Monday, May 21, 2007

Pat on the Back

I totally deserve a pat on my back as I swam an astounding 1.5k in the pool on Saturday non-stop, clocking an amazing time of... oh nevermind. Let's not talk about that. Let's focus on the important thing, that is I did 1.5k front crawl in one go. Time is so not important.

The last time I swam that length without stopping was probably seven years ago.

Round of applause and cheers please. :o)

Thank you.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Back to School

Two weeks back to school, into my Level 1 Sign language class at the Y that is. I still couldn’t shake off the thick layer of rust building up steadily on my hands and in my brain.

During the first class the Deaf instructor KW asked me when I completed my basic level sign language by signing. I looked at her with startled eyes, opened mouth and a confused face when she done signing, exactly like an idiot! She repeated a couple of times, patiently, before it finally got through my thick skull. Unfortunately, I couldn’t reply because I couldn’t remember exactly when I completed it at that moment. Well if I did remember, I don’t think I could sign it either. “How do we sign November last year?”

The Level 1 class this time around is small. There were only 5 of us. I’m the thorn among the roses. As we are not supposed to talk, or communicate verbally in the class, there wasn’t loads of interaction among us fellow students. No idea what their names or what they do. We were only introduced with our sign names. Of course I couldn’t remember any of them. The ladies are all in their 20s or early 30s, quiet, soft spoken and church-going type.

More people showed up in the second class, 2 to be exact. They are twin sisters, students. Hence I’m still the thorn in the class. Second class was a speaking class, the only speaking class throughout the 15 sessions. We had a hearing instructor, S for the second session. He went through the syllabus with us. This time around the assignments (note the plural) are more and heavier. There are observation report writing, Deaf interview and Deaf event reporting. On top of that there are more scary tests such as vocabulary test, comprehension test, dialogue, pictorial story telling, and sentence writing test. Oh did I mention that the passing marks 70%?

The second class yesterday also confirmed my first-impression analysis about the ladies. After the run down on the syllabus, S asked to share why we learn sign. The answers from most of the ladies were church or religion related. The first lady, A, professed she is a Christian and it was a divine calling to learn sign. Two ladies, L and J said they learn sign to communicate better with the Deaf parishioners of their churches. Wow! Those are some very intense, kind and noble intentions. What drives the twins to pick up sign is rather original, I would say. It’s science. Their interest stemmed from an audio and sound wave lesson in a Second Form science class.

What about me? Why do I learn sign? It’s simple really, I love languages. I find sign language super duper cool and super duper fun.

I just remember how to sign BULLSHIT!


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Homemade Gourmet

Feeling like gourmet for dinner, yet too lazy and more importantly too poor to go out for wine and dine. So I made myself a 2-course dinner.

First chicken strips were marinated with salt, pepper, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Then smeared some pesto sauce on one side of the meat, sprinkled some finely chopped garlic, put on some herbs, I got fresh thymes, topped it up with a strip of equal length bacon and finally rolled them up and secured with a tooth-pick. I made 4 of them. 20 minutes of baking in the oven and they were ready to be served with drizzle of olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

Oh man, if only you can smell the aroma. The flavors of the pesto and thymes and garlic were infused into the meat while the bacon wrapping around the chicken kept it moist and prevented it from charring.

For dessert I had a couple of scoops ice cream and generous dash of Baileys. Mmm mmm…

Then I realized I forgot to crack open that bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Damn!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother Material

Some women are not meant be mothers. I think my sister R is one of them. Shameful and demeaning as it sounds, I mean no disrespect.

I would think becoming a mother would soften her up and mellow her down. Nope, not at all. She remains just as impatience and hot temper as she used to be, even when dealing with her twins. Babies, sometimes they throw tantrums, sometimes they misbehave, sometimes they are just being babies, running on a short fuse, R would be wasting no time in raising her voice and sometimes her hands.

Recently, in the heat of the moment, she slapped one of the twins in the face. So, I went over to check on her and the twins. She told me that she realized what she had done but she couldn’t restrain herself. Taking care of the twins and managing the household are simply unbearable and extremely stressful. She has not been resting well, she has not been practicing yoga, she has not been having time for herself. She’s losing it.

“This baby business, it takes times, you know. And you got double whammies, more time and more patience. Motherhood is about patience and sacrifice.” I was trying to console her. “Yeah, but I have no patience with kids. Believe me I tried. I love my twins very, very much but I'm not one of those moms who spend 24/7 with their babies.” She replied, with deep regrets and a sense of helplessness. “I’m getting a live-in nanny.” She added, with her trademark resoluteness.

I remembered asking her during her pregnancy on how did she feel about the whole pregnancy thing and did she notice any change within herself. “ What change? No change, I don’t feel a thing.” She shot back promptly, like a reflex reaction.

Perhaps R is no mother material. She’s simply not cut out for it.

Becoming a mother is definitely one of those monumental moments that split life into before and after. Everything changes there after, permanently, even the minute details such as sleeping hours, groceries list, driving speed and yoga schedule. Behavior changes. Priority changes. Perspective changes. Life changes, as in you have no life anymore, you have babies. But hopefully along with that, you have endless and priceless joy.

To mothers and future mothers, all the best.

Happy Mothers’ Day.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Simple Salad, Not!

I had a late breakfast and anticipating a heavy dinner. So I went with a simple salad for lunch.

First I loaded a couple of bacons and a piece of buttered whole wheat bread into the oven to making bacon bits and croutons. While that was happening, I chopped up some lettuce, cherry tomatoes and cucumber. When I got back to my oven, the bacon strips had turned into charcoal strips. Oh crap! The bread taken out and bacon reloaded. Cutting up the bread into small pieces was actually tougher and messier than I thought. The bread crumbled miserably into bits and pieces everywhere. More clean up later. I then just got the bacon out in time and chopped them into bits.

Moving on to the salad dressing, I combined equal part of bacon fat and olive oil, dusted some ground black pepper and some dried herbs, added in a bit of pesto, squeezed in juice of half a lemon, gave them a light whip and threw the veggie in for a quick toss.

Finally, served with croutons, bacon bits and Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

A simple salad made not so simple, after all.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Birthday To Do List

In no particular order, my birthday to do list:

Learn the game of cricket. Not to play, but to watch. I want know all about the rules, the scoring system and the whole works. The game is old school, full of traditions. But there are a lot of excitement and emotion in a game, with a lot of strategies and calculations involved. Like football, it’s a second religion in some parts of the world.

Polish my networking skill. Correction: acquire networking skill. You can’t polish something you do not have. I’m not very good with strangers, creating small talk. There are a lot of awkward silences after the exchange of pleasantries.

Run a marathon. At least one, hopefully this year. A lot of people think I’ve done this. No, I haven’t. I had done a couple of 10Ks. That’s it. Running a marathon is test of double D (not cup size): determination and discipline for a man (or woman).

Complete a triathlon. A lot of people think I’ve done this too. No, I haven’t. Strictly speaking, I’ve done a third of a triathlon. I did the swim leg in a team event. Swimming in the ocean in a competition is a whole different ball game I tell ‘ya. A hell lot tougher! Then you have got to cycle and run. So going to die after that, but I think it’s an experience worth dying for.

Go scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands. I didn't do it when I was traveling in Ecuador back in 2001, as I was on a shoestring budget. In hindsight, trading a week in Galapagos for a month in Chile is not really a wise move afterall. I’ve been kicking myself in the balls ever since. Ouch!

Further my sign language course. Glad to report I’ve already registered for Level 1 class at the Y. Class commences mid May. I can hardly wait.

Learn to inve$t: forex, mutual fund$, unit tru$t, $hare market, commoditie$ market, realtie$, etc. I want my money $ to work for me. I want to make more money $. Money $, money $, and more money $$. Chine$e gene$ $eriou$ly kicking in, full bla$t! More money! $$

Keep my hair long. I used to have long hair back in college days, close to shoulder length. I want longer hair. But that would have to wait, as my office is a rather prim and proper place. For Pete’s sake I wear a tie to work.

Speaking of how stiff and boring my office is, I want to work in a place where I can wear shorts to work. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? UPS!

Find a cause, something I’d get involve on a regular basis, some sort of volunteer service to the public, because there's more to life, a heck of a lot more. Give back, like American Idols.

Travel to Africa. Mount Kilimanjaro, Maasai Mara, Victoria Falls, Swaziland, River Nile, the Pyramids, Morocco, Kalahari Desert…

Hike and camp in Alaska, preferably in summer. See midnight sun.

Get my own place, either a condo or a house, so I can walk around naked. The nudist in me is dying to jump out. Hahaha! I’m leaning towards buying a condo, then totally turning it into my shagedelic bachelor pad. Groovy baby!

Get a dog (when I get my own place). Something sizeable and goofy. A German shepherd or an English pointer maybe.

Take a course in photography. Get serious with it. Whether it a weekender crash course or long distance correspondence, I hope to improve my skills. Those ‘good photographs’ all these while, they are merely flukes.

Go out more and encounter more like-minded activity partners while hiking, diving, taking pictures, surfing the net, volunteering, etc. It’d be great making new friends and hanging out with a new bunch from different backgrounds but share a common interest. I want to meet ambulance drivers, novelists, nurses, police officers, coroners, trapeze artists, bankers (and their daughters), timber tycoons (and their daughters), neuro-surgeons, morticians, punk rockers…

Whew... Long one. I think that's about it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Life at 31

My family is not big on birthdays. We normally do not celebrate them. I remember one birthday where my uncle brought me out and bought me a pair of new clothes and a cake. When we got home, I was happily prancing around in my new clothes and everyone gathered around singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. I can’t even remember how old I was then, probably 4. That’s the most prominent birthday memory I have. Of course there were a few where I spent it with friends going out for a nice meal and a few where I went out with friends and got hammered. Even so, that is not an annual birthday event.

Mostly, I spent my birthday quietly. I remember there was a year where I went for a long drive on my birthday. I set out and drove aimlessly for a couple of hours. There was a year I sat on the beach in Krabi, reading, sleeping, swimming and sketching. It’s a day I spend in solitude, reflecting on my past year and pondering on my next.

This year I did nothing on the day itself, then I went hiking on my own the day after. It was an hour drive out of the city to Gunung Datuk. Along the way I couldn’t help thinking how quickly and silently time slip by. Realizing this sent an eerie chill down my spine and sipped into my core. I was shitting-in-my-pants scared. I’m 31. I need to be 31, feel 31, act 31, live 31.

“What is 31?”

I thought of commitment.

31 is a time to commit. Along with commitments come responsibilities. Buying a house for example, a big financial commitment. For at least for the next 25 to 30 years, you slave yourself paying the mortgage dutifully. In other words your ass belong to the bank. Unknowingly compromises are made, such as longer hours in the office, fewer contacts with friends and family, lesser vacation days, etc. The youthful spunk of risk taking, spontaneity and adventurous also diminishes slowly. Every move thereafter becomes extremely cautious and conservative. Career change is history. Dreams are shelved in memory and dusted years later, usually with regrets.

Settling down to a relationship, a big emotional commitment, some would say a bigger financial commitment. Life during single-hood is all about me, me and me. But life during couple-hood is all about us, us and us. But actually it’s about her, her and her. All shapes and forms of freedom, say freedom of speech (“that chic is hot!”) and freedom of assembly (hanging out with the guys), remains an ideal in the constitution. For the rest of your life your ass belongs to someone else. At 31, I still like my ass, a lot and still would want to hold on to them. Jokes aside, indeed each decision and action made during couple-hood would have direct impact on another life, her life! That’s like playing God! Don't you think? OK, I’m over-stretching it, but such commitment is overbearing and imposing. Though it can be absolutely beautiful, at 31, I’m longing for it but unfortunately not ready for it. Does that even make any sense?

“So, what the heck is 31?” I kept asking myself walking up the hill, gasping for air.

Indeed 31 is a time to commit, commit to finding the essence of life. Going into 31, the meaning of life, the purpose of being is definite. It should be. Like hiking, I’ve been walking for quite awhile, the summit was in sight and the glorious view was waiting. I know I want to excel in my practice, be the expert in my field. What does that means? Is that the purpose of my being? How does that define me? I believe there must be bigger things than that. Life must be more than that. In the woods of life, I’m a little lost.

Every now and then I would look up while I was walking, I’d saw the peak. I supposed I was on the right track, moving in the right direction. The trail was slippery and steep, still a lot of vertical distance to trudge by. I was on my own. The inner voice was getting loud and firm, shouting: “Forge on. Almost there. Go get ‘em!” (Oh boy, I’m hearing things now!) Slowly, I pressed on. “It wouldn’t be too bad if we are doing this together.” I suddenly said to myself. (Now I’m talking to myself.) I can’t do this on my own forever. I wished someone would be there with me taking in the breathtaking view at the top.

After hiking a little more than an hour, I made it to the top of Gunung Datuk. I was drenched, thoroughly. I sat on the boulders, chewing my sandwich and enjoying the view. It was a bright clear day. The view was absolutely impressive. At 31, I set to discover the essence of my life. I may be still in search of the meaning of my life and the purpose of my being. But it was clear to me that I don’t want to do this alone. The road ahead remains long and treacherous. Having a company along the way would be nice. Looking far into the horizon, indeed I wished she was here with me.

Happy birthday to me.