Monday, April 28, 2008

A Story True To Many People's Heart

What the Modern Woman Wants By Amanda Chong Wei-Zhen

The old woman sat in the backseat of the magenta convertible as it careened down the highway, clutchingtightly to the plastic bag on her lap, afraid it may be kidnapped by the wind. She was not used to such speed, with trembling hands she pulled the seatbelt tighter but was careful not to touch the patentleather seats with her callused fingers, her daughter had warned her not to dirty it, 'Fingerprints show very clearly on white, Ma.'

Her daughter, Bee Choo, was driving and talking on hersleek silver mobile phone using big words the old woman could barely understand. 'Finance' 'Liquidation' 'Assets' 'Investments'... Her voice was crisp and important and had an unfamiliar lilt to it. Her Bee Choo sounded like one of those foreign girls on television. She was speaking in an American accent. The old lady clucked her tongue in disapproval.

'I absolutely cannot have this. We have to sell!' Her daughter exclaimed agitatedly as she stepped on the accelerator; her perfectly manicured fingernails gripping onto the steering wheel in irritation.'I can't DEAL with this anymore!' she yelled as she clicked the phone shut and hurled it angrily towardthe backseat. The mobile phone hit the old woman on the forehead and nestled soundlessly into her lap. She calmly picked it up and handed it to her daughter. 'Sorry, Ma,' she said, losing the American pretence and switching to Mandarin. 'I have a big client in America. There have been a lot of problems.' The old lady nodded knowingly. Her daughter was big and important.

Bee Choo stared at her mother from the rear view window, wondering what she was thinking. Her mother's wrinkled countenance always carried the same cryptic look.The phone began to ring again, an artificially cheerful digital tune, which broke the awkward silence. 'Hello, Beatrice! Yes, this is Elaine.' Elaine. The old woman cringed. I didn't name her Elaine. She remembered her daughter telling her, how an English name was very important for 'networking', Chinese ones being easily forgotten.

'Oh no, I can't see you for lunch today. I have to take the ancient relic to the temple for her weird daily prayer ritual.' Ancient Relic. The old woman understood perfectly it was referring to her. Her daughter always assumed thather mother's silence meant she did not comprehend. 'Yes, I know! My car seats will be reeking of joss sticks!' The old woman pursed her lips tightly, her hands gripping her plastic bag in defence.The car curved smoothly into the temple courtyard. It looked almost garish next to the dull sheen of the ageing temple's roof. The old woman got out of the back seat, and made her unhurried way to the main hall. Her daughter stepped out of the car in her business suit and stilettos and reapplied her lipstick as she made her brisk way to her mother's side. 'Ma, I'll wait outside. I have an important phone call to make,' she said, not bothering to hide her disgust at the pungent fumes of incense.

The old lady hobbled into the temple hall and lit a joss stick, she knelt down solemnly and whispered her now familiar daily prayer to the Gods. Thank you God of the Sky, you have given my daughter luck all these years. Everything I prayed for, you have given her. She has everything a young woman inthis world could possibly want. She has a big house with a swimming pool, a maid to help her, as she is too clumsy to sew or cook. Her love life has been blessed; she is engaged to a rich and handsome angmoh man. Her company is now the top financial firm and even men listen to what she says. She lives the perfect life. You have given her everything except happiness. I ask that the gods be merciful to her even if she has lost her roots while reaping the harvest of success.What you see is not true, she is a filial daughter to me. She gives me a room in her big house and provides well for me. She is rude to me only because I affect her happiness. A young woman does not want to be hindered by her old mother. It is my fault.

The old lady prayed so hard that tears welled up in her eyes. Finally, with her head bowed in reverence she planted the half-burnt joss stick into an urn of smouldering ashes.She bowed once more. The old woman had been praying for her daughter for thirty-two years. When her stomach was round like a melon, she came to the temple and prayed that it was a son. Then the time was ripe and the baby slipped out of her womb, bawling and adorable with fat thighs and pink cheeks, but unmistakably, a girl. Her husband had kicked and punched her for producing a useless baby who could not work or carry the family name. Still, the woman returned to the temple with her new-born girl tied to her waist in a sarong and prayed that her daughter would grow up and have everything she ever wanted. Her husband left her and she prayed that her daughter would never have to depend on a man.She prayed every day that her daughter would be a great woman, the woman that she, meek and uneducated,could never become. A woman with nengkan; the ability to do anything she set her mind to. A woman who commanded respect in the hearts of men. When she opened her mouth to speak, precious pearls would fall out and men would listen. She will not be like me, the woman prayed as she watched her daughter grow up and drift away from her, speaking a language she scarcely understood.

She watched her daughter transform from a quiet girl, to one who openly defied her, calling her laotu; old-fashioned. She wanted her mother to be 'modern', a word so new there was no Chinese word for it. Now her daughter was too clever for her and the old woman wondered why she had prayed like that. The gods had been faithful to her persistent prayer, but the wealth and success that poured forth so richly had buried the girl's roots and now she stood, faceless, with no identity, bound to the soil of her ancestors by only a string of origami banknotes. Her daughter had forgotten her mother's values. Her wants were so ephemeral; that of a modern woman. Power, Wealth, access to the best fashion boutiques,and yet her daughter had not found true happiness. The old woman knew that you could find happiness with much less. When her daughter left the earth everything she had would count for nothing. People would look to her legacy and say that she was a great woman, but she would be forgotten once the wind blows over, like the ashes of burnt paper convertibles and mansions. The old woman wished she could go back and erase all her big hopes and prayers for her daughter; now she had only one want: That her daughter be happy.

She looked out of the temple gate. She saw her daughter speaking on the phone, her brow furrowed with angerand worry. Being at the top is not good, the woman thought, there is only one way to go from there - down. The old woman carefully unfolded the plastic bag and spread out a packet of beehoon in front of the altar.Her daughter often mocked her for worshipping porcelain Gods. How could she pray to them so faithfully and expect pieces of ceramic to fly to her aid? But her daughter had her own gods too, idols of wealth, success and power that she was enslaved to and worshipped everyday of her life.Every day was a quest for the idols, and the idols she worshipped counted for nothing in eternity. All the wants her daughter had would slowly suck the life out of her and leave her, an empty soulless shell at the altar.

The old lady watched her joss tick. The dull heat had left a teetering grey stem that was on the danger of collapsing.Modern woman nowadays, the old lady sighed in resignation, as she bowed to the east one final time to end her ritual. Modern woman nowadays want so much that they lose their souls and wonder why they cannot find it. Her joss stick disintegrated into a soft grey powder.She met her daughter outside the temple, the same look of worry and frustration was etched on her daughter's face. An empty expression, as if she was ploughing through the soil of her wants looking for the onething that would sow the seeds of happiness. They climbed into the convertible in silence and her daughter drove along the highway, this time not as fast as she had done before. 'Ma,' Bee Choo finally said. 'I don't know how to put this. Mark and I have been talking about it and we plan to move out of the big house. The property market is good now, and we managed to get a buyer willing to pay seven million for it. We decided we'd prefer a cosier penthouse apartment instead. We found a perfect one in Orchard Road. Once we move in to our apartment we plan to get rid of the maid, so we can have morespace to ourselves...'

The old woman nodded knowingly. Bee Choo swallowed hard. 'We'd get someone to come in to do the housework and we can eat out-but once the maid is gone, there won't be anyone to look after you. You will be awfully lonely at home and, besides that, the apartment is rather small. There won't be space. We thought about it for a long time, and we decided the best thing for you is if you moved to a Home.There's one near Hougang-it's a Christian home, a very nice one.'The old woman did not raise an eyebrow. 'I've been there, the matron is willing to take you in. It's beautiful with gardens and lots of old people to keep you company! I hardly have time for you, you'd be happier there.' 'You'd be happier there, really.' Her daughter repeated as if to affirm herself.

This time the old woman had no plastic bag of food offerings to cling tightly to; she bit her lip and fastened her seat belt, as if it would protect her from a daughter who did not want her anymore. She sunk deep into the leather seat, letting her shoulders sag, and her fingers trace the white seat.'Ma?' her daughter asked, searching the rear view window for her mother. 'Is everything okay?' What had to be done, had to be done. 'Yes,' she said firmly, louder than she intended, 'if it will make you happy,' she added more quietly.'It's for you, Ma! You'll be happier there. You can move there tomorrow, I already got the maid to pack your things.' Elaine said triumphantly, mentally ticking yet another item off her agenda.'I knew everything would be fine.' Elaine smiled widely; she felt liberated.

Perhaps getting rid of her mother would make her happier. She had thought about it. It seemed the only hindrance in her pursuit of happiness. She was happy now. She had everything a modern woman ever wanted; Money, Status, Career, Love,Power and now, Freedom, without her mother and her old-fashioned ways to weigh her down...Yes, she was free. Her phone buzzed urgently, she picked it up and read the message, still beaming from ear to ear. 'Stocks 10% increase!'Yes, things were definitely beginning to look up for her... And while searching for the meaning of life in the luminance of her hand phone screen, the old woman in the backseat became invisible, and she did not see the tears.

At the Meat Market REAL Crazy Sale

Listening to: Fiona Sit - Keanu Reeves Returns Letter
Feeling: Tired

Over the weekend, me, Fun and Sarah N were in town for the L'Oreal Luxury Brand sale. We waited for about half an hour and I initially didn't want to buy anything as I have pretty much everything I need at home. But as time passed, I was waiting in line thinking if I don't buy anything from that god damned sale I am just effing queuing up for nothing right?

And so after leaving our bags outside *I see loads of LVs splayed next to generic knockoffs aka Vinccis outside at the bag counter.. tee hee* we entered the ballroom. For a moment, I thought we were transported to the Afghanistan refugee camp. There were people everywhere. Huddling in long lines around the counters, queuing up to pay for their purchases and on the floor. Me and the girls decided to go around looking for our own stuff and meeting up somewhere in between. Hurry! The skincare stuff were selling out.

Sarah N and Fun beelined for the perfume table while I went to look for Cin aka Hawtmama's Biotherm skincare stuff. You see, I thought I might not buy anything so I offered to get her some stuff. And so I walked over and asked. Apparently that particular range ran out.

Walked around dodging crazed females grabbing their favourite lip colour at 70% off is quite hard. Imagine stray bullets hurtling past panicky people. Disaster. I was amazed to see guys grabbing Lancome Homme stuff amongst girls trying to get their hands on the latest Lancome perfume sets going for cheap. It was quite scary.

At the Shu Uemura counter, people were lined 3 deep from the table, trying to grab foundations (RM60) and eyeshadows (RM25). I didn't even get to go near the table in the beginning.

I was starting to think that everything was actually free. So since I didn't get to buy stuff for Cin, my fingers started feeling itchy. I didn't need cosmetics so I skipped that counter *unless you're equipped with special guards, there is no way you escape the crowd without bruises* and looked for the haircare section. Turns out they were selling shampoos. That one I need...

Looked around some more and nearly giggled to see bored boyfriends sitting on the dirty carpeted floors, keeping their feet away from the trampling of high-heeled elephants. At last I spied my favourite Biotherm White Detox C+ peel going only for RM30. GRAB GRAB. Took two of those and recommended it to Fun and Sarah N who I found trying to worm their way in front of the Shu Uemura counter.

I came out from the hall RM150 poorer and half dead. I wonder how people manning the counters managed to survive the carnage! Fun and Sarah N collectively spent about RM400 in there. Finally took a sigh of relief the moment we got out of the lobby... No more! No more I swear... *Dramatic drumroll* I've gotten my 2 year supply of that fantastic White Detox C peel and will swear off sales for the next few years.

Also spotted inside the madhouse, Kenny Sia who bought some Lancome Homme stuff holding on to some chick trying to maneuver out.

While I sustained injuries to my wallet, Fun got her calf scratched as some rabid shopper squeezed between them with her bag of products behind her. Ouch.. It bled pretty badly... Wondered again if this was worth buying your favourite lotion at 50% off.

It's a mad mad world.

Friday, April 25, 2008

No Regrets

Listening to: Damien Rice - The Blower's Daughter
Feeling: Really broke

It's Friday and I'm home, simply because I am so effing broke. Pay is not in yet and because of some screw ups with previous company, I was paid less than what I was supposed to get. Last month was bad as well because I had to wait 2 extra weeks before pay finally came to me and was promptly spent on fixing my car and paying off my loans and debts. I am still as broke as that day. I am so tired of living like this laaaa *whines*

I guess this is 'paying for your past sins' as Seems says. These are things that you look back and say, 'I wish I didn't buy that damn phone with the card then...' No regrets la. Only learn from mistakes...

I guess there are many things we do that we might regret but remember these are things we could have avoided if we would had stopped and think about the consequences. Unfortunately, we always forget. Like how after I bought my handphone on credit, I vowed not to buy another thing on credit card. Then I bought my laptop. 3 years after that, I am still paying for my debts.

Fortunately, as long as I have my hands and legs, I can still make money to No pay for these 'sins'. I often wonder, what about those people who CANNOT pay off what they have done? Like, if you killed someone... Or broke something that is irreplaceable? If it's me, would I be able to get over that feeling that follows... that regret that will eat into your soul and follow you until the day you die? Will I take my last breath and instead of thinking how I had lived a full and happy life, wished that I did not do what I did 50 years ago?

Like, what if I called that person before he jumped off the building...

Or, would life be more complete if I did not abort that child I once had?

No one is without one regret that they can forget. But one has to understand that whatever it is, it is something we ourselves weave with our own pair of hands. It is not fate. It is something we have to learn and live with.

Do not let regret hold you back from living life. It is not reversible and it is your own decision. Let go.

Get set, GO!

Listening to: Eason Chan - Lonely Christmas
Feeling: Mundane

And so the work begins... Today was the first day I 'sent something to the queue'. Which basically means that I've put in work. Working is so different here at The Bintang. Like I've said, people are less chatty and more serious but Seems insisted that it's because I'm sitting on the wrong floor. Well, I'm just sitting in my little corner doing whatever I need to and leave by 6pm. I'm loving it.

I feel that there are many changes in my life. Not sure when it will start happening or when it will hit me but it is slowly starting. It is extremely scary when things are going so well. You can only wonder when the downside starting. Not to sound negative but it is a theory of Yin & Yang, without the shadow how can there be light? Well, strange thoughts at 3am. Better stop ranting now.

I am busy with many things now. Doing freelance for friends and trying to save up Andenough for Japan. Meanwhile I'm also trying to make some lifestyle changes like trying to stop myself from spending so much. Trying to pay off my credit cards, trying alot of other things. It's not easy with my credit bills, but well it's the first step...

And so while taking baby steps towards the 'real adult life', I will continue to stay strong and soldier on. I am blessed with good friends and luck. I will survive this big bad world!!!

That's all!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nuts About Bananas

Listening to: Nothing
Feeling: Extremely sleepy

I just came back from Fun's house after freaking myself out watching 'Kuai Tan', some kickass Hong Kong talk show/horror reality program.

And decided that I should have a bowl of Banana Nut Crunch with HL Milk.


Just thought I'd share

Friday, April 11, 2008

The start of The Bintang Chronicles

Listening to: Fish Leong - Chung Zai (I thinks)
Feeling: Like I've burnt a few bras

I don't know about you guys but starting a new job isn't exactly what I wanna do every two years or so... The hassle of getting used to a new system, trying to remember a few thousand new names is just too taxing for my brain. But then again, change is something everyone needs to go through so I'm gonna soldier on.

After 2 and a half years working in a magazine, the decision to head over to Bintang *doing a very different type of writing no less* made everyone look at me as though I was KLAZY. Few nasty and negative comments aside, I went on with it. I have Seems & WP to thank for knocking some sense into my head as I wanted to forgo Bintang for something else less challenging. WP whipped out her notepad and pen *a proper journalist should always keep one handy in purse* and started calculating the benefits and Seem's ultra destructive stare did it. I decided to give myself a go by doing Bintang. Trust me, I shat bricks amongst other things. It was a scary decision. It was intimidating but I told myself, what scares me usually will work out and what doesn't kill me makes me stronger. Damn positive right? hurhur

So fast forward to the last week at the office, the HW Girls (tm) gave me a farewell fit for a Queen. After all, I was the first one to make it out. *this is starting to sound like Prison Break season 8* I had a week-long celebration. I love them all and I knew from the moment I decided to leave I will miss them. I will miss The Office. The familiar faces, sounds and smell of The Office. My last day, well technically my official last day was on Thursday but I came back to finish my work and cleaned up my desk, was a blast. Again the gang took me to George and the Dragon in Bangsar Shopping Center and I passed out. For half an hour. How embarrassing. I.Fucking.Passed.Out.Ala.Bali. Floor open up and swallow me now. Never, ever gonna drink EVER AGAIN!!11!111!!!

I came back over the weekend to clean out my desk. As I separated old press releases to recycle I thought, how easy it was to just throw off 3 years of memories but to forget the experiences and people I've met it was almost just impossible. At the end of the clearing out (It took me two days!), my desk for almost 3 years was empty and bare. I couldn't recognise it lo!

I left the lubricant for Zoe. I'm sure she'll have better use for it then me

I looked back one last time and took this picture before leaving. So sad. I was glad to leave but sad that I have to leave everything else behind. I still meet HW Girls (tm) up for lunch. And it has only been two weeks since I left. And so many more things had happened since. Funny that now that I'm detached from the situation but still feel very much part of everything. Guess you can't just go and immediately forget about everything that had happened.

Had a week long 'holiday' before I started at Bintang. Was crazy busy with freelance that I hope will let me earn enough money for Japan. The week just flew by. Did everything I needed to do *except for washing my car* and met up with people I've not seen for yonks and braced myself for the dreaded first day.

Sunday came and still went out for drinks. I guess realization had yet to sink in. Slept pretty late and predictably, woke up a little late. Got a red packet from Mom for luck *my mom is so cute cause she observes all these traditions* and I sped off in top speed with just enough time to buy my daily coffee and managed to have a ciggie before I reach my new office. It's nearer than my previous office therefore finishing a ciggie before I enter the building is actually quite impossible unless I light up right after I leave my house.

As I took the lift up to the HR Dept. I thought how different it was to the old office. I actually have to take a LIFT up to my office as opposed to walking up the stairs back in the old days. Unfamiliar faces greet me. Then it set in that I have left comfort zone. This is as uncomfortable as it gets. I have to wait for almost 20 minutes for a briefing. A BRIEFING? Yes a briefing of whos who, rules and regulation. A little bit on Union laws (huh?), it took almost an hour. By the time my friendly HR guy took me to my office floor to meet my new boss, I was freaking out.

My eyes were glazed over from the lack of nicotine and caffeine. I guess I had the deer caught in headlights look cause my boss asked if I needed coffee... hah! We went for coffee and ciggies. Then went for lunch and totally got geeked out by this transponder thingy that we use to exit and enter the parking. Sure beats having to double park all the time.

I left the office at 5pm on my first day. Apparently it's the norm if you don't have work, you can go home. Wow.. I can live with that. 4 days passed in a blur. Things I found out in this short 4 days...

1. You can only smoke outside the building, where everyone who comes in gets a clear view who's gonna die soon from lung cancer. I only smoke during lunch and make it up by trying to jam as many sticks into my mouth. (KIDDING!)

2. Coming in at 10.30am is A-OH-KAY. Yippee. Just get your work done...

3. I get my own computer terminal (phew) and cannot do msn. I gtalk now

4. There are specific programmes for assignments, leave approvals, internal msging system and online archives. We even have a library...

5. People on my floor has the age average of 35. Maybe 40. But all really nice people.

6. I am a 'funky' dresser. Wait till they see the mag people.

7. Everyone wears slacks and shirts. Except for me.

8. I got a window seat. And a wonderful view of other windows. Groovy!

9. My desk is so small. Only half of my previous one. :(

10. My desktop plays music. But no one listens to music. And I played Spice Girls today really softly after playing 'The best of 1990s' for the past 3 days. Cannot tahan. Wait till I burn my Japanese pop. I think the sub that sits in front of me will cry.

All in all, culture shock for the first few days which was understandable. Now I have to try to adjust my sleeping time to a more normal timing. I am still sleeping at 4am. And waking up at 9.30 if I'm lucky. Eyebags are gonna sag lower than my boobs if I don't stop doing this.

It's 4 am now. I go sleep!

Bintang Chronicles TBC!!!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Meme x 2

Listening to: Ashley Simpson - Just let me cry
Feeling: Lighter...

In my first of many post that I hope to come after this, is a Meme from His Majesty DramaQ himself. I feel obliged to answer as my one and only reader demands... Here you go...

5 Things Things You Didn't Know About Pink

Pink is a horder
In her recent cleaning craze, she cleared out half the room and garbage bags that was accumulated = 13 bags. Useless stuff like old magazines, mangas she bought out of boredom and didn't like were the main victims.

Pink thinks deep thoughts
Well, the operative word here is 'thinks'. Usually topics like global warming and politics gets time during tea with Seems, gets wiki-ed the moment she gets home and promptly forgets within the next ten minutes... Well, like they all say, it's the thoughts that counts!

Pink likes doing the homely stuff
Like knitting, cross stitching, beading and baking. For those who thinks she can't cook to save her life, know that she's not doing it only because she is lazy.

Pink is a typical Gemini
Geminians are two faced people. Just like how Pink can be a cheerful girl in front of her friends, she can be a grumpy bitch at home. Or how she can be spouting typical dumb blonde comments and make insightful ones in her next sentence... Yeah.. two faced, multi faceted, whatever.

Pink falls asleep within a second
That's why she only sleep real late because she thinks rolling around in bed is a waste of time. Therefore she waits till she is super sleepy before going to bed.

Part 2.

1 Which feature do you zoom in on when you meet a guy for the first time?
His smile.. Have to be happy ma.. if not how to counter my super mood swings? I love a deep voice and laugh too!!

2. Who is your role model?
My mom for her patience, Seems because she is just so super, Ange Jolie for being a hot mamma

3. What's the healthiest thing you would eat among sushi, salad and sandwich?
Sushi please!

4. Which movie you can watch again and again?
Sound of Music. (DAMN RIGHT!)

5. Three gadgets that you can't live without?
Laptop, phone, PsP

6. What is your most annoying habit?
Bursting into a song whenever and whereever...

7. What's one thing you're glad you've outgrown?
Insecurity about my size...

8. I get nervous when...
Deadline's looming or money running short.

9. My biggest fear is...
Being without a job

10.The best thing I've done for myself is...
Cleaning out my room

11. Pass this meme to 6 people.
I shall spare a million people from doing this and end it here!