Tuesday, August 09, 2011

life is who you love

Has it really been 7 years?

Alix never met my father but she has been asking questions about 'gong gong'. Remembering brings on a kind of ache - it always gets more intense around his birthday in July.

The most poignant birthday we celebrated was his last one. He was in the advanced stage of cancer and he couldn't eat but he insisted that we order in pizzas so that all of us could enjoy. We had pan pizzas in his bedroom and all I remember was looking at my father, choking inside at how frail he looked, choking at the little corner of pizza in my mouth. Choking in disbelief that all this was happening.

The Garden of Remembrance is somewhere in Lim Chu Kang; in that big maze of green land on the north west corner of Singapore which I am unfamiliar with. Gary offered to drive us there. I couldn't find my way there by myself. We packed in Shane, Alix and Grace and set off, sunglasses on our noses. It would be a long drive in the blazing hot sun.

By the time we got there, it was almost noon - the hottest time of the day, but inside the Garden, it was remarkably cool and a gentle breeze greeted us as we started searching for my father's niche. Gary found him first, along a bank of shelves. A little nook with a marble plaque and the face that I knew so well.


Shane and Alix took out their drawings for Gong Gong - "I love you Eugene Chan", "I miss you Khong Khong". Most of the niches had artificial flowers inserted into a narrow metallic vase. We rolled up the drawings and they fit perfectly in there. They sang a song. Posed for photos. It was as if they were visiting a live grandfather.

We walked around the shelves of niches, looking at the different marble plaques. In the end, we will all be reduced to that.

This morning, we saw a woman with a t-shirt which read "Life is who you love".

And I guess that basically sums it up.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

brave new hamster world

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Baby ballerina

This wasn't a class in ballet. This was a class in not giving up.

Alix started ballet classes about 6 months ago even though I had the ballet baggage. I sucked at it. Absolutely hated it and dropped out after a few lessons. In the girls school I attended, ballet was a big thing and the prissiest girls excelled in it. When the ballet girls were showcased at the school events, we would sit at the back of the hall and laugh at their tu tus.

History seemed to repeat itself when Alix started ballet. She was really shy at first and refused to participate but a friend advised.

Put her in the tu tu. Tie up her hair. Make her feel like a princess.

She gave me a tu tu which her daughter had outgrown and I put it on my daughter and watched my baby become a ballerina. Every Saturday morning, Gary and I attended to watch her dance and I can tell you, my heart just burst with pride. She moved with confidence and determination and was nothing like my younger self, who failed fabulously at ballet.


But something happened over the last month. Alix got 'abandoned' in class first by my helper and then by myself. We were sending Shane to his Chinese class, it starts at 11.10 am just before ballet ends at 11.15 so we step out to send him there.

Alix failed to see us on 2 occasions and each time the psychic trauma pierced deeper.

By the second time, she didn't want to dance. And she's refused to dance for 2 weeks now. We sit in class and she attaches herself to my lap like super glue. Dad tells her lessons will be canceled, she gets more negative and we get closer and closer to ending her ballet forever.

I tried to check myself:

Had I become one of those obsessive parents who watch their offspring overcome their own childhood fears and become even more obsessive about watching them succeed?

But no, it wasn't about that even.

So I sat with her at today's lesson both of us just watching in silence. I didn't scold her. There were no threats. But I told her after at the food court having lunch - what I wanted to tell my younger self. The same thing I would repeat to her at age 5, 15, or 35.

Alix, when you are scared, you musn't quit. Don't give up.

I couldn't make her dance.

And we both knew she was scared. But if ever she had to face her fears, become independent and chase her dreams - she had to learn this.

I sounded like an annoying caption on a motivational poster.

She looked up at me. The first time all morning she looks at me without the fear in her eyes.

Is that how the man builds the house? He doesn't quit?

I don't know where she got that analogy but I think the message got through.

We'll see how it goes. For now, I'll be there and give her as much time as she needs to get over her fears and dance again.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Starfish Stories - Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula

I love the new album from Starfish Stories - Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula - free download at http://bit.ly/7ZyPeI and this is why.

Firstly, you need to get past that:

a) It has the word "nebula" in its title track. What the heck is a nebula?
b) It has a blue green planet as a backdrop in its album cover! Which makes it look like a soundtrack for a sci fi documentary.

Get past that and bring your ears really close to this seashell of an album and it whispers at you with feeling and deep personal expression. Now, that's true appeal. The album which tries its best on first impression to be un-sexy and then surprises you with wave after wave of pure enjoyment.

So lets get intimately acquainted with the songs and a few tracks which really got me.

The title track is "Crystal Tears and the Dream Nebula". You know that the guitar instrumentals are emoting the poetry when your hair starts to stand when you hear the track, and I mean that in a good way. A nebula is a cluster of gases in the midst of becoming a star. Even though I've never been close to a star, this track brings you close to imagining what it would be like to be a speck of gas - invisible and insignificant, then becoming a star. For me, this track emotes hope.

"We Wonder" is the sort of song which would make me cry on cold wet rainy days and I am recalling something sad. Damn, it would hurt so good.

"Stroke of Midnight" starts with dirty guitar riffs and shows off some mean guitar work. Do these guys really have day jobs which don't involve music coz they play real good! And its not just the technicality of the guitar work, its the raw and personal expression which would make me scream my head off if I watched the Starfish band guys play live.

"To be Free" - pretty keyboard work, even prettier guitar work and it falls on the ear like a gentle breeze. Check out the shredding at the end of the track. Class.

"Run towards the Sky" - my only quarrel with this song is that it sounds a bit like an Olympic song which makes it also likeable coz' it makes you believe that anything is possible.

Nebula. Planets. Stars. Whatever. The Crystal Tears album touches me on a human level and it is truly romantic, that 2 guys are making this music in a corner of their universe and launching it out like a nebula.

One last thing, I would totally pay for this album if released commercially.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Back, 2 hours later

Went for a run yesterday at the beach. It wasn't a run for exercise. It was a run to 'run away'.

I brought Shane to the playground on Sunday. He fell from the monkey bar. Didn't seem serious. It was only when we got home that he started complaining of pain in his leg. I thought he pulled a muscle and asked him to rest but it got worse. I brought him to the children's emergency at KK on Monday. It was xrayed and doc says that there might be a hair line fracture in his femur although they can't really tell from the xrays whether there is a fracture. They put his leg in a cast and he can't walk for now.

Last sunday, I was also at children's emergency when Alix woke up very weak and with bad stomach pain. It was constipation and they gave her something to clear her system. After that cleared, another emergency visit from Shane.

But that's not the most upsetting thing. We've planned a family trip to tokyo last week of nov so that we can bring them to Disneyland. If Shane's leg is still in bad shape, he'll have to miss out on the trip.

By evening yesterday, I was a miserable mom. Shane was very frustrated that he couldn't walk. While guilt wracked about whether i should go out for a run with my son's leg immobilized in a cast, I knew if I stayed in, I would explode. So I put on the cartoon channel, told Grace that I had to go out for a while and ran out in the direction of the beach. It was after the rain so it was really cool outside. It was one of the most loveliest nights I experienced, for running. I got back 2 hours later. My shoulders which were stiff before the run, eased up.

Shane was still cranky by the time I got home and like he was a baby again, there were no words that I could use to cheer him up. The run had calmed me down so that I could nurture him with a touch...a gentle head massage which did the trick in getting him to sleep. And all I could do was send a prayer up that somehow this little boy would be well enough for Disneyland by the end of the week.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

mango sticky sticky rice

The husband and I spent the last 4 days in Bangkok. It was our first trip since the crayolas arrived in our lives. Our last trip, just 2 of us was in 2001. 8 years ago.

We did the usual Bangkok things. Shop, Thai massage, explore the poky lanes and buy cheap stuff. Didn't have to break the exercise routine coz there was a rocking swimming pool and gym in the hotel.

We had a night out with a Thai friend who showed us their home and way of life. In Bangkok, babies as young as 10 months old travel in the driver's seat. No seat belt. No car seat. The baby's mom even breastfed her kid while driving at the same time!

Anything goes in Bangkok. That's why its so refreshing.

Also I forgot how fun it is to get away. Just the 2 of us.

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Sprint Tri

Any person. Any age. Any fitness level. And a bike crash.

A year ago, I couldn't run more than 2 rounds of a track, swim more than 2 laps of a pool without stopping and cycling to me, was renting a bike at the east coast park.

No one understood why I wanted to do it. I couldn't explain it too. But I had thrown myself so completely outside of my comfort zone the past year, it didn't matter anymore.

I loaded up the car.

Turned up at the race.


It was the turning before the second loop of the bike route. I crashed on the bike taking the turn too quickly and landed on my helmet. My face and stomach hit a branch. My neck was sprained badly and I struggled to get up. The bike chain came off. A crowd gathered to see if I was ok and a guy helped me put back the bike chain. They asked me if I was ok? If I needed first aid? I was pretty dazed but found myself asking if the bike was ok? Could I stil ride it? They said yeah you can still ride it and I said I want to go on. As I wobbled up on the bike, the crowd which gathered around started to clap.

I didn't realise how bad I looked until I finished the race and people started looking at me sympathetically and offering me tissues and water. It was only when I looked at the car mirror that I realised my face was entirely streaked with mud and swollen from the fall. From the way I looked you would've guessed I did an adventure race through a jungle and fought a crocodile!

I didn't want to fall...it was my worst fear realised. The lowest low of my physical and mental limitations but if you had to ask me what the last year has been like and how it has changed me, this would've been the defining moment. The old girl would've quit but in trying and trying so hard the last year, I had rehearsed this a hundred times before. Falling down, picking myself up.

So when it came down to it, I knew what I had to do after the crash.

Dust the dirt off. No bones broken? Keep going.