Somehow never got this one done. But I don’t intend to, as it’s been two whole years and the feelings would not be the same. My memory doesn’t work that well anyway 😛
May Oh Mee in Singapore, 02-12-2016
Had been wanting a holiday badly ever since last summer. A holiday when and where I could be myself, without having to worry about my duty as the wife, mother, and daughter. And, without having to feel guilty for not revolving my day around others, for being myself.
當女人真的不是件容易的事，尤其在我們的文化中。結了婚，你就成為夫家的財產，可能連回個娘家探望父母都必須徵求同意 — 雖然，照理說，娘家父母本該享有公婆的平等地位（我常常覺得「百善孝为先」是騙人的，娘家父母除非是懂得強勢做人的，不然只有吃癟的二等公民身分）。很多時候，丈夫的經濟大權在握，成了控制我們這些全職媽媽的手段。說到底，不過當你是免費的女佣、家教、 保母和雞。
You see, sometimes, it can be hard to be a woman. Particularly in our culture, once you get married, your spouse and in-laws basically OWN you. Meaning, your every move is in their control and needs their approval, even a simple thing like visiting your own parents who’re supposed to be part of the newly-merged family (Merged? Really? It seems such a big lie to me more often than not, sadly. What about the old, old Chinese saying ‘Filial piety is one of the virtues to be held above all else’? So why aren’t my parents yours if you want me to treat yours as my own?). And for someone like me, a homemaker cum stay-at-home mum, the meanness with money is the way to manipulate you. In other words, you’re not exactly treated as the ‘other half’. It’s more like you’re working hard as a maid, a private tutor cum babysitter and prostitute… All for free.
我懂這是基於愛護的心理，怕萬一被夫家藉口虧待了，遠水救不了近火（我還真的有過經驗：在公車轉運站無路可去 — 因為娘家遠在重洋外 — 只能抱著還不會走路的祥祥在原地哭）。
When the doctor advised us to arrange hospice care for Dad, I started planning moving back to Taiwan with Beam, in the hope of keeping Dad company for the last part of his journey after having been absent for ages. He’d given us his all and this was the least I could for my beloved Dad. Time to repay the love I owed. However, even Mum and my brothers made such remarks regarding this plan of mine, ‘Is it really alright? You know you’re married, a daughter-in-law. Wouldn’t it upset your ma-in-law and your husband?’
They were only trying to protect Beam and me, for they wouldn’t be able to reach out in time if my in-laws decided to pick on me because of this. Such as once, when I came to a bus interchange and realised I had nowhere to go since my family of origin was thousands of miles away; I was hit by the immense helplessness and just burst into tears with Beam, who hadn’t learnt how to walk yet, in my arms.
‘Filial piety is one of the virtues to be held above all else’… my arse! You can flush that down in the toilet bowl once you get married, because your parents and other family just don’t count any more. In your family tree of origin, you wouldn’t find your name, because you’re female. Then, in your ‘new family’, everyone’s above you, because you’re an outsider. Literally, you’re a second-class citizen. But the worst part is that many women just condone this shit…
Lucky daughters like me can always count on unquestionable support in all forms from our family of origin, but what about families that don’t function that well?
After last summer, Beam and I had made up our mind to stay put for the next summer. The lovely sunshine, gardens in full bloom… Nothing beats a fine English summer!
But, this summer, after much consideration, I booked the flights back to Asia anyway. Frankly, England is the only place where we call home, because we worked hard for it. The thing is Mum’s aging, meaning family is really the only reason that makes me move my butt. This is also why I always have mixed feelings and pre-commencement jitters when it comes to trips back to Asia. It’s great to spend time with your loved ones, but I just can’t relax much in a place where I don’t belong.
This restlessness reached a peak when the school holiday started. I tried to keep life as usual, calmly; but to be quite honest, I felt empty deep down.
One night, when I stared at the pop-up ad by some travel website, all of a sudden, my heart skipped a beat! I thought to myself: You know, we’ve only had each other for most of the time throughout the years, so how come we haven’t yet shared any travel memory which is exclusively ours and ours alone?…
I did some calculation.
Cool! Enough for a three-night mini break!
So, I spent two nights planning and arranging the trip.
I announced proudly, ‘We’re going to London!’
Beam was on her laptop, and she always had a ‘zombie’ face at moments like this. She looked up at me and after a few seconds, ‘Well, I hope we’re not staying in some crap hotel then.’
I don’t blame her. London is an expensive city. We stayed in some cheap B&B before and the experience wasn’t all that great. It was cramped, particularly the bathroom. I’m very curious about how those who are of bigger body frames shower. We’re not as big but apparently had problem turning around in there. Moreover, Beam’s hit puberty and proper privacy is called for.
‘You’ll know when you get there. Ho! Ho! Ho!’ I gave her a smug grin. To think that we might be rubbing shoulders with my IH No. 2 — Tom Hiddleston… I almost exploded with excitement.
‘Then can we have McDonald’s?! ‘
Huh? This was what got her thrilled to bits? Oh well…
Saxmundham 到 Ipswich 是不對號的，所以找位子要碰運氣，尤其兩個人不如獨身好辦事。出發當天是週日，所以人還滿多的，走到第二節車廂才看到零星的座位。正自忖約莫得站一段了，就見到一張桌子還有相對的空位，靠窗的位子已經被兩個老杯杯坐了，趕緊停步詢問。
Free seating for the journey from Saxmundham to Ipswich, therefore luck is needed if you’d like to have a proper rest. Travelling alone would be much easier to get a seat. It was a Sunday, so the crowd was expected.
Just as I was about to give up searching, suddenly, a table caught my eyes. The two window seats were occupied by two old gentlemen but both the aisle seats were vacant. I stopped and asked.
One of the gentlemen answered with a kind smile, ‘It’s not taken. Oh would you like a hand?’
Sir Hercules meant it. He actually got up, which really surprised me! From what I could see, he was at least 70. We were of about the same height. He wasn’t skinny, but by standing next to the plump Polar Bear Queen, that is moi, he definitely looked like Pinocchio.
This is the good old England I love!! The older generation are the real ladies and gentlemen. Ever so courteous, warm-hearted and civilised.
‘It’s alright. It’s alright. I’m fine. Thank you so much!’ I just couldn’t tell him enough how appreciative I was of his kind gesture!
‘You sure? Alright then.’ He sat back down, and carried on the conversation with his friend which was interrupted by me.
Luckily I didn’t let him. Because, even I myself failed it. In the end, I had to ask a succulent young man who sat on the other side of the aisle for help.
坐下來後，祥拿出素描簿，邊聽音樂邊畫畫，我也戴上耳機，稍微放空一下。我是那種沒辦法在車上或飛機上看書的傢伙（不過，看免稅商品就 okay，哈哈～我猜是圖片比較不需要用心理解？也或許是瞎拼令人放鬆？雖然我通常只看不買，作作有錢人的大頭夢還是挺爽的 ^_^），所以只能靠音樂潛入當下的自我。
After having settled into our seats, Beam started scribbling in her sketchbook while listening to music. I took out my earbuds too, trying to rest a little. Unlike many, I’m not able to read in a car or during a flight as it makes me dizzy, therefore music is the only mental outlet for me at moments like this. Flipping through a Duty Free magazine is different though… (My guess is looking at colourful pictures doesn’t demand much of your brain? Or it could be that shopping, even window shopping, is simply relaxing. Daydreaming of being a millionaire is always fun ^_^)
I spaced out for quite a while with my favourite music.
When I finally came back down to earth, I noticed something unusual about this friend of Sir Hercules’. He had the face of Chor Yuen, pink glasses with an unnecessarily large red spectacle frame sitting on the nose, dressing in a pink suit with camel ankle boots. Sir Hercules wasn’t as queer with his conventional grey suit. They did have some things in common though — The identical neckties with the interesting pattern of rats, the identical rat-shaped pins on the shirt collars, and the most eye-catching items came to the chunky gold necklaces with rat-shaped pendants.
大力士北杯開始熱心講解：「我們是 Water Rats！（台灣叫「河鼠」嗎？）聽過嗎？」
A master of busybody such as me waited patiently…
Finally, the conversation seemed to have come to an end and that was my cue!
‘Excuse me. I couldn’t help but noticing your necklaces and pins. Are you part of some special association?’ (Somehow, I guessed it could be the Rotary Club even though rats didn’t seem related to it.)
Sir Hercules declared, enthusiastically, ‘Oh we are the Water Rats!’
總之，北杯們是 Grand Order of Water Rats 的會員，Water Rats 是由娛樂圈人士組成的兄弟會，已經成立超過百年，此行是去倫敦參加會員大會。我聽得很入迷，都忘了問北杯是唱歌呢？變魔術呢？腹語？還是演員等等等呢？
I’ve always enjoyed listening to the older generation’s life stories. Just a few days ago, John my beloved neighbour said to me, ‘I know you said you’re shy and socially awkward, but it’s always refreshing talking to you. So, do talk with us more, please!’
And from this conversation, I learnt that John served overseas in the WWII while his dad served in the WWI. To think this year is the centenary of WWI… Wow… We are all specks of dust in the infinity of time. This fact makes me feel so small, but also serves as a reminder that we’re all part of the history of mankind nonetheless.
Anyway, they were members of Grand Order of Water Rats. It’s a century-old entertainer fraternity. The story of Water Rats is the story of show business. They were travelling to London for a member gathering.
I was so fascinated that I forgot to ask about their specialties. Were they singers? Magicians? Ventriloquists? Actors? Etc.? Etc.? Etc.?
‘Love those spectacles.’ I said to Sir Giant Spectacles. My own sun glasses for jogging were of red and pink spectacle frames respectively.
This compliment seemed to startle him somehow (Maybe he thought I’d had interesting taste?) and he went silent for quite a few seconds.
Finally, he replied, ‘So I don’t walk into lampposts…’
Mm… Does that mean pink actually sharpens your vision? Intriguing response, indeed.
到了 Ipswich 要換車，原本有些小緊張，因為通常轉車之間的空檔都滿短的，而且看新聞最近似乎鐵路常出包。不過，感謝 神，一切平順。
一回，第一段車程因故延遲了幾分鐘，終於到了 Ipswich 下了車，只見我們要搭的下一班車已經慢慢在走了。本來我急了準備拔腿就追，卻被眼前的世界奇觀驚到呆了：大夥兒跩著行李，一邊揮手呼喊「哈囉？！哈囉？！」，一邊不慍不火地向前走著。。。
We needed to change trains in Ipswich. I was a a little nervous at first because the interval between trains could be quite tight, and recently, there were quite a few unpleasant railway incidents in the news. But thank God, everything turned out to be fine.
Once, our first leg was delayed; when we finally got off the train at Ipswich station, the connecting train had already started to move. I could feel my adrenaline surging and was about to charge! But, the sight before my very eyes put me in awe and halted my steps: A whole bunch of people — my fellow passengers who just got off the same train — were literally taking this incident in their stride, ever so calmly, with one hand dragging their luggage bags along, and the other waving, ‘Hello?! Hello?!’
And guess what! The ~ train ~ stopped ~ eventually!
I don’t think I would ever get to see this impeccable patience of the passengers and the customer-oriented service provided by the railway staff in Taiwan or Singapore. At least, not in this lifetime. I understand if they did it for the old people because they may not move as swiftly; but what truly amazed me was how even the young people behaved just as calmly, no one got worked up and ran after the train. Luckily I was walking at the back, or it would be so embarrassing for me to charge and throw fervent knocks on the door.
We had to wait a couple of minutes for the doors to open after the train had stopped moving due to the setting of its computerised safety lock system.
說到這個車門，兩年前從巴黎回來的時候，也是在倫敦搭火車，到了 Ipswich 準備下車，突然發現，怎麼都找不到門把或按鈕之類的；本來我前面有個旅客下車，可是我走得慢沒跟上，所以沒見到她怎麼開的，門就關上了。急得我像熱鍋上的螞蟻，只差沒向天空伸出雙臂大喊「芝麻，開門吧！」
Speaking of which, I didn’t know these doors were to be unlocked manually until two years ago. I was coming home from Paris, taking the train in London and getting off in Ipswich for the final leg of my journey. There was a passenger walking 100m before me; she eventually made a right turn and disappeared. When it was my turn standing in front of the door, I was shocked to find that there was no door knob or a handle in sight! I started panicking, pressing and clicking everything that looked like a switch. So desperate that I almost shouted ‘Open Sesame!’ with my arms open wide in the air.
Well, my God is a faithful God, always. Just as I was looking around frantically for help, a drawing next to the door popped in…
Oh wow! To get off the train, all you need to do is open the window, stick your arm out and press the handle on the other side of the door to open it.
As soon as I stepped onto the platform with my baggage, there came the train whistle, signalling its setting off again. *PHEW*! How lucky was that?!
I chitchatted about this funny incident with Coach Waba later on. And what a coincidence — When she and her family travelled to London few days later, they encountered the same train. After they came back from the trip, she thanked me for sharing the experience so they knew what to do. Well, yet another great example of ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ Ha! Experience, good or bad, there’s always a lesson to be learnt.
這是我的放鬆之旅，因此選擇了南肯辛頓車站旁的酒店公寓，南肯辛頓是全英國最大的文化藝術與博物館特區。我們的落腳處，距離主要目標 — 自然史博物館 & 科學工業博物館 — 只有兩分鐘腳程。
～【倫敦地鐵 — 自由旅行精品書】 by 楊春龍（采葒初版社）
I booked a service apartment next to South Kensington Station because the purpose of this trip was to relax, and what could be better than staying here — home to large numbers of museums?（Our chosen destinations were Natural History Museum and Science Museum, which were literally two minutes’ walk away.）
A local friend told me that the wealthy Victorians contributed immensely to the museums. All for one and one for all, I liked that.
We went out for a stroll after a short break. In the hope of finding some nice dinner too.
In fact, London is great for strolling as there are an awful lot of magnificent old buildings to see. So stunning and so many that I actually forgot the existence of my camera! But then again, what really matters is that present moment, when the sight sends me into transports of delight and be etched in my heart eternally. I’m not a good photographer anyway.
我們從 Little Waitrose 買了晚餐，住的比較花錢，就從這方面省下來，小廚房有烤箱很方便的。而且，可以邊吃邊看電視，也滿爽的，家裡沒電視，所以有點「卯起來看」的可怕心態，哈哈。
一切看似圓滿，卻在近午夜時，接到好友的簡訊，又酗酒了。因著種種個人因素，好友沉溺在酒精裡企圖麻痺自己，四年了，好不容易在今年初才戒掉。我慌了，但是真的不知道我還能再做些甚麼，Pearl Bailey 說：『You never find yourself until you face the truth.』 只有當你勇敢面對現實時，你才能找回真正的自我。
We ended up getting ready meals from Little Waitrose. This is how we do it — If more money’s spent on accommodation, I just cut corners somewhere else to balance. It’s all about priorities. We had a mini kitchen with a proper oven so it was convenient. Besides, we got to enjoy our meal while watching TV. We don’t have TV at home, so, how cool is that?!
We were going to Natural History Museum the next day. Mum commented jokingly, ‘Wow! My daughter is sooooo classy!’ But actually, I’ve been very into prehistoric stuff since I was small.
Summer holiday had begun, hence the long queue waiting to enter. Luckily, I bought the tickets online beforehand. We just produced the booking numbers and walked right past the big crowd into the exhibition halls, with them looking on at us jealously.
～【倫敦地鐵 — 自由旅行精品書】 by 楊春龍（采葒初版社）
我們在 Waterhouse Building 的 The Restaurant 吃午餐。套餐 12.95 英鎊，包含前菜、主餐及飲料。我們當時沒有那麼大的胃口，所以是單點。
We had lunch at The Restaurant in the Waterhouse Building. They offered a meal deal: Get a starter, main and a soft drink for £12.95. But neither of us felt like having that much, so we just ate a la carte.
Ever since I first read Gerald Durrell, I’ve been in love with donkeys and the dodos. Look at this beautiful creature… Human beings are simply vile.
Images of Nature Gallery, ‘showcasing a selection of exquisite botanical and zoological watercolours, historic prints and paintings, alongside modern images created by scientists, imaging specialists, photographers and micro-CT scanners.’
Frankly, even just looking at the magnificent building itself is worth the trip.
冰河紀猛獁特展的主角之一，是一隻於２００７年在西伯利亞出土的猛獁寶寶 Lyuba。Lyuba 寶寶經測定，生存於距今四萬兩前年前，僅滿週月便夭折。Lyuba 寶寶身高８５公分，身長則有１３０公分，大型狗的尺寸（歐洲的大狗真的好大！）；想想，才滿週月就這個尺寸，不曉得媽媽生產的時候是不是很痛。
This is Lyuba, a female woolly mammoth calf who died c. 41,800 years ago at the age of 30 to 35 days. She is by far the best preserved mammoth mummy in the world. 85cm tall and 130cm long, about the size of a large dog (European dogs are truly huge!).
30 – 35 days old and this big… I wondered if it was very hard baby delivery @_@
Speaking of which… Long, long time ago, one starry night, we were watching a documentary film about a zoo on TV. They were showing the elephant mummy in labour. It gave Beam a start when the baby finally dropped onto the floor.
‘What?! Not an egg?!’ She turned to me, with her doe eyes open wide.
我一直以為，猛獁是大象的祖先，再或者就是遠親之類的，想不到竟然不是。好玩的是，當我仔細端詳 Lyuba 寶寶時，一個華人爸爸牽著小孩走過來，說著廣東話：「哎呀你睇，baby elephant！」不知道是英文程度不佳，還是純粹來看熱鬧，所以沒細看解說。
All the way, I thought that mammoths must be elephants’ ancestors, or at least faraway cousins, but apparently not so according to this graph below. Funny though, when I was observing Baby Lyuba, a dad came over with his child and yelled, ‘Wah! Look at it! Baby elephant!’ in Cantonese (A Chinese dialect). Either his English wasn’t that great or just didn’t care to read the details, which I do too, sometimes XD
我們還看了英國史前人類特展，梅小獸的評語是「還滿無聊的」，我承認動物一向比人類可愛多了，即使是史前時代；但我覺得很有親切感，因為展場有播放幾年前在 Norfolk 海岸的 Happisburgh 發現的八十萬年前人類的腳印紀錄片，而 Norfolk 正是我們 Suffolk 的鄰居。
We attended the ‘Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story‘ Exhibition. Beam commented, ‘Kind of boring.’ Well, I had to agree. Humans are not exactly that loveable like other beings to be honest, even during prehistoric times. But, this exhibition followed a team of scientists working on an archaeological site in Happisburgh on the Norfolk coast as they made a remarkable discovery of the oldest human footprints from Europe. (The elongated hollows found on the beach have been confirmed as ancient human footprints of probably five individuals, from more than 800,000 years ago!) And, Norfolk is our neighbour!
最後原本打算看看達爾文中心的 Spirit Collection（spirit 是酒精，存放這些標本的液體，是由９５％的乙醇以及５％的甲醇組成），有２千２百萬個物種標本。可惜，一進門，娘倆就被毛毛的大蜘蛛和大蜈蚣驚嚇過度，夾著尾巴灰溜溜地掉頭就跑
The Spirit Collection at Darwin Centre was our last destination. With 22 million specimens, it is named after the alcohol in which they are stored, a mixture of 95% ethanol and five% methanol.
Unfortunately, we got stunned by the sight of giant furry spiders and centipedes as soon as we entered the hall. And off we ran… far far away.
Like British Museum, it’s impossible to see everything Natural History Museum has to offer at one go, so, WE’LL BE BACK!
A trip to places like this really puts life into perspective. Limited lifetime in an infinite universe… Yet, we humans are so arrogant, believing that we rule the world. Ridiculous.
當晚問了梅小獸對隔日行程的想法，小少女說想去 Hamleys — 世界最古老、最大的玩具店；１７６０年創立，１８８１年遷至攝政街現址。Okay，自己出門就有這好處，時間很彈性，不必顧慮太多。原本我的計畫是去科學博物館，但因為就在自然史博物館的後面，退房當天再去也還來得及。倒是 Hamleys 位處 Oxford Circus，距離酒店腳程有多久我沒啥概念，還是先去好了。
During dinner, I asked Beam about her thoughts regarding schedule for the next day. Her answer was Hamleys. Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world and one of the world’s best-known retailers of toys. Founded by William Hamley as “Noah’s Ark” in High Holborn, London, in 1760, it moved to Regent Street in 1881.
We’re always flexible about time as we’re not fussy travellers. I myself would like to see the Science Museum, but it sat right behind the Natural History Museum while Hamleys was at a further location — Oxford Circus. I had no idea how long that would take on foot from where we were staying, so better visit Hamleys first.
We do have Oyster Cards, but I prefer sunshine all the way. In fact, throughout the years, wherever we go, we’re quite used to travelling on foot if possible. It’s either that or by bus, because these are the two ways that can guarantee you to see the most of the place.
I asked the handsome receptionist for directions. He gave us a map and drew the route for us, concluding it would take approximately 45 minutes on foot.
經過海德公園的 Serpentine Lake 時，見到了賣 gelato 的攤攤，決定解饞。一球２英鎊，我覺得整體來說算是合理，因為前一晚在酒店附近吃的，雖然也好吃（據說是得過獎的），但是分量小一些，價錢也貴了一些。
海德公園很大，給人一種天高地闊的神清氣爽感，嘴裡享受著消暑的美味，腳步施施然，真是一大樂事。吃得 high 了，我興沖沖跟梅小獸建議，不如來挑戰自我？從現在起，只要見到 gelato，咱們就攻擊吧？！梅小獸，用她打出生起就有的洞察世態的淡定眼神瞅著我：「I don’t think so…」
Embracing the splendid sunshine, off we went.
As we were passing by the lovey Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, we saw a gelato stall. One scoop for two quid. Reasonable, I reckoned, as this was London after all, one of the most expensive cities. We popped around a gelato cafe which was not far from our service apartment last night, it was good (And awarded, according to the poster on the wall), but the portion wasn’t as generous and actually cost more.
Hyde Park is a magnificent asset for London. Being in an immense place in nature like this is my idea of sheer bliss. The sheer bliss teamed with our scrumptious gelato — Heaven! I got thrilled and came up with a brilliant suggestion: Let’s challenge ourselves! We’re gonna raid each and every gelato seller that comes into sight from now on! *fist pumping*~
My doe-eyed Miss World Baby gave me that look which was full of perspective insights into this big, big world: ‘I don’t think so…’
I love to eat, so how I managed to have such a self-disciplined child remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the century. Have I been given the wrong baby at the hospital??
We exited from Hyde Park and walked onto Oxford Street. There were gelato stalls everywhere, but even the cheapest one cost 20p more than what we had at Hyde Park. Fine! I gave up.
For the past two years, I’ve been feeling as if I’m no longer able to communicate with others the way I used to… as if my ability to express myself has somewhat disintegrated. Because, it just seems so easy to get my messages misconstrued…
Now, I’m not talking about those situations when some people are just committed to misunderstanding you — They somehow feel the need to assert their ‘one-upmanship’ no matter what, such as the ridiculous religious debates which were forced on me.
I’m referring to pure misunderstanding (I mean, hopefully… I really would like to believe in the good in people, particularly those I love) caused by communication breakdowns which could generally boil down to different mindsets, together with the probable language barrier and culture gap.
Last Saturday, I met Waffle’s stepfather Karl and nephew Sweet Pea for the first time. Falling for Sweet Pea the instant we were introduced, I just couldn’t take my eyes off that permanent angelic smile, which reminded me of my own nephews Winter and Khan who I spent quite some time with when they were small.
When I reached out to Sweet Pea for a handshake, Karl chuckled, ‘Troublemaker!’
Upon hearing this, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I caught a fleeting glimpse of slight uneasiness on Sweet Pea’s face. But, it was quickly erased by his angelic smile.
Throughout the time, I felt the urge to talk to him. He just seemed so sweet. And every time I turned, he was smiling at me. I made faces at him a couple of times which made him laugh. Nothing beats a child’s heartfelt laughter.
On the way home, I asked Waffle about Sweet Pea’s age.
Waffle started telling me how the many diseases Sweet Pea’s been suffering from have made him look younger than his actual age. I gasped internally, for I couldn’t tell at all.
Then I thought of this word ‘troublemaker’. I recounted the incident to Waffle out of curiosity.
Like I said, I didn’t know what to make of it as I knew nothing about Waffle’s family and certainly not their family dynamics. It might just well be an endearing way to tease each other, some light-hearted family joke, like how sometimes I would call Beam Beam, ‘You little punk!’ and so on.
The reason I noticed it was merely because of my teaching background and recent studies on narrative therapy and children with learning difficulties (my own godson and another nephew have been diagnosed with autism), general stuff about the power of language. In short, language is my passion.
Also, growing up in Chinese culture, this is not something uncommon, but because I myself was a victim of the false humble attitude in my culture, I’ve become quite cautious around this kind of language.
Waffle straight away clarified there wasn’t any negativity intended on Karl’s part (But frankly, I was just curious if Sweet Pea was naughty at home). Obviously, Sweet Pea admired his granddad and they did get along.
‘I see. I was a little taken aback. That’s all. I thought it wasn’t very nice to tag that word on a little boy.’ Notice I was speaking in the past tense here — ‘thought’.
I carried on the chit-chat about the reason this word caught my attention, partially because I didn’t want Waffle to have the wrong idea about my intention.
Somehow, it backfired spectacularly, which could well be my own fault for failing to achieve eloquence. Waffle was convinced that I was just being critical and judgmental, trying to behave like an expert, about the child-rearing practices his family, particularly his sister — Sweet Pea’s mum, had adopted.
To tell the truth, I was stunned by this unfortunate outcome. Honestly, I was only chit-chatting about my own interest in language, not a single word about his family that I didn’t know anything of. How could I be perceived as so nasty and mean by someone who I regarded as family?
Stupid and slow as usual, I tried to explain, but it only got worse. Waffle got angry, not just upset, and refused to listen to me.
Eventually, I was beside myself with rage when all failed. I frankly was incensed by my own poor communicative ability. I just couldn’t believe it. And partially, I was baffled by Waffle as well — Just how on earth could I criticise and judge before I even got to know that Sweet Pea was disabled?
I apologised after Waffle insisted on his negative feelings towards my words, believing firmly that I was speaking ill of his family, acting like a smartass. Apologies, because I somehow caused the misunderstanding, not because I did speak ill of his family — I DID NOT.
This freak accident proved that the real troublemaker is actually me. I’m just so socially awkward — never know how to start and when to end. In this case, I should have stopped the chitchat right there. My passion is not of anyone else’s interest at all. Parenthood is tough enough, and it’s even tougher to have disabled children. So I can understand why this seems such a sensitive issue. I need to be more careful and improve my language proficiency in order to make myself fully understood.
On the other hand, this incident rather took the wind out of my sails. Nothing survives without trust. I always give people the benefit of the doubt. But, I do like to have some in return from time to time.
I came to the realisation that, after all these years flying around the globe, the only people I can feel totally at ease with, knowing that they trust in me no matter what, are my family in Taiwan with whom I grew up with. Throughout the journey, I did try to create my own family, but apparently, I need to work harder on that — I’d like my trust to be reciprocated.
Unfortunately, the only place makes me feel at home is not Taiwan, where my family still are. It’s England. Need me say more? Everything happens for a reason. This is God’s way of helping me achieve my full potential as a human being. Sigh.
SO ~HELP ~ ME ~ GOD!! Amen!!
我指的是那種純粹的誤會 — 因為觀念、思考邏輯不同，還有文化差異所造成的。而不是那種擺明要刁難、死纏爛打非贏你不可的；例如那兩次被沒品的無神論者打鴨子上架的宗教辯論。
這時，我想到了「Troublemaker！」這個字，出於好奇，就跟鬆餅提了，原來他當場沒有聽到。我說，我不認識他們，所以這也許是家人間親暱的一種互動，就像我也會叫梅小獸：「You little punk!」
最後，我也火了，被自己無可置信的爛溝通能力惹火的。除了氣憤的情緒，我也無法理解鬆餅的態度 — 根本我一開始都不知道小甜豆的身心多重障礙，是要怎麼批判論斷？！
我最喜歡的作家之一 Maya Angelou 說過一句話：『。。。人們不會記得你說過的話、做過的事，但他們永遠不會遺忘你曾經給他們的感受。』鬆餅很堅持他對這件事的負面感受，所以，我最終道歉了；不是因為我做錯事（說他們家壞話 — 我沒有！），而是因為我造成了這個誤會。
只是，我的歸屬感在英格蘭，不在台灣。這無異是 上帝的巧妙安排。我沒有怨言，因為， 上帝的意念高於我們這些凡人的，該修習的課題，就要好好完成才是。
This morning, finally remembered to pass the stamps to Paul. Almost everyone I know has been collecting stamps for the Big Headz.
Once it was done, Beam and I walked on towards school.
Beam made an observation, ‘You’re very good at collecting stamps.’
‘Oh? Haha ~ I like the way you put it. Tell it as it is. You know, some would definitely make comments like “Wow! You’re rich!”‘ (Note: One stamp for every £5 spent ^_^)
‘Yuh. Remember some of the people we know? They’re somehow forever comparing themselves to others, forever assuming and using every opportunity to make a statement.’
‘Mm, true,’ looking thoughtful, Beam understood fully what I was saying for I’d been talking about everything with her, even my love life.
After our playful farewell routine (Me: ‘See you at Christmas!’ & Beam: *hissing as she walked into school ~*), I headed to Co-Op and couldn’t help beaming all the way. I was touched by the positivity in her words.
Language is not just a tool for communication and expression. Behind a language, there’s always a certain set of values and a specific culture (or cultures!). How you use it definitely reflects your world view and beliefs.
Therefore, I was delighted to see Beam focusing on telling it like it is, positively.
The other night, while I was cleaning the kitchen and getting ready for bedtime, suddenly, there came Beam’s crisp voice, ‘I think I accidentally killed the baby spider.’
I turned, and saw her standing there with an apologetic look on her face, frowning.
She was trying to move the spider, who was strolling on her laptop, to somewhere else, but somehow managed to squash it because the stack of paper bent unexpectedly and hit the wall.
‘Er…’ I was trying hard to be nurturing and looking for some words of wisdom for this unfortunate incident.
‘Oh well, at least he won’t have to worry about being murdered again,’ wise as Yoda, Beam found her conclusion before I had the chance to pretend being smart.
I laughed. This sounded too familiar, ‘Are you copying my “Look on the bright side” philosophy?’
Beam cracked up too, ‘Of course! I know too well this is exactly what you would say, right?’
‘Oh well…’ I couldn’t deny at all.
What can I say? Children do learn what they live!
但是這位年輕的 Yoda 搶先了一步，一點機會也不給：「嗯，起碼，她都不用再擔心死亡這件事了。」
我笑了，太耳熟啦！「你這是在 copy 我的樂天哲學嗎？」（我的口頭禪之一就是「往好的方面看。。。」）
Stumbled upon some thrilling news today. That the Marbled Cat was spotted in Yunnan Province (southwestern China) after 30 years of absence!
Images of the rare marbled cat have been captured in a remote nature reserve in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, researchers said on Friday.
This is the first time researchers with Gaoligong Nature Reserve, which was founded in 1983, have managed to obtain photographic evidence of the endangered animal.
The discovery was jointly announced by Kadoorie Conservation China (KCC) and Gaoligong Nature Reserve.
Images were captured on Oct. 7, 2014 and Nov. 11, 2014 by infrared cameras installed at the Datang station of the nature reserve, according to researchers.
Wang Yingxiang, researcher with Kunming Institute of Zoology of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Doctor Will Duckworth with the World Conservation Union confirmed it was the rare marbled cat.
According to Wang, the first records of the marbled cat in Yunnan were a few specimens found in 1976. The animal was last seen in 1984.
“The images captured this time give us proof that the marbled cat is still alive in Yunnan,” Wang said.
Marbled cats, whose scientific name is pardofelis marmorata, has been listed as vulnerable by IUCU. It is mostly distributed in southeast Asia, along the Himalayan foothills and on the island of Borneo.
“We believe the existence of a marbled cat shows the biodiversity of the nature reserve,” said Chen Beile, a department manager of KCC. “It indicates the possibility of discovering more rare animals in the area.”
First, I’ve always had a soft spot for cats, which might have something to do with the fact that I was born in the Year of Tiger (By the way, Maomee means ‘kitten’ and ‘kitty’ in Chinese). Second, Yunnan is where Dad was born and lived until he was forced to flee by the age of 9 due to the civil war.
Marbled Cats （http://www.wildcatconservation.org/wild-cats/asia/marbled-cat/ ） exist in naturally low densities. And the fact that their habitat has been undergoing the world’s fastest deforestation rate due to logging, palm oil plantations, human settlement and agriculture doesn’t help.
Sometimes, I do wonder what the world would be like if humans didn’t exist. Surely, nothing lasts forever, history has proved that extinction is just part of the natural order and evolution. But, when it comes to human-caused extinction, it’s a completely different thing.
I somehow recall a post Beam and I read last night (We were watching Godzilla 2014 with Waffle and got curious about the robot-like MUTO couple), titled ‘Sympathy for Female MUTO‘, discussing the scene in where the humans set off the bombs to destroy the MUTO eggs, and the female MUTO started crying.
I read the post before this happend. Just the description itself was enough to make me avoid that particular scene. Yes, it sounds stupid; ‘No animals were harmed in the making of this film’, and Mutos are not even real anyway. But! I am a mother myself and losing own child is simply heartbreaking.
‘But she’s trying to kill Godzilla!’ Obviously siding with Godzilla, Beam protested, eyes rolling,
‘I am a mother and I know!’ I hissed back. Yes, very childish, I admit.
And when Godzilla sent the female MUTO to hell with the atomic breath, I couldn’t help but feeling sooooo upset with Godzilla (Mind you, I cried for Godzilla as well when her eggs were destroyed in the 1998 film).
I know, I know. Silly. Just like how the thread eventually turned into a debate about who you were siding with — Godzilla, or MUTOs? Actually, very entertaining. we did have a good laugh reading the whole thing.
One netizen named Daikaiju Daniell sums it up perfectly, ‘You know human character development is bad when I cry more for the monsters than the main humans.’
Well, let’s not lose hope, shall we?!
或許本身屬虎的緣故，我向來對於貓科動物有難以言喻的喜愛，甚至我的暱稱「貓咪」、「滇貓」都與貓有關。而後者這個「滇」字，也說明了我的血緣：雲南 — 那是爸爸從出生到九歲之前的故鄉。
這讓我想起昨晚。我跟梅小獸到鬆餅家看２０１４年新版的酷斯拉，影片進行到一半，我們都對劇中那一對苦命鴛鴦 Muto 很好奇，於是很沒品地開始咕狗；因而，誤打誤撞讀到了一篇名為「同情媽媽 Muto」的帖子，討論的是媽媽 Muto， 在面對辛苦產下的寶貝蛋蛋被炸彈摧毀時，那哀痛欲絕的畫面。不少網友都同感，當然也還是有少數發言是不以為然。
當酷斯拉對著媽媽 Muto 噴出原子能火焰奮力一擊時，我又生氣了，你不知道 Muto 只是要保護她的蛋蛋嗎？！虧我１９９８年的版本有為你掉眼淚，因為看到你辛苦呵護的寶貝們同樣被人類炸光光。吼！
倒是，一位署名 Daikaiju Daniell 的網友，下了最佳註解：「當你掉淚是為了怪獸而不是人類時，你就知道人類有多可惡了。」
Accidentally spent two hours on YouTube, watching Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and David Cameron. Quite interesting, particularly the comments — those words alone, mostly come with outrageous name-calling, certainly give you the impression that they are the worst arseholes since the Big Bang. But if you do watch the whole thing, trying to put aside the ‘inherent label’ you’ve given them for the moment, you might think otherwise. I know I do.
It seems a trendy thing to bitch about politics and politicians. We seem to be always blabbering as if we know best how to run a whole country. Throughout the years, I have encountered a lot of people who proudly regard politics with absolute disdain. I have no problem with that as that’s perfectly within their rights, but I am not at all pleased when my respect for their freedom is not reciprocated, meaning my opposite point of view inevitably gets taunted as naive and even dumb by these people. (Oh, one ‘fun fact’ — I am usually the only one who votes in the elections. Isn’t voting one of the best ways to make yourself heard? Please enlighten me — You bitch, yet refuse to do something about it… — What on earth does that mean?) I agree that there are a lot of rotten politicians in the world. But, I never lose hope. Certainly, there are still lots of people working hard for the greater good, including politicians. Think about Uruguay’s former present Mr Jose Mujica, Singapore’s founding father the late Lee Kuan Yew and even ROC’s Mr Ma Ying-jeou.
Why am I so sure? Well, I come from a civil servant family. My father and brothers were all military professionals prior to their civil service careers (with two of them being the section chiefs). A few of my other relatives are civil servants as well, including my mother. Even I myself once worked for the municipal government before starting teaching.
Therefore, I have first-hand experience of serving and being served (while most of those who taunted me only have half the experience). I witnessed how difficult it could be to implement a well-meaning policy. First and foremost, you can never please everyone. Second, the rivals and their followers tend to distort the whole thing to suit their own purpose.
Of course, you can have your own opinion towards the person, be it Obama, Clinton or Cameron, as you’re entitled to it, for whatever reason. But, it always puzzles me seeing how some feel the need to deny someone’s everything just because they don’t like that person. Yes, ‘label’ first (No, I don’t like him / He’s not on my side), then ‘deny’ (so he can’t be good or right whatever he does). And because they feel the need to deny the person, they might resort to warped and even fabricated facts so as to justify their viewpoint, together with name-calling. This doesn’t just happen to politics. It can be anything — religion, sports and so on.
Some people just have to ‘win’ no matter what.How sad is that?
Well, glad I’m not one of them. Am still striving to be the change I really hope to see in the world ^_^
不小心在 YouTube 看了兩個小時的影片，主角有歐巴馬、柯林頓還有卡麥隆。平常都只是片段讀到有關他們的新聞，很少有機會像這樣看完整的談話、演講，也因此特別有意思，畢竟沒有媒體的斷章取義或不同解讀，自己的思慮比較不會受打擾。至於網友的評論部分，就更有趣了；說真的，如果沒有親自看這些影片，或是根本不認識這幾個人物，那些負面留言會給你一種錯覺：這三位想必是自宇宙大霹靂以來最糟糕的蠢蛋。
這幾年，似乎表現對政治、政客（或者單純執政者）的不屑與鄙視，成為了潮流；大夥兒夸夸其談，彷彿個個都是治國專家。我遇過不少人，一談到這個話題，立馬嗤之以鼻，彷彿這是在侮辱他們的蓋高尚。我對此沒有意見，因為那是各人的意見自由；但是，這些人往往對於我的相反意見沒有回報對等的尊重，這一點是我所厭惡的。當然，爛政客從沒少過，可世界之大，我依舊相信真的有從政者是為民服務的心態（例如烏拉圭剛卸任的總統 Jose Mujica，新加坡國父李光耀，還有中華民國的馬英九總統） — 這些人因而判定我就是無知膚淺加三級。不過，很耐人尋味的是，往往，我是唯一一個每次投票都不會缺席的，我無法理解！畢竟，選票不就是最好的發聲方法之一嗎？
其實，對於特定的人物的喜惡，都是正常的；但，如果把各人好惡轉換為標籤，一切依標籤為判定標準 — 我喜歡的、我同意的，無論什麼都是好都是對；這人我看不順眼，立場跟我不同，無論如何言之有物或者有實質建樹，我就是反到底 — 這，在我看來，跟恐怖分子的行事風格沒什麼兩樣。再說了，反，也罷，無論是什麼理由或動機，這依舊是你的意見自由；可怕的是，往往，很多人為了「贏」，不惜歪曲事實來「證明」自己是對的，或是為自己的主張合理化。
I noticed this problem when we first visited England in spring of 2010. I was amazed to see the hidden road signs, thinking how lucky that English drivers were generally rather gracious and civil. Can’t imagine if this was in Taiwan, Singapore or HK, where drivers behave quite differently…
^..^ still amazed…
The government recently announced plans to ‘declutter’ road signs and make street safer for cyclists and motorists but I didn’t realise it meant hiding them from view!
I spend a lot of time on the region’s roads and it seems to me that more road signs are increasingly grimy or gradually disappearing from view into overhanging foliage and rampant undergrowth.
The plans, to go to consultation, are designed to make signs clearer and to reduce their number so they are easier to understand.
So maybe these ‘disappearing’ signs are part of a cunning plan to give the impression that action is already being taken to rid us of some ‘unnecessary’ road signs.
That’s the cynical journalist in me.
I suspect it is more about the ideal wet and warm growing conditions — that has turned my garden into a lush green oasis rather than the usual flagging foliage — and highways authorities’ tight budgets forcing cutbacks in general maintenance.
Unfortunately the signs that are falling victim to vegetation include some important ones such as speed limits and direction boards — the ones that actually help promote road safety and make it easier to get from A to B. Not everyone uses a sat-nav and, even if you do, it’s reassuring to know you are on the right road.
The problem is that signs are often obscured by vegetation further along the road so you don’t get an early view of them and some drivers slow suddenly when the sign becomes visible. Failing to keep your vehicle’s windows clear is a traffic offence but I wonder if there is any such regulation for traffic signs?
I accept that keeping signs clean and clear is a huge job but there must be some way of improving the situation.
If you have a tree or hedge at your home that is getting out of hand, and obscuring a road sign, give it a trim. And perhaps some offenders sentenced by courts to community service — how about those convicted of serious motoring offences — could do the rest of the road-users a favour with some soapy water and a cleaning brush. Or would that contravene health and safety?
Unfortunately hidden and dirty signs can also be a road hazard as motorists slow to see what they were put up for to tell us in the first place. And if we don’t really need to know any more then take them down.
~ East Anglian NORTH ESSEX Times, June 9, 2014
If I can just get through the night(MV)-黃鶯鶯(TRACY…: http://youtu.be/Id_GP5z6kIY
Dear dear Blanche,
Thank you ever so much for this lovely afternoon *bow*~
Frankly, I was stunned to learn about the “judgment” on me. Because, Janet actually showed great empathy when I recounted my thoughts on marriage in Chinese culture and the problems I’ve been facing.
“It must be very tough…” she responded. Then carried on telling me how one of her friends went through something similar.
Maybe, really, Panda touched her heart.
But, to be quite frank with you, I don’t understand why people selectively ignored the very fact that I’d wanted so badly for the marriage to work out and tried with all my might throughout the years which unfortunately to no avail as it takes two. When I asked our mutual friends if they’d accept the same abusive behaviour in their marriage, everyone gave me a firm “No way!” However, I’m expected to just swallow it. Human mind, intriguing eh?
Truthfully, I’ve never quite recovered from the past, particularly when my family was involved in his attacks, although I agreed to give it one more chance… twice. (No, no apologies yet.)
I didn’t realise how hurt I’d been until I saw my beloved dad lying in the morgue. It hit me hard — I’m someone’s beloved child, sister, and mother, too, so why should I take all the crap? I hate this notion of how once a girl’s married, the spouse and in-laws “own” her. It’s simply disgusting.
Good friends know about everything in my past, good and bad. But still, some concluded, “You’re just lonely / feeling lost.” People seem to have problem believing that one CAN actually enjoy solitude as much as good company. In this relationship, I’m most of the time alone, but never am I lonely. Not that I think it’s wrong to be with someone simply because of loneliness. We all have different priorities. It’s just not me and I don’t intend to pretend being something I’m not.
However “advanced” or modern this society claims to be, there’s still widespread discrimination against a homemaker cum stay-at-home mum, because our work scope is impossible to define — People think we’re just sponging off our spouse.
If you ask me, I still believe in true love, of course (That’s why I’m very busy after lights out every night… with my 7 IHs, haha ~) I suppose the best I can do now is keep the faith (There must be a reason for me to stay on), be myself, and see where God takes me to. In other words, just try to make the most of it.
Being trusting and honest can be such a hindrance, even backfires, sometimes, because it makes you the easy target for unfair scrutiny… But hey, God’s got my back ^_^ God sees and God knows. And the truth is I’ve been fortunate beyond measure having met beautiful people like you along the way (Panda can be beautiful, too, if his change’s real). It’s worth it!
One of my all-time favourite actors Joyce DeWitt once said, “Should there be a ‘judgment day’, there were only two things I believed I would be held accountable for. One was how I had treated Mother Earth and my fellowmen, and the other was what I had done with the gifts I was given.”
Thank you so much for bearing with my blabbering. Hope I haven’t scared you off… Or have I? ^_^
Very happy Year of Horse!
Mrs Roger Federer-Tom Hiddleston-Optimus Prime-David Walliams-Mark Strong-Keanu Reeves-Chester Wong
很遺憾，無論這個社會再如何看似進步，全職媽媽依舊普遍受到歧視 — 因為我們的工作內容與貢獻無法具體量化，所以是好吃懶做的米蟲。
當然，我依舊確信真愛的存在（所以捏，我有著很忙碌的夜生活，七個面首哪！哈哈～）。眼下，我所能做的，就是保持信念（如果我怎麼都走不開，就表示還有 天父給的課題沒作好），繼續堅持真我，謙卑順服 天父的帶領。
我明白自己的不輕易疑人還有誠實兩個特點，有時反而讓自己受到傷害，因為容易被人拿著放大鏡無限上綱做得不完美的地方。但是捏，你猜怎麼著？我有 天父罩著 ^_* 人在做，天在看。而且，正因為堅持真我，我才超級有幸遇上這麼多像你一樣的天使（熊貓的轉變如果是真實的，他也可以是個天使）。值得！
我很欣賞的美國女演員 Joyce DeWitt 說過一段話：「假若真有『審判日』，我相信這審判的依據只會有兩個：一、我是否善待大自然和人類同胞？二、我是否善用了自己的天賦？」
Mrs Roger Federer-Tom Hiddleston-Optimus Prime-David Walliams-Mark Strong-Keanu Reeves-Chester Wong
Read something interesting this morning, which reminded me of my childhood. It’s Tom, my IL (short for ‘Illegal Husband’) No.2.
Tom Hiddleston: ‘I used to have a double tape deck and I used to have my own radio show, as it were, and I’d be the weather girl, and I’d be guests. I’ve always done silly voices.’
I’m the youngest and my brothers are 9 and 8 years older respectively, so I played alone very often, particularly when I was in primary school. When my favourite TV travel programme began, I just sat next to the television with my double tape deck and started talking to the little recording mic. Or rather, ‘repeating’ (and recording) whatever the host was saying, as if that was my own show.
Once, Brother John decided to hold a concert in our bedroom. John gave himself the stage name ‘Taiwanese Rooster King’ who spoke Mandarin with some very thick Taiwanese Hokkien accent. He played the guitar and sang, while I was the host of course. Once in a while, I did the chorus. And the two of us had to play the very enthusiastic audience (a.k.a. the crazy fans) as well, clapping and cheering… That was one brilliant project!
Come to think of it, Beam did the similar thing during the age of 3 to 5. She would hide under the coffee table in the sitting room with my mobile phone, and started with ‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…’ Then she sang, from Disneyland’s Halloween theme song to The Backyardigans. Glad that I still have those files. Listening to them always brings a big smile to my face.
So!! You know what this means… Tom, we’re meant to be!! *muahahahahaaaaa*~~~ XD
我的非法配偶第二號湯姆 Tom Hiddleston 在訪問中說了：「以前我有一個雙卡錄音機，
Woke up to the surprisingly chill morning air. Reached for my phone. Oh, 6°C, no wonder. I walked over to the radiator and turned it on. Time for my yoga session.
While exhaling and inhaling, my mind started wandering (That’s why I don’t meditate. Haha ~). How blessed we are to live such an abundant life. I can’t imagine what sleeping rough is like, and my heart goes to those less-fortunate fellow earthlings.
This reminds me of how I’ve been criticised for my seemingly eternally cheerful attitude towards life by some, particularly those whiners — ‘Of course, you can. You have such a good life!’ In short, I’m accused of being a positive thinker. Mm, actually, I’m more of a doer than a thinker, really.
I don’t understand why people are always assuming. Maybe this is one way to comfort themselves for not owning their weaknesses and responsibility? Don’t they think that so-called ‘good-life people’ (such as us *duh*~) actually work hard to earn it? And the truth is, I count my blessings. I choose to count my blessings instead of whining.
Blessings are everywhere, big and small. The question is: Do you see it? Or rather, do you acknowledge it?
Our Black Friday incident serves as one of the best examples.
13 September, 2013. By the time we finally came out from the custom, it was 8:40pm. Unusual, because Chris, our reliable chauffeur, didn’t show up!
I looked around but there wasn’t a familiar face in sight. It could be the traffic as there was pissing rain that night. Or maybe he’s gone to the bathroom.
Okay. A text message went out to him, ‘Hi-hiyee are you there?’
A response came promptly, ‘Hi, I’m here. Hmmm and what happens next?????’
I looked around again, baffled. ‘You are? We’re under the meeting point sign in front of the Tourist Services.’
‘Are you at Heathrow — ’cause you’re not due until tomorrow???’
I gasped, ‘Er… Yuh. Today.’
How odd! Chris is the most professional driver I’ve ever known, so this is not supposed to happen at all. But then again, Boey is the one who reconfirmed the booking with him, not me, meaning I don’t really know what’s in their dialogue. So who knows? Maybe it IS our fault.
Right after I pressed ‘Send’, Chris called. He was willing to set off immediately if I’d like. Just that we had to wait. At first, I thought of just hiring a cab directly from the airport. But then, I don’t drive, so I wouldn’t know how to give directions. Furthermore, there aren’t many lampposts here, even on the motorway. The lights are mainly at the exits and roundabouts.
Heck. Just wait loh. It’s safe at the airport and at least I know I can count on Chris who’s actually a friend as well. He’s the one who took Maisie from Spain to England for us.
Just as I hung up, looking at the time & date on my phone screen, something clicked: 13 September, 2013.
For the past five whole weeks in Asia, this number ’13’ had been showing up repeatedly. Sometimes, number 20 came along as well. Usually, it was the table we dined at at a restaurant. Boey and I reckoned that it must be some lucky number and started having all sorts of billionaire fantasies, ‘We’re gonna be rich this year!!’
But the thing is, we don’t know how to buy a lottery ticket, nor do we know how to do horse racing betting. In the end, we just let go of the crazy thought, knowing too well that we’re the type who just have to work hard and save hard.
Now it finally dawned on me that it’s been God’s gentle reminder of our correct arrival time — 8pm (a.k.a.20:00), 13th.
OH ~ MY ~ SWEET ~ GOD ~~~
Around a week before our departure date, I realised I put down the flight details on the 14th in my diary which left me absolutely puzzled. Because all the way, when we talked about the trip, it was the 13th. This realisation alerted me and I thought to myself that I must check with Chris. However, later on when Boey did so with Chris via Viber, he intriguingly used the 14th as well though he was the one who pointed out the mistake in my diary. Moreover, I made the booking according to the details in my diary… So, no, it’s not Chris’ fault at all.
Annoyed with myself. I didn’t pay much attention to the itinerary this time as Boey is the one who made the bookings with his redeemed points. We could’ve avoided this mess if I were a little bit more careful.
Never mind. Now we know!
To kill time, I bought some sandwich and salad from the cafe as I’m forever on a see-food diet; my Kindle was in the check-in luggage so I read news on my mobile phone instead.
Suddenly, this headline popped into my eyes: Black Friday, Faye Wong to divorce.
Eh? So… it’s Black Friday today???
OH ~ MY ~ SWEET ~ GOD ~~~
What is wrong with me??? I knew it’s the 13th, and I knew it’s a Friday. BUT!!! This combination never came to my mind at all… Dyscalculia? Dyslexia? Early Onset Dementia? Oh well, life goes on.
Beam sighed, ‘I’m beat. I wish I could sprawl out on the floor right now.’
Feeling guilty, ‘Yup. That’d be nice eh? But think about how lucky we are. It’s safe and warm in here. And we have Chris. Do you remember that miserable rainy night in Beijing?’
Beam nodded, with yet another sigh.
That was more than five years ago. We were living in HK for six months then. Before we set off, Boey had been bombarded with information on how cunning Mainlanders would be by his HK colleagues. So, he was determined to choose the airport bus which he found online over a cab.
‘It goes to our hotel! Er… actually, no. But it goes to that road!’, he announced happily.
I frankly was not comfortable with the thought. He had no idea how big Beijing is and how long that road can be. If you ask me, I would say that 2008 is the Olympic Year and they’d been working very hard for it in almost every way. Apart from this, every time I visited Mainland, it astounded me with its rapid development. I’m sure if we get a licensed cab, there’d be no problem. After all, cheaters are everywhere, not just in China. If it’s about money… well, we’ve been very careful with our money every day, so why not indulge ourselves just once? It’s a holiday for God’s sake. Besides, shouldn’t we put Beam, our 4-year-old sweetheart, into consideration when we plan the trip?
Yes, I’m the one who visited different places in Mainland more than once before. But, for a very long time, my opinions were never really appreciated or respected. In short, I have no say because he’s the bread winner. Guess that’s the sad story of many other stay-at-home mums as well. When so many assumed that I must be the one in charge (which he happily played along most of the time) because of my stern look, what they didn’t know is that I was the submissive one in our marriage.
When we boarded the bus, it started drizzling. Boey was too thrilled to be bothered, staring at all the fancy cars zoomed past us on the motorway.
‘Chinese are damn rich!’ he proclaimed.
I remained silent. I was worried if the drizzle would have become something else by the time we reached our destination. We never like the idea of carrying an umbrella, not even when we travel overseas. Now this might be a problem.
Just our luck — It began pouring as soon as we started walking. A middle-aged lady cycled past us and slipped on a puddle. I went over to help her get back up.
There was no shelter along the way, meaning we literally walked in the rain.
At first, Beam was excited, ‘It’s so fun!’ But very soon, her bubbly chattering stopped. She just tugged her tiny paw in my hand and walked quietly beside me, with her head lowered in case the rain got in her eyes. Every now and then when I checked on her, ‘Are you okay?’ She looked up at me and nodded with her trademark sweet smile, ‘Just a bit cold.’
At the traffic lights, I turned and saw the rain trickling down her hoodie. Her angelic tiny face was soaked. I felt so terrible inside. What a useless mother!!
Boey finally admitted that taking a cab is probably a good idea. Unfortunately, very bad timing. It was the peak hour, plus in the rain. Now that he was aware of the mistake, he tried to avoid any eye contact with me due to the guilty feeling. I ignored him too, because it boiled my blood frankly, for not standing up to him. I cursed and swore as we walked along.
It felt like eternity. Our hands became so numb from the freezing temperature.
All of a sudden, it dawned on me — Why didn’t I pray? Why did I allow the negative emotions to take over?? What kind of a Christian is that?! Bloody hell…
I started praying silently as we walked on. Please, God, guide us to our hotel and give us a happy ending for the night. PLEASE!!!
Finished. I casually looked up and… Lo and behold!! There stands the neon sign of our hotel, gleaming in the rain. We are here!!
Thank you, God!!! Praise my Lord!!!
As we entered the hall, all the eyes fell on these three drenched creatures. I overheard some whispering, ‘Aww… Poor little girl…’ So embarrassing ~~ And the giant thermometer shows that it is 2°C tonight. No wonder…
We ended up walking for almost one whole hour in the rain and the laundry cost us RMB400+, because water got in both of our bags and soaked our clothes. The irony… But luckily, Beam didn’t fall ill. Throughout the 8-day journey, she remained her chirpy, bubbly self.
I digress. Back to Heathrow on 13 September, 2013.
After two-plus hours, Chris finally showed up. Upon his appearance, Beam and I were so exhausted that we suddenly burst out laughing like two mad deflated zombie balloons (filled with laughing gas, must be). So tired, so tired… Hahaha… All your fault, all your fault… Hahaha… I know, I know… Hahaha… Sorry, sorry… Hahaha…
By the time we reached home (in the pissing rain), it was half past two.
Beam looked at me and declared, ‘I’m not taking a shower tonight. I’m going straight to bed.’
In this house, she can do whatever she wants to long as it doesn’t affect others who are involved. For quite a while, she’s been sleeping with me, instead of in her own room, and so a shower before sleep is my requirement. Shower or bath before sleep is like a ritual for myself. My bed is sacred. So, no shower, no Mama bed!
However, the five weeks in Asia has really worn me out frankly. And this Black Friday incident certainly didn’t help at all…… To hell with the ritual!!
In the end, the two zombies didn’t even wash their faces or brush their teeth. They just charged straight upstairs to the room! To lovely Mama bed!
When I woke up again, it was around noon.
As I entered the kitchen, the first things sank into my eyes were a big bouquet of fresh flowers, a ‘Welcome Home’ card, and a fresh loaf of bread. A gentle reminder in the card: ‘There is milk in the fridge.’
It’s Pat and Stephen.
Aww… I almost cried in the fullness of sheer joy. Such a grand gesture of kindness!
Pat actually rang Chris a few days before to confirm our arrival time. And of course, she got the wrong information. She was shocked to see our scattered bags that morning she came in to collect the mail and newspaper.
She had been looking after my house when I was away. I only asked her to come and open the windows to ventilate the house a bit once in a while. But of course, she’s done far more than just that, as usual. My garden is so tidy and ready for the rest of the year, thanks to her.
John, my lovely neighbour on my left (Pat is on the right), has been taking care of my garden as well. He’s the one who mows the lawn and weeds. He has to drag his mower and go around our house (Pat’s and mine are semi-detached, so are connected directly, but not John’s) to enter my garden. Before we set off to Asia, he kept telling me, ‘Remember to share pictures with us. You have a good time and make sure you come back, okay? You come back! And don’t worry about your garden. We’ll take care of it!’
When I told Mum about it on the phone later on, she was almost choked with emotions, just like me. ‘Praise the Lord! You’re so well taken care of by all the beautiful people there. I shall not worry anymore about you and Beam living in the foreign town alone.’
‘There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.’
~ 《The Pickwick Papers》 by Charles Dickens
These beautiful people are certainly the lights.
It’s not always that easy to stay cheerful and keep the faith in such a chaotic world. But I always try my best focusing on the lights and on being one as well, because it’s the only way to live on.
Thank you, God, my faithful God, for the lights!!
剛送出回覆，克理斯來電，如果我們願意，他可以馬上出發，只是我們要等一等。原本想，那麼晚就不要麻煩人家了，直接從機場叫計程車；但再想想，我自己不開車，所以也不認得路（更別提夜裡黑咪摸什麼都看不到 — 這裡即使是高速公路，也沒有什麼路燈，主要在交流道附近才有，何況我們那兒算是比較鄉下，沒有經驗的人很難開車），要怎麼跟司機說？等就等吧，反正在機場沒有安全顧慮，而且熟悉的司機（我們其實還有朋友關係，逃家貓咪梅喜喜就是他帶給我們的）還是讓人安心。
電話剛掛掉，看著手機螢幕上的日期，我突然像毫無防備被潑了一桶冰水般的清醒過來：１３ September, ２０１３.
現在，謎底終於揭曉了：那其實都是 上帝給我們的警示 — １３日夜間八點（２０：００）抵達希斯洛。
大約離境一個星期前，我發現日誌上怎麼寫的是１４日抵達希斯洛，我還在納悶，因為我們每次談到回程，說的都是１３日，太怪了，那得跟克理斯再確認比較保險。結果，稍後熊貓跟克理斯用 Viber 通訊時，竟然說的也是１４日（可是，是熊貓跟我說我日誌寫錯了！），加之我當初預約的時候，就是依著日誌資料，所以錯完全不在克理斯。
算了。等待當兒，去買了三明治還有沙拉，享受美食真是人生一大享受。吃乾抹淨後，因為 Kindle 丟在寄艙行李箱裡（沒料到有這樣的意外），我不喜歡在公眾場合開箱，就用手機上網看新聞殺時間。
祈禱完畢，無意抬頭看了一下，什麼？？？！！！台灣飯店亮晶晶的大招牌，在雨中眨巴閃爍著，原來我們已經走到這裡了！感謝 神！！讚美 神！！
~ 狄更斯 《匹克威克外傳》
Saw this on UPWORTHY‘s Facebook page.
I still remember vividly how my kindergarten teacher (our pastor’s wife) said to me that I was wrong to colour my flower blue (which has been my all-time fave colour) because ‘Blue is for boys and you’re a girl. Red is for girls’. Fast forward… when I was about 11, my uncle took me to a toy shop and let me make my own choice. When his co-workers saw my doctor set and police set, they laughed, ‘Wow! You’re certainly not a girly girl.’
Beam’s been making most of the choices for herself ever since she was born. Family and friends were worried… because she stopped wearing dresses and skirts at around the age of 3, and she’s never into things like Barbie or Hello Kitty (Dora the Explorer is probably the “girliest” character she’s ever shown some interest in… All the way, she prefers ‘boyish’ stuff like Ben10 and Spiderman, and animals).
Meanwhile, she kept her hair long which is regarded as a ‘girly’ thing in this society. When she first decided to have it cut (age of 5), people asked me, ‘How did you make her?’ The truth is I never did, never do and never will. She felt it was too hot; simple as that. And I can’t tell you how many of her kindergarten friends had been so jealous of her being able to decide on her own look, ‘Aww… I wish Mummy would allow me to keep my hair long too!! But she said it’s too troublesome.’ I’m still baffled — Certainly a pony tail is very easy to do, yuh? That’d been Beam’s trademark for years.
When she was in primary school, though PE lessons were her favourite (which often got cancelled for no reason), a school day with PE lesson was quite unbearable. Imagine in a tropical country like Singapore, girls have to wear a skirt outside of their PE shorts still. Beam asked me, ‘Why is it those female teachers can wear trousers while we have to put on a skirt? Why is it they can let their hair down however they want while we must tie ours up or cut it short?’ Well, because, unfortunately, many adults consider themselves superior.
I never understand how stereotyping works. Such stupid and counterproductive mindset, but still, it’s the mainstream. We once discussed the differences between men and women in class. I wondered out loud why we must put the focus on ‘gender’ and why we can’t just treat every person like an ‘individual’ regardless their gender. My male teacher straight away responded, ‘Well, that sounds very female actually.’ @_@
Well, just glad that Beam’s finally a Summerhillian where she’s free to be who she is. The best decision we’ve ever made for ourselves!!
Had a lucky happy day!
After dropping Beam off, I went for my walk because I wouldn’t be able to make it for my 10:30 Japanese lesson if I joined my fellow Wabas for morning run. I was thinking about skipping it at first (What a good excuse! XD), but then, I got so fed up by the verb transformations. I said to myself, ‘If I don’t get out of it now, I’m gonna murder the first human I see!’
It went well. This time, no interruption at all. Just Mother Nature and me — the way it should be. Though I love and truly enjoy running with my fellow Wabas, like what many of the test results have revealed, I need joys of solitude in my life as well.
I managed to shower before going out again for my Japanese lesson. As usual, Charleelee greeted me with his dole eyes and friendly furry snuggles when I arrived. Though the newly-learnt verb transformations are killing me, my lovely sensei Hai Ying is kind and patient as ever. However lame I am in class, stuttering the ridiculously wrong answers most of the time, Sensei just laughs in a very caring and encouraging way which really puts me at ease.. though I still can’t help cursing ‘Bloody Japanese!’. I know I’m free to be silly, even dumb, in front of her ^_^
It was very enjoyable to be Sensei’s ‘prop’ for Miss & Mr Lithuania. To be truthful, it’s way more difficult to put what we learn into practice orally. Probably the hardest part of language learning for so many of us. Well, Miss & Mr Lithuania, 我們一起加油吧！（wo men yi qi jia you ba!）一緒に頑張ってみましょう！
After lesson, I dropped by Leiston Lodgings as promised. Ying Zi is leaving early tomorrow for the 100th day of her father’s passing. She invited me over for lunch. I had to decline. I didn’t want to trouble her as I had an appointment with my optometrist at 12:30. So I told her I’d be happy just to see her and have a chat. But Ying Zi was thoughtful enough to prepare lunch anyway. A lovely surprise. Ying Zi, I wish you and BB a pleasant trip back home and a wonderful summer holiday!
It must’ve been more than three years since I last had my eyes checked. However, I didn’t expect it to be so thorough here, which is very different from what I experienced in Taiwan and Singapore. The result: My eyes are very healthy apart from the fact that I’m very short-sighted. (When she broke this to me, I on one hand felt relieved, on the other hand, couldn’t help laughing XD)
I had a great time choosing a frame with the assistance of my optician Bob who’s in his early 60s. It was the very first time I heard about my ‘wide-set’ eyes. I’m 38 going 39, and I had no idea. Never. All the way, I thought I just had a big head which gave me problem when I looked for a frame that suited its size and shape. Life’s indeed a never-ending learning process eh! Bob told me that this was the funnest (haha funny, not strange funny *bleh*) day for him because of me. Aww… :3
As I was walking home slowly with groceries, someone called me from behind. It was a mid-aged man driving a van. I thought he was lost and asking for direction. But hell no, he was trying to sell me something — The back of his van was filled with osteopathic mattresses. How bizarre is that? And the most intriguing part is that I AAAMMM looking for a new mattress because the old IKEA one collapsed some time ago!
After Maisie soiled it, I’ve been using the cheap single mattress on my bedroom floor. As Sushi Queen pointed out that good mattresses are always pricey, I planned to do more research and get it done only after we return to Leiston in mid-September. But thanks to this bizarre incident, I got a good King-sized mattress for only 220 quid — Actually, I didn’t have enough cash at home so had to run to the ATM machine. I bumped into Dani on my way out.
‘Have you found Maisie yet?’ Dani asked. She and her husband own one of my favourite cafes in town, Simply Delicious. They kindly shared their space on Facebook for me to post about Maisie.
She went on telling me how she heard from a friend that there have been some cat poisoning cases in our neighbouring towns. Frankly, what a daunting thought… But, I want to focus on the positive side — This is a very kind gesture of hers. People actually care enough to stop and ask. That’s the magic of Leiston!
And while I thought this is the end of a lucky happy day… (I have happy days most of the time, but they’re not necessarily lucky ^_^) God proved that you can never have too much luck.
For dinner, Beam somehow decided to try the organic burger mix I bought at SD quite a while ago. As she was cooking, I went to the bin to clean the green waste and saw John, who was inspecting his immaculately beautiful garden. He just mowed our lawn for us yesterday afternoon.
‘Helloooo ~’, I smiled.
‘Hello, Ja! How’re you doing?’, John walked toward me, smiling.
‘Good. Good. Thank you. When does Beam’s summer holiday start?’
‘Are you doing anything then?’
‘Actually, we’re going back to Singapore on 8 August. I’ll fly to Taiwan from there for a 10-day trip. Then at the end of it, the three of us are visiting Hong Kong. We lived in HK for six months so it’s sort of like a reminiscence trip.’
I saw the curiosity and concern in his eyes which reminded me of a conversation we had last summer (https://maomeeja.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/%E4%BD%9C%E8%87%AA%E5%B7%B1-be-yourself/), and promptly reassured him, ‘Oh, we’re definitely coming back! This is our home and we love you guys!’
He beamed, ‘Good! Good! Make sure you come back, okay? You come back!’
He then went on asking how Beam’s doing at school, telling me that he knows Zoe and Tony very well because he worked on the road surface for Westward Ho. (John is a civil engineer.)
‘It’s essential allowing children the freedom to live their own life, not being pushed by the parents. You know, I’m in my 70s and I’m still working. I enjoy the buzz being around people, but very often, I get astounded by those university kids’ lack of capacity and ability of independent thinking. They may have learnt a lot of theories, but they’re totally ignorant of practical knowledge.’, obviously, the thought of it filled him with dismay.
I sighed, because this is part of the reason I decided to take Beam here, ‘Same in Asia… probably even worse there. Boey is a designer and he teaches design at a polytechnic as well. Designers are supposed to be thinkers too, but more often than not, the students just go to him and ask, “So, what do you want me to do now?” They’re simply used to having the life arranged and managed by their parents and other authority figures.’
John nodded, ‘You know, Beam’s very special. Seriously, she impresses me every time we talk. You can ask Jenny. I’m not saying this for your cakes, honest! She looks into your eyes, she listens and you can tell that she thinks before she speaks. And she’s always so earnest. Coming to Summerhill is really the best decision ever you’ve made for her… And by the way, thank you ever so much for the Victoria sponge cake! The cream and strawberries… aww… that was absolutely lovely!!’
This cracked me up XD I accidentally froze the cream and strawberries, and the cake ended up a little bit soggy.
But, John’s always thoughtful and kind, ‘No! No! It was very good! Loved it!’
As I waved good night, I knew I just had to jot all these down. I’d like to remind myself of the importance of being grateful for all that I have, and to always remember how to appreciate all the fine (many times small or even tiny as well) details in life.
Here’s to many more lucky happy days!!
Decided to bring my phone along and use MapMyRun for my walk this morning.
Funny though, my workout was stopped twice in the first 10 minutes. Mind you, this is normally quite a solitary journey with only Mother Nature by my side.
One of the pauses was for Katharine, my elegantly quirky Irish neighbour, who was waiting for the bus to Aldeburgh when I passed by. We chatted for about 10 minutes until her bus arrived. She told me how she was talking to a friend of hers about me just the other day.
I grinned nervously and jokingly grabbed her arm, ‘Good or bad?’
She laughed, ‘Good. Of course good. And she commented that you sound like a spiritual person. I said yes, you are. Such a lovely character.’
I gasped. Me? Spiritual? No kidding eh? All the way, I thought, to be spiritual, you have to be a good philosopher who thinks a hell lot. I don’t really think that much to be honest, not even when times get rough. I just live. Live — accordingly.
When I was in primary school and junior high, corporal punishment was still the norm for all sorts of ‘crimes’, such as failing your test (The full mark is 100 and that was what you were supposed to get. But if somehow instead you got 88, that’d be 12 strokes of cane for you. Most of the time, they landed on your palms; but sometimes, the teacher preferred your rear end for it. I was once hit so hard that only the first stroke made me almost topple over). As we were lining up for the caning, some of my friends would get so frightened and started crying. Or, when it was their turn, some just instinctively shied away from the cane out of extreme fear, which always infuriated the teacher and they ended up getting hit much harder.
Well, I never cried, nor did I shy away. I wasn’t brave or anything. I was scared stiff like everybody else, but I just wanted this to end as soon as possible. So, with my palms facing up, I grit my teeth. However, those teachers didn’t like this attitude, either. They reckoned that was a sign of rebellion and disrespect (because I wasn’t showing enough fear?) and I ended up like those friends of mine. The way I see it — They were simply a bunch of sadists. We defenceless kids were easy targets.
So you see, I just live. Don’t really think. I’m not exactly an intelligent person and living accordingly actually has helped me survive throughout the years.
Another thing is, I guess I’m just not crazy about the word ‘spiritual’. It just so happens that many of those I know who claim to be spiritual are in fact so insecure and unhappy with their own life that they just can’t help being judgemental and critical (in the name of spirituality or whatever bull they say). In short, they feel the need talking down to you so as to make themselves look good and feel good. How spiritual can you be if you don’t even care to live and let live??
But of course, ‘spiritual’ can be a good word if you’re on the ‘right’ track, I suppose, haha ~ Nevertheless, I’m very flattered. Thanks a million, Katharine ^_^
I had to discard and set a new log every time I was stopped. So, here’s another lesson learnt today: Don’t care too much about the workout log. Just enjoy it and whatever comes along.
In short, live!!
“I’ll never allow my online persona to get mixed up with who I am in reality. So, no way would I meet up with any of them.”
Five years on, yet I can still recall the aggressive tone in her voice when she said these words. That was when I first realised how internet addiction can totally destroy a person (with the benefit of hindsight of course).
Though she’d been acting so warm and welcoming when the fellow bloggers excitedly talked about the possibility of having a “real” gathering, that was what she said to me. She then went on criticising some of them, who are our mutual (online) friends. She even bashed a lady who happened to blog about the same topic as I did, calling her a shameless copycat. I obviously annoyed her to hell when I tried to disagree.
Creating an online persona can be a good creative outlet and I’m sure everyone can be perceived somewhat different from the person in reality anyway. But, if you don’t like a person, for whatever reason, just stay away, whether it’s online or in reality. Live and let live. Simple as that. Why do you have to pretend to be their friends but behave so differently behind their back? When she told me about how she was just “doing them a favour” by visiting their blogs and leaving comments, I couldn’t believe my ears. What had happened to the lovely girl I used to know?
When you tell a lie, surely you’ll need one more lie to cover the first one, then one more, one more, and many, many more… How exhausting is that? (So you see, it’s not always bad being too laid-back and not brainy enough like me. My life is certainly way much simpler — in a very pleasant way most of the time, haha~) What’s more, as Abraham Lincoln put it ever so wisely: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
In short, as Peter Parker’s Aunt May says, “Secret has a cost. They are not for free.”
It inevitably came to the point where they turned out to be more and more manipulative and I finally decided to back away. It’s never right if I have to put myself down so as to maintain a relationship. The intriguing part is these people assume (either this or they simply make it up to suit their purpose) you’re just jealous of them if you dare to voice yourself. It’s illogic to me — A truly happy person would never live a life filled with lies. What’s there to be jealous of?
To be truthful, I did feel sad about letting go because for me, friends are for life. But I’ve learnt that it’s fine to acknowledge that we can outgrow our friends. After all, my choice of friends says something about how I view and define myself and the world.
People are always surprised to see how frank I am about my life, warts and all, particularly online. Well, honesty makes my life so much simpler and easier. So what’s wrong with that?
中央社 – 2013年2月11日 下午12:34
柏林洪堡大學（Humboldt University）資訊系統研究所研究人員克拉斯諾娃（Hanna Krasnova）說：「許多人瀏覽臉書時產生嫉妒情緒，因而感到孤單、沮喪或憤怒等負面經驗，而且人數多到讓我們驚訝。」
Last night, I finally resumed my whole stretching workouts. Having come down (literally) with the flu two weeks ago, I’d been too worn-out, so I had to reduce it to just crunches and a couple of floor movements. Savouring every moment of the contraction and release of my muscles, I could feel my body was shouting for joy. The same goes for my badly missed yoga routine this morning.
It’d been ages since I last fell ill, so I’d forgot how horrible the physical torment can be. One day, I was even forced to take a nap in the afternoon. Mind you, in normal times, I don’t nap and can’t nap, because it just makes me dizzy. Rarely do I feel tired during the day anyway.
I’m just grateful that this happened when he’s visiting us here. Being the sole caregiver of Beam Beam’s ever since she was born, this is the thing that worries me the most — Who’s gonna take care of Beam Beam if I fall sick?
He happily recounted how he told Steve that he’s THE slave since I got sick.
Slave? Mm… I thought to myself: I still cook, still hoover, still do laundry, still clean the kitchen and bathroom every day… What he really took over from me is being Beam’s “chaperone”. Men do have a wacky sense of humour *eyes rolling*~
To be fair, men aren’t really helpful, but indeed, better than nothing. And I’m not taking it for granted.
I’m truly grateful. Thank you, God!
這兩個多星期以來，一直病懨懨的，臨睡前都沒有多餘精力作全套的放鬆運動，頂多就是 crunches 和幾項地板運動，每天早晨的瑜珈也是。昨晚開始，終於又能回復正常了，那種氣血通暢的感覺，我想是只有吃了人參果的孫悟空才能了解。
只是，那天聽他喜孜孜轉述自己如何跟 Steve 提到因為我生病而得來的「奴隸」身份，令人不禁感嘆，男人的幽默感常常很古怪，原來這樣就夠格稱作奴隸，那我們這些真正做事的主婦。。。？？
Although there was some strange feeling inside of me, I didn’t think I would end up crying. It just didn’t feel like it. We were cool. So cool. Anyway, I’ve done that in my dream the night Mum decided to go for an early departure due to the third anniversary of Dad’s passing, which, traditionally, marks the official ending of mourning.
But, when we embraced each other to say goodbye, some immense sadness suddenly gushed out in a raging torrent of tears. Mum was shaking too, I could feel… I didn’t wanna let go and simply wished I had the magic to turn this embrace into eternity. Because, deep down, I feared that I might not be able to do this ever again.
Thirty-seven months ago, it just happened. And right at this moment, I can still recall the warmth and softness so vividly. That was the farewell hug from Dad, the man of my life. The picture of Dad waving gently at us with a somewhat baffled smile on his face as we slowly drove away is forever etched in my mind. I never knew it would turn out to be our very last hug. It’s even more heartbreaking when Mum recounted how Dad, who was diagnosed of the early stage of Alzheimer’s, mumbled afterwards, “Where’s everybody gone? Why do they have to leave?”
I don’t know why I had to leave. I would give up everything that I ever thought meant anything to me if I could have one moment with Dad. But, the truth is, I not only left but ended up thousands of miles away.
Brother John, who’s been our “chauffeur” throughout the years, sighed during one trip to the airport, “I don’t know how you managed to take it. I know I can’t.”
Well, I never want to take it. I don’t even quite know why the hell I made myself…
But, I suppose that’s just how life works — Accept your responsibilities for what happened and learn something useful from the experience.
Thank you, Summerhill, Beam Beam and Mr Boey, for this opportunity of self-healing. I didn’t have the chance to be the most authentic version of myself until we moved to Leiston.
And most of all, thank you, God, for the life.
送機當天，雖然心裡有著些許無以名狀的異樣感 — 總之就是有點空蕩蕩的、類似失了魂吧 — 其餘一切倒是平安順利，和媽媽照常咭哩呱啦個不停，開開心心地攻擊食物。還竊喜呢：這樣很好，咱們基督徒就是要盡力歡喜地活下去！
至今，我還不是很明白，自己究竟為甚麼離開 — 不但離開，還飄揚過海千里之外。
不去想了。生命就是這麼一回事吧，擔負起應當的責任，從錯誤中學習。 神的意念高於我們的意念，我要努力學習 神給我的課題。
On Monday evening, when I picked Beam up, Pascale walked to me with a concerned look on her face, ‘How are you? Are you okay?’
It’d been quite a while since I last saw this lovely French lady as I let him take over this job throughout his visit here.
I smiled, ‘Yup. And you?’
‘Good, good,’ she nodded with a smile as well. But soon the smile turned a bit uneasy as if she was dealing with some thorny issue, ‘So… Everything okay? Between you two?’
I didn’t think much initially, because she’s been aware of my situation since last summer when I had to ask her, Pat and the school to watch out Beam for me as Beam was gonna spend two weeks with him alone while I had to return to Singapore first.
‘We were fine,’ my turn to nod.
I went on to tell how he seemed to be really changing and improving and Beam actually cried after the cab had left.
‘I think it’s a good sign,’ I concluded.
She heaved a sigh of relief, ‘That’s good! That’s good! Because Beambeam’s been looking kind of upset for a few days last week, I thought maybe something had happened at home and she was worried. I did not want to ask her or him. Finally I see you today…’
Well, I have to say that Pascale is really the ideal houseparent for San Kids although her very straightforward communication style might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Extra patience and thoughtfulness, together with the caring attitude, are necessary when it comes to dealing with little kids. Thanks a million, Pascale!!
Actually, friends have been showing concern, ‘So how were you guys?’
The fact that Beam cried for 25 minutes after the cab had gone gave me mixed feelings. Beam’s never a cry baby and this was only her 2nd time even though we’ve been through a lot of farewells throughout the years. Her first being with her beloved Gong Gong and Po Po in Taiwan and that was the last time we saw Dad.
On the other hand, I was glad to see the bond between the father and daughter – finally! I should be proud of myself for being a decent mother who has never used the problems between us to turn Beam against the father and the grandmother. I do work hard on it though for years I’ve been feeling very unappreciated. And the words such as ‘She’s worth nothing to me. NOTHING, you know? I’m gonna kill her if she ever breaks my laptop because my laptop’s worth way more than she is.’ (Mind you, these were not his angry words. He did it with a deliberate sneer which was meant to hurt me for no reasons, which happened quite often in the past) are still very hurtful whenever I think of it.
That day, Beam was having a piggyback ride on me while the cab slowly moving away. When it finally went out of sight, I put her down and realised that the tears had been streaming down her tubby cheeks.
Looking at her sad doe eyes which now resembled a flooded amber lake and the delicate little face, my tears rolled down, too. I recalled how she hasn’t been able to spend quality time with own father like normal kids do ever since she was born.
It was his indifference towards our deep sorrow at the dysfunctional family life (And guess what has caused it?!) and his inability to deal with himself honestly that had pushed us further and further away. For a long time, I thought that there was something wrong with me for ‘earning’ this kind of treatment from my own partner. That side of so-called ‘family’, including him, blamed me for almost everything which made me feel that I was nothing but a failure.
After we walked back into the house, I grabbed a bath towel and sat down on the staircase, with Beam still burying her tearful face in my arms. Gently, I wrapped the towel around her small body and cuddled her the way I did when she was a baby.
Well… here we are, again, just you and me, Tro Tro. Be strong. Baba’s visiting next March. It shall not be long…
Nowadays, whenever I have spare time, I either study for the exam or re-edit my blogs. I first started blogging on a Chinese website 7+ years ago.
After Beam and I moved to England two years ago, I found WordPress more user-friendly, and have been updating both at the same time. To make my world on WordPress more complete, I decided to copy the old entries published before our move onto here.
It’s quite a complex emotional process really. By re-reading the words, I get to replay the scenes in my head. There are a lot of very sweet moments particularly when Beam was involved which brings a reminiscent smile to my face. But, inevitably, there are moments of sadness.
Such as one night in Singapore, when I was trying to talk with him, ever so calmly and empathetically. Instead of treating me the same way, he picked up a cleaver and started wielding it within inches of my face, telling me how he was capable of taking my life if he wanted to.
As usual, when I blogged it, I laughed it off. In fact, I did a lot of just that, because… I believe that when you love someone, you would always try your best finding a way to make the conflicts productive rather than destructive.
But the truth is, up to now, I can still recall that scene clearly (very unfortunately) — I didn’t panic and nor did I get frightened. It was the immense sorrow that I was feeling then, because of the anger and hatred in his eyes. What did I do? What did Beam do?
Then, the other day, this picture on Facebook caught my eyes.
Afterwards, for quite a few nights, I’d had bad dreams. That was something Beam went through. She hadn’t even turned one yet at that time. As her mother, how could I allow this to happen before my very eyes? All the way, I know and I believe that the key to making a marriage last all boils down to kindness and respect (which comes naturally with true love), not ridiculous oppression. So why?
No. I will not let this kind of shit happen again. Never ever.
God, thank you for all I have. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to find myself again.
最近只要有空，除了準備考試，就是小白兔搬家 — 把過去七年的舊文章，從另一個雲之南搬家來這裡。
實情是，我平心靜氣地關心他，卻被他嗆聲，然後拿起了菜刀 — 距離我的臉只有幾公分 — 揮舞著：你信不信我敢砍你！！我說砍就砍！！
Have been in quite a good mood, particularly every morning when I first get up, landing my eyes on the breathtaking picture of Darsham by Jason Avery, which stands under the window sill. It never fails to bring a big smile on my face.
About two weeks ago, I read about this professional photographer in Coastal Scene. I’m very ignorant when it comes to the arts, but I enjoy beautiful pictures — the type that makes me feel a pounding in my heart at first glance. Unfortunately, school hasn’t started yet, meaning I’m not able to attend the exhibitions he’s having in the neighbouring towns. Nevertheless, always good to support local artists. So I logged on and visited his website http://www.jaysargo.com/
Loved what I saw, especially the ones at Gallery E. I fell immediately for the beautiful simplicity conveyed by the compositions which enables you to focus on the purity and clarity in life. Feeling so connected to it, I happily shared the link with Shania, one of those whom I regard as family in Singapore.
‘Very pretty. But very cold… Has it got something to do with your recent emotions?’ wondered Shania.
Frankly, it didn’t come across as being ‘cold’ to me at all though I’ve been disturbed by something. I thought it looked very dreamy, in a fantasy or fairy tale way.
After much consideration, I decided that this would be the birthday gift for myself. So I emailed Mr Avery to see if a cash payment would be possible. I do have a PayPal account, but, to tell the truth, with mine being a sub-card, I just don’t want to be hassled by the main card holder. He once proclaimed, ‘I’ve got money. I AM THE KING!’
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve never taken anything for granted and I’m forever grateful for what he has provided for us. All I’m asking for is simply some basic respect. Throughout the years, whenever we spent money, it would have to be something that was in favour with him, even if Beam or I was the one who needed it or used it, not him.
I recall one incident happened while we were living in Hong Kong. That day, I made purchase of a few DHC cosmetic products. They were all basic cosmetics and nothing fancy. But because I rarely spent this kind of money, I apologised to him, saying that I would pay him back later.
He stared at me furiously, ‘Fuck you!!!’
This kind of sorry episodes only started to cease after Beam and I moved to England.
Anyway, much to my delight, Mr Avery offered to deliver the items in person and I could make a cash payment then.
He brought along some other pictures for me to see and feel. We looked at the pictures for 30 minutes and then chitchatted over tea for another 1½ hours. Such an inspirational young man to talk to. He’s probably the only person I’ve met that actually switches off the power completely when not in use, just like me. Sometimes, people even laugh at this little eco-habit of mine. Moreover, we both started to ‘live’ again and find ourselves in Suffolk.
After he left, I decided to place one of the pictures under my bedroom window sill. It came as a very pleasant surprise that the colour coordination works well with my yoga mat which is forever on my bedroom floor. It’s meant to be!
This picture in fact reminds me of a picture I used to have on my wall back in the old apartment at Chung Yang Street (Taiwan). That was before I started to fall for 80s’ J-pop and cover the walls with all the posters of J-pop idols. It was a lush green trail embellished with blooming flowers in a high mountain on a clear day.
‘So beautiful!’ I exclaimed.
Dad nodded, ‘It is. But… melancholy.’
I can still recall the way he gazed at the picture at that moment. I was too young to understand.
Years later, when I visited his hometown in the high, high mountain (Yunnan Province, China — next to Vietnam, Myanmar and Tibet) with him and Mum, looking at the surroundings, I then realised that all these looked almost the same as that picture on my wall. Dad was forced to leave home when he was only 9 because of the civil war. He used to tell me how he, for years, had had the same dream — in the dream, he was back there, right in front of the house where he was born and had a life until he was 9, but he was too afraid that his different political stand would get his family in trouble, so he just hid behind the big tree in front of the house and kept peeping at the gate, hoping that someone would come out eventually.
It’s kind of funny to think how we’re both immigrants who left everything behind though obviously under different circumstances.
Well, happy as can be every time I pass by these two beautiful pictures. Feels good to be my own person. Happy birthday to me in advance ^_^
這幾天早晨起床，瞥見窗台下的攝影作品，都特別開心。那是我上周五向本地攝影師 Jason Avery 買的其中一幅作品，拍攝地點是 Darsham，離 Leiston 不遠。
兩個星期前，在 Coastal Scene 讀到了這位新進的專業攝影師，目前正在巡迴展覽。老娘向來是個跟藝術沾不上邊的傢伙（無知嘛，哈哈～），但是，綺旎的風景，總能令我怦然心動！可惜的是，祥還沒開學，我也沒辦法去看展覽。不過，本地藝術家是一定要支持的，所以，拜訪了他的網站。
感覺很好，簡簡單單，讓人體悟生命所能擁有的純與真。其中，Gallery E 最得我心。
小菜問，很美，不過是不是跟心境有關？感覺冷冷的。不問我還沒注意到 — 的確，多看幾眼，似乎有點蒼涼 — 雖然我近日的確有些煩心的事；但，我其實是覺得很夢幻，甚至有點童話故事的意味。
太 喜歡了，於是發了伊媚兒，想知道能不能現金交易。我可以試著用 PayPal，但是呢，我一點都不想聽主卡持有人的連篇廢話，而且，用自己點滴攢下來的私房錢，心裡踏實多了。這個家裡，依他說的，有錢就是統治者，有 錢＝賺錢的人。我不是個沒良心、不知感恩的傢伙，我只是希望自己能受到尊重。這麼多年來，花錢一定得依著他的好惡，即便真正使用的人是我或祥祥。
住香港的時候，一天，我刷卡買了幾件 DHC 的保養品，雖然都是日常用品，可是因為很少這麼花錢，我跟他說，真不好意思，我會把錢還給你。他惡狠狠地瞪著我：「Fuck you!!!」
當 天，他帶了好些作品來展示，我們欣賞了半個小時，之後喝茶聊天了一個半小時。很可愛的一個人，像他的作品一樣，滿率真的。而且，很開心，我們在環保方面頗 為有志一同，他大概是第一個我所遇到跟我一樣，只要不用就會徹底關閉電源的。另一點雷同，就是我們都在 Suffolk 重新體悟了生命，找回自己。
這 兩幅作品，讓我回想起，小時候在中央街老公寓的臥室，在我開始瘋狂迷上日本偶像之前，牆壁上貼了幾張很美的風景照。印象很深刻，其中有一張，是晴空萬里下 蔥綠的山徑點綴著鮮豔的花叢；我跟爸爸說，好漂亮喔！爸爸點點頭說，真的很漂亮，不過有點蒼涼。。。當時年紀小不懂，現在想想，其實那張照片，很像我在雲 南山上老家所見到的景色。開放探親，是多年之後的事，所以，也許，那真的反應了爸爸當時對於家鄉的心境。