Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I don't fully understand my own emotions well, let alone being able to express or act upon it. Hence, at the end of the day, ignorance is the safest answer.
I have always considered myself cowardly, hiding behind a brave facade. In making a mental choice, between a safe, certain (of course, less exciting and a lot less potential) choice and a choice of the opposite (vulnerable, exciting, with a lot more potential), majority of the times I would take the safer option. Not only because it is easier (you don't miss what you don't have?), but also the potential to hurt is a lot less too.
I have never made real effort to be 'friends' with vulnerability. And at the end of the day, I am a lot worse off as vulnerability has now become this stranger, affecting life whether I like it or not.
News that I have recently received, no other news could be both more exhilarating and more confusing at the same time. Give me a physical problem, I can fix it or at least think of many many possible ways to. But, a matter like this, I am as lost as an eight year old! I do not know what to do about it or even what to feel about it.
Unsurprisingly, my first reaction is to be pessimistic, feign ignorance and pretend I do not care. But I do, as much as I do not want to. These things are never easy to figure out and I am at an utter lost. It's complicated. There are so many things to make clear of and so many questions to answer.
Is it something worth the effort, worth giving in to vulnerability for? But by doing so, it might all go very very wrong and whatever the outcome, someone will get hurt, either myself or someone else. Am I trespassing into forbidden territory? I am pretty sure I am.
The question that I cannot let down though is: Am I letting go of another wonderful opportunity?
Part of me does not want anyone to see this. But part of me wants to try and hope you get here.
Monday, August 30, 2010
At 0830, I arrived at the National Library Building in the middle of town. I followed my sister in her car to her office, which was near the library. Thus, I am here THIS early. But apparently, 0830 is not early at all for some of the Singapore students in the library, even if the study lounge opens at 0900 and the libraries at 1000.
At 0835, there was already a line of people sitting outside the study lounge, waiting for the door to open. Even while waiting for the door, instead of talking, most of them have already opened their books and started studying.
And now at 0935, I am here, probably the only one who is not deep in her studies. There are five 2 to 3m tables with chairs on all sides, another six or so tables placed next to the windows, with chairs on both sides, there's even cushions placed at the front of the study lounge. And guess what? They are all filled. Yes, at 0935. Mostly by students, some who are having their breakfast and studying at the same time.
Feels lonely being the only one idling my time away =)
Thus, it must be surprising to find that she is celebrating her 60th birthday. Well, it was for me. My mom is sixty. Isn't people who are sixty your grandparents and not your parents? Aren't sixty year olds suppose to be living the "slow" life, winding down? Not backpacking across China. Not diving (well, she has not done that for quite awhile). Never have I thought my mom would approach 60 so quickly, time does fly!
My mom is a remarkable woman.
From what I have been told, my mom have been a bookworm since young (scary!). Once, she got spanking for ranking 14th in class. But my mom was not a total goodie-two-shoes. Apparently, she did not get any spanking in the end as she and her nanny collaborated against her father, faking screams of pain as the nanny hit her ever lightly. Among stories of her childhood, her favourite (ones she repeated again and again) were ones of her and her father. One particularly memorable was just how she would boil fresh milk for her father. How she would skim the top layer of fats (which forms when milk is heated) for herself. She clearly had very fond memories of her father, who unfortunately passed away when she was merely 17. Thus, I never got to see this grandfather of mine.
My mom studied really hard and managed to get into university in Singapore (which is major feat at that time, very different from our time) to study pharmacy. After that, she dived straight into her career and didn't look back. I am pretty sure that my mom never had any really long breaks prior to her retirement (thus she is enjoying every moment of it right now). She is hates having things undone and would be restless until it is completed, even to this day, even with minor household things. Even though she was a mother of two kids (then three when I came along years after), she still strived in her career. She had a senior post where she worked for nearly 35 years until the day she retired. She was liked by people around her as she is kind, understanding, caring, patient, loving. I feel very privileged to have such a stunning example so close to me.
I love her so much, I don't want her to be sixty. Now I understand why some people want immortality, because life can feel so short.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
If you think that leaving your family and home for a land thousand of miles away will lead to you grow, sometimes, it can be so wrong.
Since coming back home, I have rediscovered myself. It could be said that I lost my spark in the nine months in UK and was left dwindling until I came home. It is true, even my family have commented that after the good trip to China, I have become more energised than beforep. And I do feel different too. I feel more purposeful, more useful, more loved, more happy, more contented. And.... A little skinnier (work in progress).
I enjoyed my stay in UK, for sure, and made some friends that I hope will last, and I learnt many new things (mostly only during the end of the academic year, unfortunately). All in all, I just did not utilise my new freedom effectively and went down the slide.
What is the defining difference between this two "homes"? Guidance from family, as much as I would love to say I am in no need of it. I was innocent enough to think that there are people out there who would think for me more than my family (or even as much as them). Ridiculous, now I know. No one cares more for me than my family, and it took me so long to realise, I feel apologetic to them. And they are the ones who suffer most from my mistakes. Only people who care enough will point out your faults and encourage you to act. Only people who care enough will try to shield you from your innocence and naivety. Only people who care enough will be willing to endure your wrath just to teach you.
I am still a child.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
As I have mentioned a few times in this and previous blogs on certain not-so-happy occasions, the relationship between my dad and I borders between estranged and forced. This is rooted by the fear and respect that I have for my dad. Ironically, he is my inspiration. There is so much to know and to learn from him, how his head works and why he somehow is most often than not, one step ahead. Couple this righteousness with a ferocious temper, he seems to take on a role as a ancient age wartime general, where slight mistakes will meet with fatal consequences.
How did our relationship boil down to this situation? That, will be another story for another day.
Today's story is about understanding my father, more accurately, his pedagogy style in teaching children and loved ones. Also, about seeing in my own eyes the very things I failed to trust before. All this just because of a different vantage point.
If I dare say, my father have always had a brash attitude, as far as I am aware. When he has a point to make, or something to teach, there is no method that he won't use to get the message across. In fact, his style is captured more or less with this phrase, "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger". His words are like venom vaccines, inoculating it into your system, hurting you in the process, in hopes that you (or in the case of an injection, your body) will learn. The more he cares, the stronger the dosage.
Me, being an overly sensitive child (and the multifarious mistakes and wrongdoings that I am guilty of), I just could not take the words he said and the expectations that he sets. Thus, this hostile relationship began when I was 16 or even earlier. What tipped it off? Math and physics (my dad's favourite subjects) tuition.
It did not mean that I did not love my father, it was just that fear and ignorance engulfed everything else. It also did not mean my father did not love me, which was something that I learnt later on.
Having my nephew around this week really changed and cemented my perception of dad. With my rambunctious nephew around, all the uncanny remarks, for now, were aimed at him. Ben, my 6 year old nephew (with strength probably comparable with a Hulk of similar age) is still a child, so most would make leeways for his attitude, especially my mom. But my dad is strict, although miles less than how he treated me as a kid and lightyears less than my sisters'.
This is what I noticed, my dad is incessantly naggy. He uses every chance to try to imbed a certain lesson or warning into Ben, whether it is while he is eating or while he is playing. Secondly, my dad prefers to use the most effective and thus, stinging method. Also, he loves exaggeration: extrapolating a small mistake into a life-destroying problem. For example, Ben, like all kids, love to play. The problem is, he doesn't know when he should stop. To him, life revolves around playing. If it is not fun, it is not worth doing. And when he refuses to do something, he can be such a nuisance.Ben is no angel (especially when he doesn't want to be), he is pretty difficult to handle, with his boundless energy, massive strength and obnoxious attitude. He tends to not listen, especially when it comes to my mother. In a shopping mall, when he runs too far and mom screams, "Ben! Come back." He runs even further and more yelling only makes him run further and further away. Classic scenario, the bully-able grandma.
So yesterday, my dad said this to him, "Ben, there is only one monster in this world and that is you." Ouch! It certainly made my usually unaffected nephew feel something. If I were in his shoes, who knows how I would have reacted (crying would probably come close). I am not here to comment on the psychological effect of it, or whether it is the right thing to do, but this is just to explain the situation.
However, for all his mean and painful words, most of the time, he doesn't mean it. Even after saying all the things he says to my nephew, he still spoils him with trips to fast food (two times in three days!! Unheard of for a person who used to force "illegal" sweets and carbonated drink out of my sisters' mouths) and excursions to the rock climbing gym. This obvious and direct act of love, I could only see it when I am the observer, not the subject. I guess I have always taken too many things for granted.
This does not necessarily mean immediate reconciliation between my dad and I. That day will come, I hope. However, it makes my dad more human than anything else. I have always looked up to my dad. To me, there is no God, and my dad was and still is the closest thing to it. That is how much of an inspiration he is to me. I have done my wrong in this prolonged episode of hostility between the two of us. Only when I amend those wrongdoings, can I hope to make everything else right.