Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

The Art Of Listening Is Dead

The art of listening is an intricate one. Does one listen to the constant nagging of a spouse? Recorded at 33rpm but played a 100 times over and over again? If you are married and live under the same roof you have to.

My primary school teacher used to teach us students in class by saying that we listen but do not hear! She is correct as one can drone on and drone assuming the other party is listening and hearing. Sadly, the latter is never true.

Amongst parents with children too – parents do not listen nor hear. They claim they do. They seems to know what is “best” for a child, but do they? Not all parents are savvy investors. Yet, they pretend they are and most times fail miserably. Failure is fine if invested amount is chop change but not when it has six zeros in the amount ūüė¶

I have given up listening and hearing. I refuse to listen and hear given the same is not reciprocated. Further, it is tiring to pretend to listen and so I literally tell parties to shut up and walk away. Rude? Probably – but I needed to protect my own sanity.

Sanity is fragile at this stage of my life. I have too many balls juggled into the air that I must make a conscientious decision to shut out and stop taking more balls as there  is just so much that my two tiny hands can juggle at any one time.

I wish I could practise obvious disregard. I have been unable to do just this, unlike my siblings who excel in it. I wish I had their nonchalance and disregard for the rest of the world that does not encroach onto their precious lives.

My siblings are able to switch off to things they choose to ignore. Cold and callous but I envy them, as with it, they have decided what fits into their life and what does not. Selfish but smart.

I am in a quandary – call it mid life¬†crisis for the 10th time. Each time I have overcome. Each time I have made huge sacrifices. Perhaps it is time for me to stop making sacrifices for others and think of myself just once. I am tired of being the strong one. I am even more fed up as being branded and stereo typed as “oh she is strong, she will overcome” – it seems no one cares other than to let me sort out the problems others bring to me.

I had spent the last week taking stock of my achievements in life. Not a whole lot. A lot more is felt in the pain and suffering I went through. Literally, physical pain and suffering besides psychological pain and trauma.

I marvelled at how I could pick self off the ground to start living after being ejected from a house I thought was home. It is hard to be the black sheep of the family – not because I was a tyrant but I was politically ousted.

I struggled in those days, keeping two jobs before heading home to a simple meal and to start the next day again. I guess my body is protesting now as the hardship I went through is finally taking its toll on my body.

I remember working 2 full shifts at work before ending the weekend with assignment jobs. It was tough and I successfully managed to put a roof over my head and food on the table.

During this while, my one parent and 2 siblings forgot my existence. No one offered me a helping hand other than my mother whom I was told had to put up with the political fights at home as she sneaked out to visit me.

How do I begin to forgive this parent and siblings? I continued on to be a sibling on call if needed. Perhaps to these selfish beings, I am their “person” to sought out if they need help.

I continue to pay the bills of these two siblings – will generosity and kindness overcome their hearts to be a sibling to me? I do not know and will not want to go down that path. I do not remember a thank you for paying their bills or an inkling to say “hey I will pay your back”- it silently became my portfolio of cost.

Being giving, makes me a fool I think. Like Beng, he too is the one who gives to his siblings. In a way, I am akin to him. But sometimes giving takes its toll.

I have hardened against my views on life. I will still continue to give my best but this time, I know that whatever I give, falls into an abyss.

My siblings are not an impoverished lot. It is about choices and how they choose to spend. One can always moan there are insufficient funds. But if they choose to allot their funds for their own use and not considering the needs of others, then are they poor or selfish?

Does poverty make them more discerning in their expenses? Or lifestyle changes? I do not see this.

Yet, they laugh at me for when I eat humbly and stingily – petty pennies a might ocean make! I have done this and have kept doing this. Yet, I do not bat an eyelid when I have to delve deep into my pockets to pay for nice meals, a vacation or a good time – all in the name of a “family”

I find it hard to feel that I have a family. Perhaps in name or as in a label. I suppose my youngest sibling would be trying as I was grateful for his help when I was ill. My intent was not for him to care for me but more so to ensure my parents were not inconvenienced. Fact is, once I was discharged, he left. I felt that I would need help most after discharge but sadly that is the time he chose to leave.

Thankfully I had the support of strangers who took me for my follow up doctors’ appointments. Did he listen? Did he hear? He listened but did not hear.

I suppose it can be said that who asked me to be ill? It is not in their schedule to fit into my illness. Yes, I am to blame and not they.

Strangers seem better than family – I seem to feel that. Strangers offer care and assistance when in need. Not my family.

So what is a family? Not a whole lot. Is this the failure of my parents to create a nurturing and caring environment? I believe it is the failure of my father. He chose to be politically motivated by the other two children and chose to make my life difficult. Well, he has succeeded but I am around for concluding my role as a child.

Such is the dichotomy of life. I will never be a parent much less a spouse. I doubt I can ever be a good spouse as spouse like qualities I see in my parents are not something I wish to emulate. As for children, they are a bane to earth. If I ever bring forth selfish children or children who create a living hell for their siblings, would that be a fair choice?

I am cynical. I am despondent. I am truly fed up. I have so much anger and animosity for the people who drive me to this state of mind. I do not believe in friendships or family. Still I will do the needful to fulfil my role and move on.

My biggest enemies are the people whom I cared for the most. Only my enemies whom I cared for the most will kill me in one fell swoop!

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Why I Miss Beng!

A large part of my life went through hardships and solitude. During those horrid years, Beng came into my life.

Though Beng did not show self to be wealthy, he shared whatever he had with me.

I laughed. I cried. I quarrelled. I fought. I did all these with Beng as he showed me Singapore.

Beng never looked down on me. Unlike my siblings, Beng seemed to care.

I saw Beng almost daily. Each time we met, we had heaps of laughter.

We found solace in each other’s comfort. He sought me to escape his worries. We spoke. We confided.

But at the end of 26 years, Beng disappeared. I do not know if this void of bantering or laughter can ever be filled. Beng always said that if I called, he will be there.

Beng is never ever to appear before me. He can’t. He is dead.

Will Beng live on in my memories?

I suppose so as there are so many things that remind me of Beng.

Sadly, Beng once told me he would grow old with me.

Can I survive the loss of Beng? Will the sound of his Beng laughter be replaceable?

Beng was around whenever I was down or felt in need of a bout of cheer.

I am still reeling from his loss. My burden is heavy and Beng is not around to lighten my load or comfort me as to why siblings are not truly my siblings.

For years, I grew up without sibling care. I had only sadness and hurt from my siblings. Perhaps one day my siblings will turn around and miss me and say sorry for making my growing up years miserable.

Maybe…..just maybe….

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Simple Ramen Meal

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I bought this in one of the retail shops at Novena City.

Korean Soap that come in dvds have greatly permeated the lives of Singaporeans. I am but one who is hooked in it.

Though I have not much time to spend in a day to watch such soaps, I manage to plough through 15-20 discs after a few months.

The food of Koreans are yummy.

I tried this ramen in two ways. One with just shitake mushrooms and onions with seaweed. The other with mince pork, golden needle mushrooms & shitake mushrooms. Both turned out well.

Portions are huge and for me a packet serves two portions.

You got to try it to appreciate a bit of Korean.

3 weeks ago I had “bimbup” (probably spelt wrongly) rice with my sister. It is $8.80 per pax buffet style. My first taste of it. Healthy and yummy!

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My Daily Work Moan

It is not that I¬†ran out of ideas or think thoughts to write today. But it is the fury of my colleague S Man’s that prompted me to write this. S Man has been threatening his resignation for the last 3 months. To date, he has yet to submit his resignation letter. He claims that on 1st October 2013, his letter of resignation would be given to his Line Manager.

Between the time he started his winds of change, the entire business fraternity got wind of his impending departure from the firm. His Line Manager is rather patient as business associates would ask him to confirm the “rumour”. No action has been taken against S Man although he is in a senior position.

S Man has been wiling away his time, doing his Houdini acts and not coming in to work on time. He has been taking it easy for some 3 months now. So, when at the regular heads of department meeting he was ragged by his Line Manager, he stormed into my room for some therapy.

In S Man’s view the shift in time line for his work was something unbearable.¬† All I could do was give him a listening ear!

I had enough problems of my own and to mess with his, was not my option to pursue. My therapy lasted 10 minutes and I sent him on his merry way.

My take on it – if you take salary from a company, the onus lies on the employee to deliver work expected. It is incorrect to skive or wile away time when others are working for their keep. Further, as professional etiquette, one does not bad mouth the hand that feeds you.

Perhaps I am antiquated in business practice or work ethics – but I maintain my personal stand. For me, I have accepted that at work, I toe party line and deliver the objectives expected of me – no more, no less. Each month, I will check my salary to ensure not a penny less or a penny more. I am satisfied. This is my role as an employee and my place in the office.

We are counting down to 1st October 2013…only then will we know S Man’s intent on the job front.

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Meaning Of Life – Clueless

Is there meaning in life? This is a perennial question that oft gets no answers.

Most times, I feel like a hamster running ceaselessly on my little wheel. True, many would say – go out and do something meaningful. Well, I did. I volunteered at organisations and still am an active volunteer. But even volunteers are not truly altruistic as many seek a favour in return – for e.g. getting priority entry into schools for their children or the chase of an award of sorts.

I could hear a parent anxiously mouthing the need to volunteer for the sake of a foothold into a particular school. Wherein lies the true value of voluntary work.

Another advice then rings out – get active in a church activity! Hmm, I was born a catholic (Catholics call people like us “cradle Catholics”), was truly pious (tongue in cheek I would say, I practically kneeled and prayed at churches so often that I must have scored brownie points with God and¬†his entourage of saints) before becoming a lapse Catholic and now totally “bo chap” Catholic!

So much for prayers! Sigh. it is either you have an unending trust in blind faith or you pick self up and get on with life. That is, you have got to bail yourself out of things – praying is not going to help you!

I often bemoaned the poor branding of the Catholic brand. Comparatively speaking, the Church of St Alphonsus struggled with its fund-raising whilst another church of Christian faith with a younger leader, more hip and punk like, raised funds in an instance. So what is religion? Following a charismatic leader or blind faith?

I am not one to be caught jumping up and down in a charismatic leadership style of prayer sessions. So much for motivational crap style of management theories. True, we all need to play a role at work, but I am one who is certainly not going to jump, scream and holler a war cry to break arrows or boards. If I wish to, there is this thing called, “martial arts” – I would be doing Karate, Hap ki do or Tae Kwon do. Bruce Lee would have been a better “God” for me to worship I suppose.

By now, I hope readers would be breaking into a smile or a snicker or two!

I was once told that I was a poor fit in a motivational boot camp at an MLM¬†event.¬† I brought negative vibes as I chose to sit stoically in my chair. The MLM ushers kept coming up to me to say to stand up and clap, scream etc. Brutal – but I ain’t gonna do it!

I listened to someone sharing with me his experience at an MLM¬†event a.k.a boot camp. He signed up because he thought he could learn and see if this was something he could dabble with for extra funds. He was put through a sleep deprivation process and the lead “spiritualist” came on stage to perform the best heart-rending sob story of his rags to riches story and had tears rolling out of his eyes as he screamed his lungs out in an auditorium. Dramatics would work for some but not all. Thankfully, this intelligent participant saw through the farce and decide to quit the program. As for the dramatic performer, the last I heard, was no longer worshipped. He tried to create a Godlike persona that does not almost always meet with the tastes and preferences of learners.

Failure is not a choice most times. But an option – the way I see it. The constant chase for money is unending. Question is, when is money ever enough? I have no answer really. If I did, I would have written a best seller and made a fortune selling my recipe of success and probably will be leading another “spiritual worship” creating a new cult of followers I suppose (tongue in cheek again).

I do believe that failure is the mother of success – what this means is, “crikey – learn from your mistakes and do not repeat it” – it does not mean that we “failures” can then get on stage and dramatize it, unless we can make a business from it.¬† Capital asset would be saliva and manpower time. Low stock holding and you get paid instantly and in advance. Great business models for dramatic motivational speakers.

By now, you will know that I am skceptical of motivational speakers. Do not get me wrong! I do read great business philosophy but in the privacy of my own space. I would love to listen to great statesman, especially Mr Lee Kuan Yew. His style suits me best. He is quiet with a huge ego and he has no space nor time for hoopla! He buckles down to get the job done! My hero!

Back to my question on meaning of life – is it about money? Is it about fame? Is it about being a good child; a filial one? A good spouse or parent? A religious or pious person?

Despite my 18 years of studying and earning two degrees before stopping after the mentally below average (MBA) stage and¬†forgetting the process of¬†getting my head permanently damaged “P hd = Permanent Head Damage” – I found no answer. I am unfortunately not enlightened at all!

Perhaps life is about conscience. it is about living up to your own levels of conscience. Harm and do not harm – Geez, businessmen tend to kill competition and wheel and deal most times. If they chose this mantra, the billionaires would not exist.

Look at George Soros, he manipulated the US dollar and made his wealth from it and he is on to his next wife! Life is good if you are a great businessman.

So, is every businessman evil? Not really as we would need their expertise, else great people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and the likes others would not have existed. As to how they do business, this is part and parcel of life I suppose in this dog eat dog world.

So, what is the true meaning of life?

I admit, I am clueless as happiness is transient and is not long sustaining. Little things can make one happy but for that second as the happiness index does not last. Heck, in my company the CEO said he is not in the business of making people happy at work!

So much for life’s meanings………….

 

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Green Fingers & Thumbs

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Avid Gardeners would often tell me that they have green fingers or thumbs. I looked earnestly at their hands, they all looked beige pink like skin would be on inside of palms and brown skin, freckled but like Asian skin tones. Green was not a color I could see.

This phrase of “green fingers” denotes one who plants anything and it thrives either in a pot or in a garden.

I must confess that I do not like gardening much. I dislike the itchy skin I would get if I walk through lallang or grass. Yes, I do have sensitive skin and it breaks out when I do. But I admire greenery.

I tried my hand at planting. Most shrubs like coleus or bamboo would die quite quickly after a while.

But soon I found what my green thumbs and fingers could do – cacti or money plant. These take little effort and are extremely hardy.

I would use organic fertiliser such as zoo poo to add onto the soil for my pot of cacti and as you can see, it is lusciously green and succulently green!

Other than letting it fend for itself, it does not need my care.

My money plant does well too. Happily creeping out of my pot, exploring new terrain as its creepers climb.

I always wanted to grow vegges, especially chye sim or bayam. But this would be a challenge and it is best I stick to cacti as it grows and expands its girth feeding in fresh air and sunshine ūüôā

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Meet Lucile McKenzie My Host Mum

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Lucile is my host mum in Eugene, Oregon. She is married to Allan Dean McKenzie my art history professor whom I took a class in ARH 205 in my first term as freshie in Winter.

Lucile, by her own profession is a historian and writes for Willamette publications. I remember she used to teach at Lane Community College.

She is a lovely host mum and practical. She does not mince words and is feisty. She taught me good American values. Not all things Americans are bad. Of course, their gun policy or drug policy is not great but there are good aspects of America. Not all are bad. She helped me see these through her eyes.

I remember her baking terrific pies for each meal she hosts me on weekends. I was over for thanksgiving once and I sampled her lovely coconut and yam pies. Gorgeous treats that lasted 5 minutes on the lips but forever on the hips!

Lucile loves her garden and has transformed it into a heritage garden. Its guests includes deers, racoons, chipmunks and other critters.

In summers, I use to enjoy sipping home made lemonade under the cool shade of a clump of bamboos, next to a stone sculpture of Buddha.

Rhodedenrons in pink or purple hues would blossom in magnificent bunches to add colors to the greenery, amidst the bird houses that provide food and shelter for migrant birds.

On another section of the garden stands a stone fountain which provides a watering hole for deers and critters wanting a frolic in the receptacle for a nice splosh.

If I do not remember incorrectly, a little man made river runs through the garden adding the traquil sounds of running water through the quiet sway of bamboo fronds as the winds ripple through.

The McKenzie garden is the hard work of both Lucile and Dean as every spring they spend their time in it, right through to Fall!

Lucile is a strong principled lady and I admire her love for her children, grand children and great grandchildren. She lost a nephew through the Iran/Iraq war and she made it quite clear what she thought of the Bush administration. I can hear her voice saying “bunch of idiots” – she often wished she could borrow our statesmen to turn around their deficit.

Singapore maybe a little red dot but hey this red dot is reknowned to great states like America and continents like Europe, Africa and Australia.

Proud moments like these remind me that I am a useful Singaporean, not a parasite to society nor a leech to social giveaways. On the contrary I subsidise others through tax dollars and am proud to do so.

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Trident Left Behind

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I had a fun time with this find at work. Colleagues made good stories with this picture.

A colleague said this was Poisedon’s trident. It broke when he was fighting a sea monster.

Another said it was Hot Stuff’s (cartoon character) trident. He left it there whilst he went on summer vacation.

A cheeky one said we could use it as a prop for halloween.

A bold one said Satan a. k.a Lucifer dropped by for a visit and left it to remind us of his presence. Unseen but around always!

Truth is, logistics with production had some left over steel and decided to fabricate a prong for fun!

Bunch of cheeky guys but hey when you have such foreign workers, all they have for fun is fabricating items for laughs!

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Kampong Spirit

45 neighbors closely knit is what I hope to achieve in the estate I live in.

I try to know as many as I can and in turn, promote the kampong spirit (akin to the village camaraderie spirit, each looking out for the other).

In so doing, I watched Lydia and Anthony’s 3 boys grow up into strong lads, learning wushu and enjoying splashing into the pool!

Well brought up and polite boys, they never fail to greet me in the lift or stop to say hello.

Vincent’s 3 girls are ladies now. One is a graduating doctor, another is a music teacher like her mother, Mary. The last girl is studying in Australia.

Jonathan’s a journalist and enjoys chatting when he has time.

Sau Fun teaches young children. She is a nice lady who cares about me and tends to cook extra to share a simple meal.

There’s Dawson, Dr Teo, Alice, Delise and the list goes on.

We get together every moon cake festival over a simple buffet with lanterns for kiddies, moon cakes from the famous Chinatown’s Tai Chong Kok, pomelo and tea!

It is good to have good neighbors. I appreciate the kampong spirit I try very hard to create and upkeep with each owner playing a critical role to contribute to this unique family atmosphere.

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Achar In Malay & Pickles In English

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I love pickles or anything that is sour. I must have a “sour” tooth as opposed to a “sweet” tooth as one oft quips!

Achar is a favorite appetizer of mine and I can wolf down a plateful as main course without need of anything else.

So when I was laid up in hospital, I told my “best” friend (Baskar, the butler) that I would love a plate. He is a good man as off he would go and get me some!

Being ill, I did not feel like eating anything as often my dining table would be returned without much eaten. My butler, true to his job description would try to entice me with snacks. He succeeded and found me enjoying a bite of a samosa, achar or curry puff!

He ventured on to get me plain pratas!

I once said I would not mind a spoon of Haagen Daz’s green tea ice cream. The next thing I knew, it appeared as a sweet for lunch. Such is the attentive state of Baskar’s ears. Baskar used to be the F&B Manager at Amara Hotel. He then joined the hospital to be the chief butler.

He shared with me that he had bought land in Chennai and planned to set up a restaurant in Chennai probably a fast food franchisee either Kentucky Fried Chicken or McDonald’s. He said probably chicken was better. A native Chennian, he was sound in business ideas and practical.

He further shared that friendship and money did not mix. Practical advice which I agreed wholeheartedly.

He and I shared that neither a borrower nor lender be. If we can afford to help a friend in need, give practical help but not money.

As a long stay patient in hospital I got to know not only my butler well but my nursing team. I listened to them share their dreams, family stories and jokes.

When I was discharged, they could not be happier. It meant I was well again.

I am sad to return again in the future for another major surgical procedure but I am not fearful as I know I have good care from service personnel to surgical and nursing team.

Still, I pray hard not to go under the knife again. It is painful always ;-(

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