Saturday, January 28, 2006

relatively related

I think about it every now and then. Well, rarely actually. But these thoughts thump louder come Chinese New Year, especially during family reunions.

In between. Neither here nor there. Torn between both worlds. I am made up of both but not quite. You see the dilemma here? No? Let me explain.

My dad's side of the family are all Chinese-educated - the adults, the kids, everyone except for my brother and I. Most of them studied locally. When everyone come together for reunions, Mandarin and Cantonese are the dialects used. I know enough of either to order food and get me from one place to another. And oh, don't try to use profanities coz I understand 'em too.

The relatives on my mum's side mostly went overseas for their education. They're brought up on American TV and McDonald's. English is the main language, with smatterings of Cantonese. After all, we live in the Klang Valley and you'll have to know some of that to survive here.

It's very Chinese on my dad's side of the family. You can tell they're Chinese-ed, no offence, but yes, sometimes you really can tell! It's not unusual to find Chinese brush paintings, koi fishes swimming in aquariums and porcelain China bowls made in China when you visit their homes. Conversation is typically Oriental and polite.

On the other hand, aunts on my mum's side compare Wedgwood and Royal Doulton as easily as discussing the latest sales in town. From the clothes they wear, you can tell this side of the family had its Western influence or are well off enough to buy them. Partially because of this exposure, they're more outspoken and have no qualms about being brutally frank, if I may say so.

As for my brother and I, we were brought up in national schools but speak Mandarin at home with our parents. I enjoy mostly English songs but have recently begun to appreciate Chinese, Korean and Japanese songs. I tend to go for American movies while my brother is into Hongkie films. Our home is a mishmash of Asian furniture and decor from all over the world. Quite rojak, I'd say.

When reunion comes, I feel somewhat at a loss. At my dad's side, it really feels like a great get-together. Because he has 5 brothers and 4 sisters, it's huge when everyone comes back for the gatherings. It's easy to just sit back and enjoy the banter while everyone talks excitedly, trying to catch up with each other. But because I'm half-banana, I only manage to gather bit and pieces of their stories.

My mum's family is smaller, we just about manage to fit 2 tables. Even though that would mean closer ties, it's quite the contrary. Well, since my family had to move around due to my dad's job, we hardly came back except for reunions like these. Meeting some of my cousins are like meeting strangers, even if we do this every year.

So you see, I'm not quite this side of the family, neither am I fully the other side, like how the rest of them are. It's strange, I dunno how else to express this. To the person who quoted that blood is thicker than water, you haven't met my family yet!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

roller grrls

The other day we had a signing of an MOU in the auditorium. My colleagues and I were roped in to be usherettes and "roller grrls*".

roller grrls

While waiting for the VIPs to arrive, we decided to hang around at the lounge area. As we were walking there, one of the staff who had arrived early walked towards us. He introduced himself as one of the branch managers.

He said I looked familiar. I was like, urh, I would have remembered a face like that. But anyways, he was telling us how professional we looked, in our suits and court shoes. He mentioned that he had a side business dealing with PR and events. He said we looked so much better than the usherettes he usually hired. It was obvious he was trying to get us to work freelance for him.

For the sake of passing time and not wanting to offend the manager, we stayed on and chit chat a bit. But after awhile we were running out of words to say and all I wanted to do was to sit down because my new shoes were killing me!

Another colleague came to our rescue when she interrupted the conversation and asked us to help her with the media. The manager tried to introduce himself to her, but she was so harried that she only said hi.

While I was sitting in the auditorium waiting for the rest to come down, he came again and tried to make small talk. I pretended to show interest by asking if his freelancers only worked weekends. I was half thinking of earning extra money by looking pwetty and ushering people, but I had a funny feeling that something was not quite right.

One colleague said the offer sounded tempting. Here we are doing events after office hours and during weekends and not getting paid for it. The money could come in handy to buy better clothes. The other colleague said he looked like he was hitting on me. I'd like to think that I was merely doing my job as a communications executive ;)

In any case, I'd better trust my instincts and not take this seriously.

*roller grrls are those whose task is to roll the blotter thingy (is there a specific name for this??) over signatures to prevent them from smearing.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Since I have worked so hard for the past year, I think I deserve to pamper myself a li'l. Since April, I have literally put my life on hold and deprived myself of many many things.

I didn't dare to at first, but I must admit I did sorta imagine what I was going to do after the results were announced. Not the stuff I'll be bringing to Japan or the things I'm gonna say to Takeshi when I meet him. Just little treats to reward myself for being so hardworking.

I've decided, with the recent turn of events, that I will still go ahead with my plans no matter what the outcome is. Below is an unedited list, feel free to add on. I may not be able to do all of them, but the very thought of indulging myself sounds good enough!

1) Beach holiday - doing nothing but swimming and getting tanned
2) Treat myself to a good massage/spa/sauna
3) Go for a makeover
4) Buy some beautiful clothes, even if it's beyond my budget
5) Revamp my wardrobe
6) Use the nice toiletries I got for Christmas the previous year(!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

tentatively happy

letter from the embassy
Letter from the Embassy

Please be informed that you have been tentatively accepted to pursue your postgraduate study in Japan under the Monbukagakusho:MEXT scholarship 2006

I almost didn't want to post this up because I feared it might jinx my chances. Heh, I know, Christians aren't supposed to believe that sort of stuff. But I just didn't want to be too happy in case it didn't go through. You know, don't expect too much so that when it comes, you will really appreciate it even more.

So anyways, I've been communicating with IUJ and they told me I have a place there. Now the embassy has to make the final decision.

When I last wrote to the uni, they said I don't have to do anything anymore. Just wait for the announcement from the embassy, which is supposed to be in February.

But I know that I was supposed to send and get the uni to fill up the Letter of Acceptance so that I can send it to the Embassy before they decide. But the lady from Admissions insisted I don't even have to send that Letter over because I've already been accepted.

So this afternoon, I called up the Embassy just to double check. As per usual practice, the lady seems bent on making my life miserable. She kept saying it was too late, I should have told her what the uni said, and that the final decision is in the hands of the Embassy and not the uni.

She made it sound like I did not have a chance anymore. I've never felt so devastated. Here in my hands I have the "tentative acceptance" from the Embassy, and an email from the uni stating I'm already assured of a place. But I'm given the impression that all is lost, I can't do anything to redeem myself and I might as well give up.

I can't even begin to tell you how much I want this. It's like a dog who's worked hard to earn its treat, and when the owner is about to give one to his pet, suddenly decides to withdraw his hand and throw it away into the drain. The owner doesn't even need that little piece of biscuit but decides on a whim to just toss it away. To that dog, the treat is all it's been waiting for all these while.

No wonder some dogs become vicious when not being fed properly. So this is a bad analogy, and I'm no dog, but I'm almost close to tears. So near yet so far.

Friday, January 13, 2006


I was given the burden privilege of mentoring a young Christian who's just started attending our CG. She has that classic new Christian zeal in her, and hungers to learn more.

Was supposed to start her off on the New Journey Guide late last year, but she was busy shifting house. So we postponed it to last week. I couldn't make it, she developed a bump on her head and went for a brain scan to check it out.

I was just wondering what it takes to be a mentor. Our church doesn't emphasise on mentoring as much as some do. I've never really thought much about it until I got involved with i-Bridge and GCF.

After chatting with Ee Wei about her own experiences, I realised how advantageous it must be to have a mentor. She was relating on how she much she has grown during that period compared to before she had a mentor. And how her mentor gently nudged her in the right direction and gave her wise spiritual insights.

I can see how I could benefit from that kind of relationship. Off and on, I've been observing matured Christians in my own sphere. Pastors, church leaders, peers and even my own parents. But I didn't let them know I was quietly learning from them.

I pick up bits and pieces from each one. Each has their strength in various aspects. Sometimes I watch how they react to difficult situations, or listen to the words they say when they pray. Observe how they negotiate, counsel and teach.

At the same time, it has to be a two-way relationship. If I want to take in their good values and glean spiritual knowledge from them, I'd have to be willing to be corrected and rebuked as well. I may know I'm not walking on the right path, but too ego won't do anything about it. Sometimes it's better that someone else point it out and gently guide me back.

I don't think I've had a proper mentor before, so this will be a learning experience, both for me and her. Time to buck up and brush the dust off my Bible up on my foundations. What better way to grow, huh?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

sunshine amidst dark skies

I thought the year started off badly. Missed the first church service of the year. Some issues reared its ugly head on the home ground. Postponed a mentoring session with a young CG member. Work piled up during my 1-week leave. And last not but least, due to a lack of understanding from a not-so-tech-savvy group manager, another colleague's job was dumped on me while he gleefully trumpeted his newfound "freedom" to my assistant manager (AM). I tried to shut him up by getting him to do a proper handover, all he said was he did it through "trial and error".

It was time I did something. I was getting quite fed up of how things were run in the department. My AM wasn't aware I hadn't gotten my new job description ever since I took on the new role. Our former boss didn't even fully inform her of the jobs and projects I had been working on.

With more junk the new responsibility thrown at me, I decided that was the last straw. It's amazing how I have to stay back more than any of the rest do, while me being one of the most efficient tech-savvy employees still have to push myself to be on top of my job. Almost everything under the category "Misc." were deployed to me. How convenient.

My losing weight must've been caused greatly by all these. Well, perhaps my extra curricular activities have something to do with that too! But I thought, with appraisal coming up and the AM being promoted, it would be a good time to bring up all these. I wouldn't want to be accused of not performing well when I could have focused and excel in some rather than spread myself thin and give a lacklustre performance.

This kept me up the previous night. I got up and decided to capture my thoughts and put them on paper. I would've forgotten what I wanted to say if I allowed them to run free. Felt better after writing, but still couldn't sleep.

The AM was kept busy by the division chief the whole day, whatwith his barking and colourful language. A wicked sense of humour was all we had to keep us insane.

Looking at my AM and her harried self, I was worried that she might not be in the right frame of mind to listen to me. I didn't want to give her the impression that I was shirking from my responsibilities. All I wanted to do was to enlighten her the full measure of my jobs and to let her see that if I was not allowed to focus, the miscellaneous would overwhelm me at the expense of my core areas of responsibilities. Don't get me wrong, I'm all out for added responsibility and a better looking resume, but more filing, faxing, stock keeping, and photostating?

So I prayed and prayed. And into her room I went, with my script note paper at hand. Somehow God gave me the words to say, I didn't even say half of what I had planned the morning before. She didn't question much, but instead went straight for my list of jobs and re-delegated a few to the other colleagues. It wasn't much, but the weight was somehow lifted.

And that "trial and error" job which I mentioned? She took that out as well. At that moment, even with the dark skies and rain threatening to pour down, it seemed as if God struck His hand through the clouds and sent a ray of sunshine down on me. I could almost hear angels singing "Ha….llelujah, hallelujah, hallellujah!" God came through for me again. The year might have started off rough, but I shouldn't allow myself to think that that would set the precedent for things to come.