Jaded About Life

It was a glorious morning today. The sun shone so brightly and the traffic was, well, as usual heavy. We took the usual 2 hour or so drive from home to wherever fringe of the city. And this morning was in Phileo Damansara to meet someone who has a big name in the education industry. I have admired him from afar due to his successes in building an education hub where I think, at least in my mind, revolutionary.

There he was, in his jeans and shirt ala Richard Branson. Serving us drinks in his ala Google office. It was love at first sight with his office when I first visited sometime last month.

Then, this Man talked. Visionary, quick paced, thoughtful in his responses, just like many leaders whom I have met in my career. Then, we talked about youth and his education hub’s activities in helping these young folks finding the niche in their career lives.

I went away disappointed with his views. I just feel that he has been jaded with life and feel that many of these youngsters are with no hope to help them get the right career.

Youth/young people are exactly that. They think they know everything, and yet they know nothing. Some are lucky enough to be able to carry through their schooling days until university days with no problem, thanks to mom and dad who worked day and night.

Then, there are those who are just bored with conventional educational life. They want to do something different from what their parents have preached them or what the society has dictated them to be. To be what, they still have not found out.

It is those who are in the capacity to help and do something and can do something should guide and mentor these young people.

After all, were we not young before?

Leave The Drama At The Door, Kids!

I wonder whether kids know how much parents really sacrificed in terms of money, from the day of conception to the day they turn 21. Let me count the ways:

  • Days after the conception, after one missed period: RM25.00 (pregnancy kit).
  • Visit to the doctor to reconfirm pregnancy: RM100.00
  • Expensive dinner for comfort food after finding out that you are pregnant: RM200.00 (maybe more if you love steak or seafood)
  • Maternity clothes: RM2,000.00 (average of 2 a month till you popped)
  • Medical check ups: RM2,700.00 for the next 9 months. Average of RM300.00 per visit. Not included emergencies.
  • Labour room, medical etc RM6,000.00

All these not including other expenses i.e. bottles, booties, etc etc etc. Do not forget the college fees too.

And then, there’s life’s little lessons along the way which are totally priceless, just like the Mastercard advertisement. My mind just raced back to maybe 22 years when real life was just a beginning for me. I thought people could survive on love but the daily reality check was difficult to accept. How naive and accepting I was then.

Bring forward to 2001. Building a business from scratch was not easy. Some got it right from birth. Unfortunately I was not born with a silver spoon, but years of hard work paid off with some relatively comfortable life.

Then, more dramas.

Some children think it is their birth right to run away from home to “think about their so-called crappy lives”. All these just to create unnecessary worry to their parents. And what about that crappy attitude when they talk to their parents. Amazingly, that crappy attitude just change like the swift move of Psy’s Gangnam dance when they talk to their friends. Funnily enough, they are even nicer to their friends’ parents! To add salt to the injury, they even hoped that their friends’ parents are their parents too. And they will tell this right to your face as you serve them dinner after braving the city’s traffic jam and slaving the entire day at work.

Nice.

Now, back to all these dramas. Trust me, it does not end there. It just gets worse. They also think that it is their birth right to air the laundry (of course all these are one sided story) in public so that their self pity, selfish behaviour will be comforted by some unknowing, sympathetic friends.

But God had other plans to test His subjects. He has a dry sense of humour sometimes – for instance, He will throw in the misery and painful break up of a marriage to only reward you with the most fulfilling partnership with your future soulmate whom you only ever had read somewhere in a fairy tale before.

One day He decided to open up the Gate Of Wealth and bestow you opportunities to make heaps upon heaps of money that you can literally waltz into a store and buy everything except the toilet sink. And yet, He tested you with the loneliness, sadness, anger emptiness when your partner left you for someone else younger.

The problem is, you can never buy happiness. And that, is a big problem.

One morning many years ago, I woke up with a bad case of migraine realizing that I had nothing else in my life – no spouse, no wealth, run-out savings, no relatives, lost many friends, no home and no business. Divorce is a messy thing. It saps out the life out of you like the Kalahari during summer time. Not that I have ever been there but I read that the dessert’s temperature could go as high as  50C (122F). The only thing left was a Teenager, the cats and my self determination to rise up again.

So, technically, you need to find that elusive oasis pronto to survive or you are a dead meat. Sometimes, you will see only the mirage…..

Yet, worked I did. Worked so hard so that I can put food on the table, buy clothes, pay the house, save for college, little trips and presents; and all the things as how a single parent should be doing for her little family. 

Children of divorced parents have no effing idea what kind of sacrifices their parents have made. Many, unselfishly sacrificed their own happiness and comfort for the children’s sake. Do you know how many times they forgo their own meals so that you can eat? What about festive seasons when they insist to buy your clothes and not theirs? Or when they have to ask for pay advances so that they can pay for your tuition classes because the ex doesnt believe in paying anything? Does anyone else care that the rice in the can has reached to the bottom that all I could see was the measuring cup?

And yet all these children see is food on their plate, new clothes in the wardrobe, Astro paid, the car moves, the fridge laden with food, phone credits topped up and their pocket money paid. Off they skip happily with friends.

So, what are they after really, for parents like me for instance? Well, I am not asking much. Buy me a simple Ramly burger with your first salary would be nice although a dinner at Lafite would be more fitting. Or, a simple respect by asking how am I.

I am tired of dramas from children of post divorce. Many are ungrateful bunch and selfish. They think that the world will revolve around them forever and a day without an inkling how hurtful or painful their actions and behaviour can be. Some are such suckers for pain that they will stick like a a Super Glue to other people who abuse them verbally. And yet, I really do not understand why the respect and care are not given to those who have sacrificed and protected them.

Conclusion? Perhaps, you have to be cruel to be kind. 

Remember, parents are human too and they will want to feel happiness in their lives minus all the diva-ish dramas. Cause life is too short for dramas.

And I want to live my live for me too. Some decisions such as new location for home, new cat, new sofa, fittings, flower pots, a step dad or step mom are to be made sometime in this life. Some, such as the badly scratched furniture need to be replaced. But not step dad or step mom.

Not happy with that decision?

Too bad.

A Dedication Video To My Daughter On Her 21st Birthday

She has finally grown up. Just yesterday she was in my arms, such tiny little bundle of 2.2kg.

Be well my Daughter and remember you climb the mountain because it is there. Remember that we will always love you.

Be The Best of Whatever You Are
by Douglas Malloch

If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill Be a scrub in the valley–but be The best little scrub by the side of the rill; Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.

If you can’t be a bush be a bit of the grass, And some highway some happier make; If you can’t be a muskie then just be a bass– But the liveliest bass in the lake!

We can’t all be captains, we’ve got to be crew, There’s something for all of us here. There’s big work to do and there’s lesser to do, And the task we must do is the near.

If you can’t be a highway then just be a trail, If you can’t be the sun be a star; It isn’t by size that you win or you fail– Be the best of whatever you are!

My Girl Has Flown Out Of The Nest

The Daughter has officially shifted to her new place early this week. I really cant believe it. No force, no stress, no drama – just a natural progression in life, I think.

George has agreed to sponsor some costs for her bed and I told her I will sponsor the pots and tableware as a housewarming gift.

WOW!

Last night it was raining heavily. There was only George, myself and the rumbling place. And the furkids. Rexton, as usual, was waiting infront of The Daughter’s bedroom, not realizing that she will not be home…..poor Rexton. The house sounded empty. No loud funky music, no buzzing or ding dong sound from a Black Berry, no youth sized blouses hanging at the drying area, no size 5 shoes by the door, no extra key set with that funny looking key chain on the side table.

No Daughter.

;-( I am experiencing an Empty Nest Syndrome!

The Daughter after cleaning up her new place.

Dennis

Dennis was the most recent furbaby that died due to the stray dogs. I couldn’t find him the day before that fateful day. Looked for him the entire evening. Called his name but he didn’t come back. The next day, the neighbour came by and told me that she saw him deep down in the storm drain.

The Daughter going down the storm drain via a smaller drain nearby. This was her very first attempt at picking up an ex cat in a storm drain…..she had never done this before as there was always me around. But somehow she wanted to on that day. Armed with a black bag, a long pole and disposal gloves, she slowly trailed down the small drain.

Poor, poor Dennis.

RIP Dennis.

The 7-Eleven Is Always Around The Corner

I have this message to The Daughter. It is something unconventional but I will still do it anyway. It is about the birds and the bees.

And how 7-E is always around the corner.

To me, part of life’s lessons is not only taking the holistic approach to it but the practical side of things. That means, being a girl and a woman, you should be able to decide and control what is happening to your body, and keep it away from harm.

Harm such as unwanted pregnancy or venereal diseases.

 

It was said that the basics of using condom are so common. Some of the most frequent mistakes include putting a condom on partway through intercourse or taking it off before intercourse is over, failing to leave space at the tip of the condom for semen, and failing to look for damage before use. These errors can contribute to breakage or leakage, researchers reported in the journal Sexual Health.

From the study, here are the top condom errors:

1. Late application: Between 17 percent and 51.1 percent of people reported putting a condom on after intercourse has already begun. Other studies found that late application happens in 1.5 percent to 24.8 percent of sexual encounters.

2. Early removal: Between 13.6 percent and 44.7 percent of individuals in the studies had taken a condom off before intercourse was over. Other studies found that early removal happens in between 1.4 percent and 26.9 percent of sexual encounters.

3. Unrolling a condom before putting it on: Between 2.1 percent and 25.3 percent of people reported completely unrolling a condom before putting it on.

4. No space at the tip: Failing to leave a reservoir for semen was reported by between 24.3 percent and 45.7 percent of respondents, depending on the study.

5. Failing to remove air: Almost half (48.1 percent) of women and 41.6 percent of men reported sexual encounters in which air wasn’t squeezed from the tip of the condom.

6. Inside-out condoms: Between 4 percent and 30.4 percent of people reported rolling on a condom inside out and then flipping it the other way around, potentially exposing their partner to bodily fluids.

7. Failing to unroll all the way: 11.2 percent of women and 8.8 percent of men had started intercourse before a condom was unrolled all the way.

8. Exposure to sharp objects: Between 2.1 percent and 11.2 percent of people had opened condom packets with sharp objects or otherwise exposed the latex to tearing.

9. Not checking for damage: Meanwhile, 82.7 percent of women and 74.5 percent of men failed to check condoms for damage before use.

10. No lubrication: Between 16 percent and 25.8 percent of participants had used condoms without lubrication, increasing the risk of a break.

11. Wrong lubrication: In about 4.1 percent of sexual events, people used oil-based lubrications with latex, which can degrade the condom. About 3.2 percent of women and 4.7 percent of men reported this error.

12. Incorrect withdrawal: Failing to promptly and properly withdraw after ejaculation was a common mistake, occurring in up to 57 percent of encounters in one study. About 31 percent of men and 27 percent of women reported this error.

13. Condom reuse:  Between 1.4 percent and 3.3 percent of study respondents had re-used a condom at least twice during a sexual encounter.

14. Incorrect storage: Between 3.3 percent and 19.1 percent of people in the studies had stored condoms in conditions outside of the recommendations on the package.

Read the full story here:

http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/26/10511064-condom-use-101-basic-errors-are-so-common-study-finds#.T0skoa-pQ7c.email

Athena And Fluffy

ATHENA, THE GODDESS OF WISDOM

Remember Cik Nah’s best laksam?

You see, each time I go there to have either my laksam or nasi kerabu, I would sit on this stool while waiting for Siti to prepare my makan. There is usually this kitty who would come from some place and play, or just watch me eat. There was one time when we didnt see her for a while. When we finally saw her again, she was skinny with swollen tits, indicating that she had given birth and her kittens were not suckling. We tried to look for any indication of kittens but there was none.

I ate my laksam that morning and as she usual did, she slept on my lap. Her burnt orange shade of her fur was beautiful. Her pink nose was wet. She looked contend.

I told Siti that by the time I finished off my laksam and she was still on my lap, I would take her home.

I finished my laksam. She was still sleeping like a baby, infact she even stretched a little.

Yeap, she went home with me that day.

I named her Athena, from the Greek’s Goddess Of Wisdom. She is such a lovely girl with even temperament. No fleas infestation when I found her. Look at that pink nose and paw paw. Fine fur is still growing on her tummy after her snip snip.

FLUFFY

As I was driving out passing the guard house to the housing area with The Daughter sometime last week, I saw one of the guards holding a tiny kitten and was putting it away to the other side of the busy inter section.

I stopped the car and asked him who does the kitten belongs to? He said, it was a stray. I came down, asked a few people there, including an Indian lady who found the kitten near the entrance whether she wanted to keep the kitten. Everyone didnt want her.

Hmmm…the decision was quite clear. I couldnt let the tiny kitten on the street. She wouldnt be able to survive the days without food and shelter. She looked pitiful with the skinny body and sick eyes.

We decided to bring her home to feed her.

Nyom! Nyom! Nyom! She ate like a Tasmanian Devil. Poor baby.

The Daughter named her Fluffy. At first I wanted to put her up for adoption but since The Daughter is moving to her own place by end of the month, she wanted the kitten. She named her Fluffy.

Will take her to visit the vet in the next few days to check on her health, deworming and vaccination. She looks alright for now, and her eyes are getting better after some eye ointment treatment.

Fixing A Daughter With A Broken Heart

(Hanie blogging from the dining room while waiting for The Daughter to eat her very late lunch. The smell of gulai tempoyak ikan tenggiri and timun tua wafting in the air, threatening a hunger pang in my tummy wummy……)

Ok, so she isn’t exactly a teenager anymore..but if all else are left to me, she will always be a baby in my eyes.

It must be hard having a heart broken at a young age. Being in my twenties resides in another life time for me but I remember clearly those years. If I could turn back time, I would want to go back to my school days. Those were carefree days with so much of promises for the future ahead.

But, instead, I got married at 21.

Back to The Daughter. She was in Splitville with her on-again-off-again high school bf of 5 years and it is time for mama to the rescue. When she was young, it was much easier to pacify a crying toddler or a youth. You buy them stuff-toys, ice cream, Barbie Doll, and they forget why they cry in the first place.

Unlike young kids, you cannot really control young adults like this on where they want to hang out to trash out what’s in their mind with BFFs. I am also not quite sure what kind of advice she would be getting. I told her that the world is an oyster and she can go to anywhere she wants to. No boyfriend to limit her from doing what she loves, to be where she wants to be or to travel to places where she wants to go. It is an open world. Go see the world, meet new people, find new friends, explore places, do new things.

I also told her – go cross the ocean because you can, go climb the mountain because it there.

In my mind, to go and see new places doesn’t limit her to a 10-km radius from our home!

So while she ponders on this new concept of being single again, I decided to take her to the North to volunteer at a local sanctuary called The Langkawi Lassie.  

A well known private animal sanctuary run by the Bon Ton Langkawi Resort, I was told that all the animals there are like living in a resort. They promote TNRM (trap, neuter, release, manage) for cats and dogs on the island of Langkawi. Lassie’s animal clinic has two full time vets and takes care of about 300 odd of dogs and countless cats.

On top of this visit/volunteer to Lassie, we will visit a few  friends of mine who are still working on the island. I plan to introduce her to these friends and check out the working and living environment on the island.

Many years ago while I was working with this tycoon businessman from Sarawak who owns a few resorts all over Malaysia, I had the opportunity to travel extensively to all of his resorts. One of my favourite properties is located in Langkawi. Each week, I spent about 3 days at the property overseeing some special projects tasked by the company. It was great.

The beach is dreamily beautiful. White, sandy beach at most places with the most breathtaking views of the ocean when the sun sets. Unfortunately over the years, I didnt really have the opportunity to travel to the island except for a few short trips for work.

However, I did return for my honeymoon with George. We spent a few glorious days in Langkawi, spending the time together exploring the island. We went island hopping, watched the eagle feeding session, singing to our hearts’ content at the hotel karaoke lounge and watching the sun sets.

I hope The Daughter would find some solace and do some soul searching while she heals from her broken heart.

Langkawi usually has that affect on people.

 

Of Old School Mates And Memories

 

For the past few days my Facebook wall has been busy.

Over the recent weekend I had thought of my old school days and childhood friends of whom I have lost touch of between 25 to 30 years ago. Many names popped in my head as well as memories. Many were fond ones too. The wonders of Facebooking has enabled me to get connected to these old friends and from there onwards it has been a flurry of exchanges of messages and phone numbers and updates.

Looking through their albums, I saw all the many faces I once knew. I was literally transported back to the years when we were still in school uniforms. The noisy classrooms, the science labs incidents, sports days, the military cadet expeditions, marching band competitions, debates, track events, exams, teachers and teenager crushes….

All of these faces are mature now. The girls no longer wear their piggy tails and funny braces. These girls have turned to women, they became someone’s wives and mothers. The boys are someone’s husbands and daddies now. They went through life’s turmoils and joys, marriages and divorces, colleges and jobs. Many have travelled places. Two of my friends are now American PR, another a Singaporean. One lady became a successful modern farmer,even planted roselle plants. Havent asked her whether she produces roselle juice though.

These old friends are now doctors, engineers, bankers, business professionals, marine biologist, teachers.

Looking back, I always knew that one of the best times of my life was during my school days. I had more fond memories rather than the bad ones. Possibly this was partly because I had treated schooling days as therapy for me to escape the loneliness and the domestic wars at home. Thats what happens when you were a latchkey kid. These served as an escapism of sort.

But a good escapism. No doubt.

One Day In Your Life..

has always been a favourite song of mine for any karaoke session. Call it my “lagu wajib” (a must song to sing), I would sing this often especially after the painful period of my divorce. It wasnt so much of the meaning from the entire lyrics but I think I like the song for its  beautiful melody, at least to my ears.

And now, its singer Michael Jackson has died. At 50 years old, it could be considered a young age to die. But then again, he was no ordinary man. I grew up in the 80’s listening to his music and mimicking his moonwalk. I even watched “Thriller” for the umpteenth times. I even had my sleeves pulled three quarter, just like his. Alternating between blasting his songs on my tape player and practising for breakdance moves on the badminton court across our house, my friends and I would be discussing on what movie to watch on the coming Saturday morning.

There were only about few things that we had in common between us friends:

  • MJ
  • breakdance
  • Raleigh bicycles to do wheelies on the quiet streets of Raub
  • running tracks at school
  • movies on Saturday mornings (which we paid only 50 cents for each ticket but movies started at 9.00 am…)
  • and, ice cream

When I watched news splased across the tv and newspapers of his death, automatically my mind raced back to those carefree days of youth. Funny how when you listen to a certain song, memories would be just flood back to that specific moment in your life.

The Teenager and her friends grew up in a gamut of entertainers and singers. Their idols kept on changing over the short years and I gave up trying to keep up. We call each other’s music as noise but during those long trips we take sometimes, in order to keep her glued to the seat and not fidgety and bother me, I would allow her to plug in the 4 gig thumbdrive filled with her kind of songs. In return, she cannot squeak a word of complaint when I drag her navigating the small streets of the old city of Malacca or Penang or trekking the deep jungles of Kota Kinabalu.

I think it was a fair bargain.

Of course she thought otherwise.

In the evenings, we would make peace and have dinner while discussing the days happenings. The finale of the evening would eventually having us ended up comatose in bed, ready for the next day’s adventure to some museums or another day getting acquainted with the leeches at the jungle trek.

I can tell you, it is a vicious cycle.

Ten years down the road, I do hope that when she hears a certain song, she would reflect back of the adventures that she had with me and said, “Yeah, I did this and that with my mom”.