was older than that.)

12. Movie tickets used to cost only $3.50. Tickets were scrawled across using big red pencils. Ushers brought you into the cinemas using big metallic torchlights.

(They were actually S$2.50)

13. Gals were fascinated by Strawberry Short Cake and Barbie Dolls. You also collected sticker books of Street Fighter, The Semi-Pro Soccer League (for boys) and care bears (for girls) by Panini, trying to complete the impossible task of filling up each sticker book.

14. You remember some taxis were green in color. Taxis had gearsticks behind the steering wheel, with a transparent knob and little colorful flowers inside the knobs.

15. You longed to buy tidbits called Kaka (20 cents per pack), and Ding Dang (50 cents per box), that had a toy in it and it changes every week. Not forgetting the 15-cent animal crackers and the ringpop, where the lollipop is the diamond on the ring.


16. You watched TV2 (also known as Channel 10) cartoons because Channel 5 never had enough cartoons for you.

17. All that you know about Cantonese is from the Hong Kong serials you watched on TV2. You probably would remember George Lam as the moustached man whose line was “Are you OK?” in the Guiness Stout Advertisement.

18. You grew up reading ladybird books. Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Three Investigators, Famous Five and Secret Seven were probably the thickest story books you ever thought you had. Even Sweet Valley High and Malory Towers. You also love Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood, Magic Faraway tree…

19. The only food you bought from McDonalds was the fish fillet burger and French fries as it wasn’t halal back then and your parents didn’t allow you to buy other stuff.

20. KFC used to be a high class place that let you use metal forks and knives.

21. The most vulgar thing you said was “asshole” and “idiot”… you just couldn’t bring yourself to say the Hokkien relative.

22. Catching was the “in” thing (a.k.a. Police and Thief) and twist or “choap” was the magic word. For those who always frequented the void decks, there was the “rumah dayak”, Octopus and “Goli Duit”.

(Five stones)

23. Your English workbook was made of some poor quality paper that was smooth and yellow. And the textbooks were striped in different colors for different levels.

24. Some part of your school was ALWAYS haunted, like the toilet or clock tower or a certain block. You walk fast to avoid them.

25. The only computer lessons in school involved funny pixel characters in 16 colors walking about trying to teach you math. You printed with noisy dot matrix printers and used computer paper with two rows of holes at the sides. Mouse? What’s that?

26. Waterbottles, with your favorite cartoon character on it, were slung around your neck and a must everywhere you go.

27. Boys loved to play soccer with small tennis balls in the basketball court.

28. Hopscotch, five stones, chapteh and zero point were all the rage with the girls and boys too… Remember 5 times, highest, one-inch…

28. Science was fun with the balsam and the angsana being the most important plants of our lives. Remember the “Young Scientist” badge you got when you completed the set of tasks in written on the blue booklet for “Young Ecologist”, “Young Botanist”, etc? The first excursion to the Science Centre was the best day of your life.

29. Who could forget Ahmad, Bala, Gopal, Sumei, Peihua and John, eternalised in the textbooks. Even Mr. Wolly, Mr. Yakki.

31. You did stupid exercises like seal crawl and frog jumps.

32. Every Children’s Day and National Day you either get pencils or pens printed with “Happy Children’s Day 1983″ or dumb files printed with “Happy National Day 1984″.

33. In Primary Six you had to play buddy for the younger kids like big sister and brother.

34. There was an ACES day where you would get this stupid hat and do the Great Singapore Workout.

35. The Scouts used to wear shorts, and the NCC uniform was a plain green color without camouflage.

36. The worksheets were made of rough brown paper of poor quality. During art and craft classes, you had to make your own art folio using a vanguard sheet.

37. You went to school in slippers and a raincoat when it rained, and you find a dry spot in the school to sit and wipe yourself dry. Then you wear your dry and warm socks and shoes.

38. During National Day, you would have to do and decorate your own shakers, usually using a cassette tape container, or an empty aluminium can with green beans inside all taped up and decorated with white and red paper. Who can forget the all-time favorite recorder you played during music lessons?

39. After exams, you brought Game & Watch to school, and played card games like “Snap”, “Donkey” and “Old Maid”. You also played pick-up sticks and Snakes & Ladders and the aeroplane board game. Those erasers with the flags were also a popular game. Either that or you would play those cards comparing aeroplanes, warships, or tanks - who had more firepower or speed or weight, etc.

40. You remember your uncles, big brothers and father screaming and shouting in front of the TV when the Singapore soccer team (always in blue jerseys) played against the Malaysians.

41. Your friends considered you lucky and rich if your parents gave you $3 or more for pocket money everyday.

42. During class gatherings, parents always tag along in case someone gets lost at Orchard Road.
43. You freak out when the teacher tells you to line up according to height and hold hands with the corresponding boy or girl.

44. Handkerchieves were a must for both genders

45. Collecting notebooks, erasers and all kinds of stationery was a popular thing. The bookshop was a favorite place to go to get all those stuff during recess.

46. Autograph books were loaded with “Best Wishes”, “Forget Me Not”, and little poems like “Birds fly high, hard to catch. Friends like you, hard to forget”.

47. Class monitors and prefects loved to say “You talk somemore, I write your name ah!”

48. You remember songs sung by a huge group of people, like 4U2C, Feminin, Nico (Malay) and the English “We Are The World”. In secondary school, you listened to Bananarama, Jason Donavan, Kylie Minogue, New Kids on the Block, ABBA, and Tommy Page (Remember “A Shoulder to Cry On“?)

49. Large, colorful schoolbags were carried. And fanciful pencil cases with lots of small tiny drawers, trays, sharpener or thermometer that pop out at the push of a button were the “in” thing.

50. You brought every single book to school, even though there was one thing called the timetable, written on the inside cover of your little blue notebook.

It's a Guy Thing

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that trite phrase, I'd have far less financial concerns than I do now. Lately it seems to be the standard response for all types of questions, like:

1. Why can't we just ask for directions? (Lost in a shopping centre)

2. Why don't you like [some young guy]? (In reference to a friend who is popular with the ladies)

3. Why don't you like that shirt I bought you? (In reference to green plaid)

4. Why won't men taste their own sperm? (New thought that came into my head while commenting on LMD's blog. Heh. Little pun there.).

What exactly is A Guy Thing? It's almost as though a man will completely refuse to analyse the situation, instead preferring to use a general, and generally vague, phrase to describe a general, and generally vague, feeling of unease or discomfort. Women on the other hand (speaking for myself) are more likely to give a blunt and detailed response, with background information explained, human dynamics explained and finally concluding with a short sharp conclusion and summary of findings. Then they will pause to let the audience have an opportunity to ask questions. Like:

Question: Why don't you like [some young girl]?
Answer: Well, to begin with, she's a fugly bitch. She puts on so much makeup that she looks good from far, but up close, she's far from good. I've also known her, or to be more specific since we were never friends, I've known about her for more than 10 years now. We met in school. She was thin in first year, and then in second year, she must have eaten a Back Street Boy because will you just look at her now. Also, when we were in third year .....

Most times when I'm done, there are no questions because the audience has usually obtained all the information they need and could possibly need. See?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Last Seminar, and other happy tales

Gave my last seminar this morning. No more after this, unless I am compelled by The Boss. Enough said. No more previous day stress, no more being chased upside down to submit my presentation slides 1 week before, no more waking up at 5 am in a cold sweat to go through my presentation one more time, no more being asked crazy insane questions, no more having to tell people that, no, I'm not an employee of the seminar organiser, DID YOU NOT SEE OUR COMPANY'S NAME ON EVERY SINGLE SLIDE AS WELL AS MY NAMECARD AS WELL AS OUR BANNERS OUTSIDE ARE YOU BLIND?


Back to Dorothy. Whoever is her employer now, they should damn well know they have a gem. I blew something like S$22,000 on clothes in 3 trips to her store. This is not money I could afford to pay. This is more money than some people spend on an effing house, for goodness sake. I'm sure in some parts of Africa this is their GDP or something like that. Do I look like a person that would blow S$22k on clothes? No. But why did I do it? I have no clue. Possibly because it's Dorothy we're talking about here, not some random salesperson.

Back to the dressing room. I tried on the one single outfit my mom had bought, and stepped out for fittings. She pinned everything to fit and sends me back into the dressing room. Then squee ... squee ... squee... a rack of beautiful clothes, all exactly my size, is pulled up outside my dressing room, like an overloaded delivery truck.

Dear? I've selected some clothes that I thought you might like. These just came in 2 days ago, and we've set them aside for previews by some of our good customers. Why don't you try this top with this pants and this jacket, and then come out and let me see?

So beautiful. You look just like your mother (wtf?). This really shows off your figure. I think you can wear this to the office, and then if you take off the jacket and pair the suit with this other top here, you can go out for drinks, or even to a wedding dinner. You want to see some evening gowns?

This is an Ungaro evening gown - we haven't put it on display yet because the whole collection has been reserved by 2 of our customers. But I don't think they can wear this one - it's very young, very refreshing. Actually it goes very well with this pair of Jimmy Choos - you see how the snakeskin adds texture?

For Gremlin: You want a formal evening dress right, but nothing too long. We have this ... and this... and this....

For Stace: You want more suits right? Conservative dark colours? We have this ... and this... and this....

For every pashmina, there was a matching designer evening gown and Jimmy Choos. When we were done choosing clothes, they had house perfumes (exclusive! you can't find this elsewhere!), brooches (let me show you the different ways to pin this), lingerie and even floral arrangements (in case you have an important client that you want to impress. Just call me.)

And the kicker? The thing that makes you keep coming back?

All the alterations are free. If you have to shrink a size L suit into an XS, even if you have to shorten the sleeves, shorten the pants, shorten the crotch, reduce the width of the back, the waist, the collar is too big, tummy allowance too small, whatever. BUT YOU NEED TO COME BACK TO PICK IT UP. And when you come back, you're trying on 5 outfits that you've already paid for with money you don't have, you hear.... squee.... squee.... squee.... Dear?

I'd still be going back to pick up my outfits now, if I hadn't gone to pick up the last lot on a day that she was on leave. Even then, I'd get a call within the next few weeks about some new collection or the other. She knows my weakness for dark tailored suits and long empire waisted evening gowns. She knows I like my iridescent snakeskin Jimmy Choos at least 2 inches high. I am powerless. I am a pawn with a rechargeable credit card. When Glamourette closed down, I was a little sad but relieved. The prospect of solvency is quite enticing.

Anyway, she's back. Now she will bring the clothes in a trunk to my house. I don't even have to step out the door or even change out of my Pokemon tee shirt. She accepts cheques (I trust you, dear), alterations are free, she'll bring the clothes back after they're altered (let me show you what else I have brought) and, here's the kicker, if I have any suits or clothes that I can't wear anymore (due to the post-pregnancy gut), she will alter them until they fit beautifully, and bring them back to my house. For a fee.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dorothy Is Back.

All through my pre-teens and my early teens I used to spend hours dying of boredom at various boutiques whilst my mother tried on dresses, pants, tops, shirts, blouses, whatever, and surrounded by an entourage of simpering salespeople. Through the self-absorbed pre-teen fog I noticed that most of the boredom was spent at 2 boutiques in particular, namely "Man And His Woman" and "Glamourette".

Glamourette was preferred because it had a white leather sofa and the staff once gave me a glass of Ribena Perrier. When my fidgeting and boredom threatened to distract my mother, they gave me full access to a cupboard full of Karl Lagerfeld watches, still in their original boxed casing, so that I could play blocks. A 9-year old. Playing with blocks. That's entertainment for you.

Then for some obscure reason (divorce, single mother with 3 kids), my mother stopped going to any boutiques at all and I came into my late 20s without interfacing again with Karl Lagerfeld-inspired blocks. Then 1 fine day, my mother gives me a deep blue lycra wrap top with fitted hoodie, so deviously put together that I need directions to put it on and it comes with a perfectly matched set of translucent white capri pants. That didn't fit. How the f am I going to wear this.

Take it to Dorothy at Glamourette, she said. Tell her that I sent you. Dorothy will take care of you.

So I'm supposed to walk into what I realise is one of the most expensive boutiques in town and look for a Dorothy? And then what?

Just go, said the mother.

So one day when my office was shifting premises and they had taken away my files, my telephone and finally my computer, thus making it truly impossible to get any work done, I stomped off in a huff to Glamourette.

I got exactly what I expected - after lurking around forever looking at super expensive tops, shirts, jeans, etc. I finally get a salewoman's attention and I ask for Dorothy. She points out an older woman who is engaged with a customer then wanders off and everyone seems very preoccupied until I say I am Dr Chan's daughter.


Suddenly, I am In like Flynn. I am the cat's pajamas. The bee's knees. Best thing since the white bread. Dorothy gives me a hug and kiss on both cheeks while leading me to a dressing room, taking out the clothes from my bag and asking someone to get me some water. There is the white leather sofa again, looking very very white despite the fact that almost 20 years have passed. I am "Dear", and I am inside a huge dressing room with a range of high heeled shoes (to match the outfits being tried on), a small sofa (to rest - trying on clothes is tiring stuff) and soft, warm, flattering yellow light everywhere.

Ok. The allotted 20 minutes for a blog entry are up. Till next time.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Something Terrible This Way Comes

I think the Terrible Twos have started, and we are not even 1.5 yet! The Son throws the most elaborate tantrums now, some of them for no particular reason, and there is really no end to the constant head shaking (accompanied by whole body shaking). Do you want milk? No. Do you want food? No. Do you want to play with Mama? No no no no.

This morning, the door stopper could not be removed from the wall (it's screwed down) and some people threw a blind fit, with the crying and the falling down whilst crying, and the smacking of the bad door stopper, and the increased volume of crying. I read my paper and drank the coffee until he realised there was no attention being paid and then he comes charging over and pulls the paper away to cry for an audience. This is why I am about 60% news-free today. Never got beyond the Natsteel proxy fight, or whatever that was.

Then the Preferred Parent came into the room and there were rainbows and smiles and people were laughing and playing and behaving like good little boys. I felt like there was a little sign above my head, like a detergent label, that said "Mama - Now with 50% less fun".

In other news, his pre-molars have arrived but we still cannot get him to brush his teeth. This is not good.