Monday, January 19, 2009


So Chinese New Year is coming around again, and I wish my problems were a little bit more mundane, like worrying about relatives who ask me when am I going to have my third child (can't! am still working on the 2nd one!) or how much to put into the ang pows this year (actually, everyone is only getting S$2 regardless of age, sex and how inclined I might be feeling about them).

The problem is I don't actually know my relatives' names. I have a stack of relatives on my mother's side who are all Ah This and Ah That, but that's not really the name on their NRIC or birth certificate. In fact, some of them are working in the Central Business District too, and I could well have dealings with them at work, but how the hell would I know, since "Ah Ter" and "Ah Kow" do not appear as part of their email addresses. Some of them have more elaborate names, like Youngest Uncle, Number Three Aunt and Seventh Sibling of My Grandfather. These titles are even less helpful to me in deciphering their real names.

Of course asking them for their names, namecards or passports could be an option at this point, but I believe some of them may already suspect that I don't know their names, ever since one of them got married, invited me to his wedding, and I walked right past him at the reception after just saying "hi!". Actually I had him confused with another relative when I received the wedding invitation, one whom I believed at that point in time was already married with children.

His sister's wedding is coming up in 2 days' time. At least, I think it is his sister who is getting married. As always, I will greet everyone with "hi!" and hope for the best.

I know at least 1 person who might read this post will suggest that I kill them all and read their names off the obituaries. THAT'S NOT HELPFUL.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Year Resolutions 2009

So the first resolution of the New Year will be that we will not be taking on any more 16-year old interns. No more. It's official, I'm cynical now.

The 2 16-year old guys that we accepted late last year were well-behaved for the first 24 hours. I believe I got some decent work out of them. For the rest of that week, they were ... less so. At one point, they locked the 21-year old intern out of her office. Then they went through her phone and sent text messages to her boyfriend. They also shredded a tonne of rough paper and stuffed it into her drawers and handbag. I think the only thing they didn't do was jack off in her office mug. Well, at least I hope they didn't do that.

And that's what they did to just one person in our office. I won't elaborate on what happened to the rest. Suffice to say that at some point, I heard the office manager screaming.

After that, we instituted a policy that we will not accept more than one 16-year old intern at a time, in the mistaken belief that one 16-year old by itself will actually behave. So we just had a 16-year old female intern for 2 weeks. She behaved herself for the duration of her stay, and only arrived once in casual party-wear. Then (at her request) I arranged for her to spend some time in another law firm where they handle high-end criminal work, so that she could have a more well-rounded experience and probably get in on some really interesting cases.

She didn't show up on her first day.

She showed up on her second day and asked to be paid for her internship. I'm not sure why she did that, since we didn't pay her either.

She didn't show up on her third day. In her view, if she was not going to be paid by the law firm for the opportunity to sit in on some meetings and court hearings, then she wasn't going to waste any more of her time, which could otherwise be spent sitting at home, chatting on the phone, shopping or watching movies.

I can't believe I actually called the head of their criminal department myself to ask him, as a favour to me, to take in this 16-year old intern for 1 month, and to make sure she learns something interesting. What the hell. I am embarrassed. I need to send him something really nice as a gift. I have no more credibility. He must think I am some dumbass.

Under the Children & Young Persons Act, we are restricted from hiring or employing anyone younger than 16 years. I think they should extend it to include 16 year olds. It's not to protect young people from being exploited - it's to prevent employers from being exploited. Also to prevent employers from killing them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Singapore Chicken Soup for the Soul

One of my ex-colleagues told me a story the other day that was so incredibly moving I just have to share it.

Especially since I have just made the incredibly difficult decision not to share the 10 coconut mochi and 10 tapioca cakes that I bought from that rather well-reputed stall in Maxwell Market.

There isn't enough to go around for everyone in my office, although it is far too much for 1 person to eat. Just to make sure that no one feels left out, I'm going to force myself to eat it all.

But anyway. So my ex-colleague is in the office through the Christmas season and her supervisor shows up one morning with 4 mince pies. I don't know what a mince pie is, but apparently it is a sweet pie about 2 - 3 inches in diameter and reasonably popular with the British. Her supervisor sets the mince pies on my colleague's desk and asks her to share these mince pies with "everyone around". Unfortunately, the immediate vicinity comprised not less than 10 adult persons.

"How should I divide this up" asked my colleague.

"Why don't you cut the pies up", suggested her supervisor. "I'm sure no one can finish 1 pie by themselves. Just cut each one up into 4 pieces, and share it out with everyone in this section."

My colleague recalled to her supervisor a similar incident in the past when she had, at the request of the same individual, patiently cubed a few tiny pastries for an audience much larger than the baker intended. Unfortunately, it left her with a desk of unappetizing crumbly shapeless mini-pastries which everyone rejected, leaving her with a pile of crumbs and flakes.

All right, said the supervisor. Please give the mince pies to the following individuals, A, B and C. You can keep one for yourself.

Ten minutes later, she gets called into the supervisor's room. Supervisor has just received a surprise Christmas gift from persons D and E, who work on a different floor. In front of D and E, supervisor asks her, didn't I give you some mince pies to distribute to everyone? Did you give some to D and E?

I think this is proper justification for my eating everything myself don't you think.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Microwave Disaster Traced Back To Local Woman's Inability To Distinguish Between One Minute and Nine Minutes

Office microwaves should be banned. They encourage people who would otherwise not interface with these complex non-intuitive and office harmony-destroying machines to lull themselves into the false hope that they can heat up their own food.

Following previous incidents, I am dismayed to discover that my colleagues will literally sneak up to the microwave after I have pressed the start button and returned to my office, to re-plate or re-utensilise whatever it is I have placed inside the microwave oven. I just tried to heat up my home cooked American-style mac and cheese, only to return some time later to see that the bowl that I use has now been covered by a plate, the food appears to have been redistributed in the bowl to increase surface area and the timing for the microwave has been shortened. I look around the office, but can't see who it is who did all this since no one is making eye contact.

Am starting to wonder if my anonymous Christmas gift from the office (a bowl specifically suited for use in the microwave oven) was supposed to mean something more than "hope you have a merry Christmas".

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I Can't Believe It's Not Margarine !

This is how The Husband describes my taste in music, using an insult so veiled and obscure that I need a degree in English Literature and some guidance from the author just to figure out what he means.

And all because on some days when I'm feeling a little bit maudlin, I like to listen to the not-so-obscure hits of John Ford Coley and England Dan (Just Tell Me You Love Me), Stephen Bishop (It Might Be You) and John Denver (You Fill Up My Senses). Also Joni Mitchell (Night Ride Home), which he simply refers to as "Now With 50% More Oestrogen". Finally, that rather hard-to-find hit by John Barry (The Music of Goodbye).

I've tried listening to some of the astoundingly unknown goth songs that he favours but the frequency of the drumbeat and the shrieking and moaning makes my fillings hurt. Also, if you cannot find it on Youtube, I believe it may not actually exist outside of one's head.

We've settled for the unhappy compromise of random compilations from That CD Shop which plays on a loop in the family car and pleases no one in particular, as evidenced by the constant fast forwarding and eventual switching to BBC ("Yesterday's News, Today!").

He particularly dislikes my compilation of songs used in popular advertisements. What could possibly be wrong with that?!

Surely there's been a mistake here

So for the past 4 weeks I have against my will been adhering very strictly to the Newborn Infant Overnight Breastfeeding Timetable.

Which is to say I will start nodding off at 10pm, find myself awake at 2am (E@L: Do you mean 2am in the morning?) fall back asleep at 3.30am and wake up again, cursing and swearing, at the ungodly hour of 5.30am. All without the prompting of an alarm clock, mechanical or human. To say that I am extremely frustrated would be understating matters. I am extremely frustrated.

And yet somehow I'm not really tired the next day, just cranky and lacking in appetite. Don't know what to do about it since I can't exactly be taking any sleeping pills at the moment.

In other news, a colleague of mine has taken it upon himself to spread the word that I constantly malign my employer to third parties. Ironically, he tells third parties left right and centre that I malign The Firm.

I wrack my brains to recall such an occasion. I wonder if he could provide any helpful examples.

I check my blog entries, find nothing. It would be an idiot who maligns the very employer upon whom they depend for their livelihood.

I asked The Husband - do I ever talk about The Firm to you?

No, he said. You never do.

I ask my friends - do I ever talk about The Firm to you?

No, you don't. Why?

I mean, for God's sake, who is that stupid? If I were that stupid, I wouldn't even be able to dress myself in the morning.

This is just like the time when I caught the tail end of a rumour that my best guy friend and I were sleeping together.

Because I could not ever recall such an incident, I asked the Best Guy Friend, did I ever sleep with you? and he said, no and charmingly added that he was rather flattered by the rumour in any case.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Bob Dog vs. Grandma (4 Jan 09)

Was a-slumbering on the living room couch of my mother's house yesterday evening when a loud argument between the oldest person in the house and the youngest one woke me up.

Apparently my mother had taken objection to her notepad and the underlying coffee table being stabbed repeatedly with a 2B pencil, and my son had taken objection to being scolded for it.

After administering the scolding, my mother walks back to the dining table to resume her dinner, not knowing that a small angry person was right behind her, ready to teach school.

"You are not supposed to scold me" said the small angry person. "I am bigger and older than you!"

"No, you're not" said the Grandma. "You are 3 years old, and I am 65 years old (lie lie lie - she's been 65 for the last 3 years). Also, I am taller than you!"

"Actually" said the small angry person "If you squat down, I am taller than you!"

Friday, January 02, 2009

Facebook reaches across space and time to wrench my guts out

In this day and age where possibly everyone is either directly accessible or traceable through the Internet, I think we could safely say that there is absolutely no way that any kind of skeleton in the closet could remain undisturbed. Not with google and facebook available to anyone and everyone.

So to cut a long and tedious story short, I lost touch with most of my relatives on my father's side shortly after my parents separated some 25 years ago. Well, excluding the relatives that wanted to stay in touch just to see how we were doing. Not because they wanted to help (God forbid), but just because they were curious to see if a single mother with 3 kids would sink or swim.

Anyway, during a conversation the other day with a colleague which turned into a debate about the accessibility of just about everyone on facebook, I did a search for my dad's brother's older daughter on Facebook whom I had not seen in 2 decades. And there she was, complete with photographs of an entire side of the family I had not seen in just as long. The last time we met, we were just children, trying to tug more coupons out of the machine at Chuck E. Cheese. Now we are closer to the age our parents were at the time, and probably no less clued in to all the family intrigue that now continues to keep us separate, spiritually and emotionally.

She's now on my "Friends" list, and we exchanged a few emails, but it's just impossible to bridge the space between us, so I stopped replying. It does not help that she looks like my dad's sister now, the same one who told me when I was 9 years old that (i) the only reason my parents got married was because my mother was expecting me; and (ii) I was lucky to have been born since my dad also managed to knock up 2 girlfriends at the same time and he picked my mom to marry. No one in the family knows what happened to the other baby, except maybe my mother but I suspect if I ever asked her, that conversation would end very quickly and it would not end well.