Monday, April 30, 2007

Like Riding a Bike

Some days it feels like I've ridden too long on an exercise bike; your pelvis hurts after sitting too long cycling away the calories and you walk somewhat funny the next day. Except that this is getting to be almost every day.

Technology vs. Humans

I was pleasantly surprised that, bar a few glitches, renewing your passport at the Damansara Heights kiosk (KIPPAS) was relatively stress-free and quick. I only had to stand in line for about 20 minutes before I got up to the kiosk, slotted in MyKad and my passport, paid, dumped in the envelope with my photo and pick up the receipt for collection at the immigration counter.

Of course, this being Malaysia, I had to repeat the process a couple of times before the machine deemed it safe and satisfactory for me to actually complete my application but hey, then again, it had to capture my thumbprints correctly two times in order to ensure I wasn't a candidate for terrorism or anything of the sort.

The problem came when it was time to collect the new passport in the afternoon.

When I arrived at Level 2 expecting the same efficiency evident this morning, I was of course, shocked to find out that was not to be.

There were TONS of people at Immigration. Most of them were waiting, either to hand in the application form or to collect their new passports. More were queued up in different lines at different counters.

I headed towards Counter 16 where I was supposed to pick up my queue number for collection. I had barely gone a few steps towards the counter when I realised that there was a crowd milling about the counter and several counters over like a herd of cattle. There was no line. No. queue. Just a bunch of people crowding around. And the crowd did not seem to be thinning. There was no one at the counter.

So I went to the regular counter where you hand in your regular manually produced receipt for passport collection and was duly instructed by the officer there to head to Counter 16 to collect my number. Right. This was not going well.

Back to Counter 16 I went. And still the crowd not only did not seem to be moving, in fact, there seemed to be more people now. So I made my way up to the counter next to it and enquire of the officer there and showed her my receipt. She brusquely told me to wait in line at the next counter to pick up my number. I looked back at the crowd again.


In the end, I discovered that the number displayed on the queue screen was around 8200 and the last number given out was 8400. It was slightly before 4pm. Government departments close, at latest 5pm. So go figure. I put two and two together and figured no way were they going to be able to hand out 200 passports in the next hour or so. Not with so many people still milling about having not collected their passports or just waiting for their collection numbers.

There was no sign or notice up to tell people that the no more numbers were being given out, seeing as it was already late. So people just stood around waiting for more numbers. No officer was around to tell us what the hell was happening. Officers at the counter were also too self-absorbed to dish out too much info other than to direct us to another counter.

I decided, to hell with it. I'm not going to stand around and wait only to be told to go home upon closing time. So I left.

Somebody tell me just how efficient is the kiosk supposed to make passport renewal and collection when the people behind the counter can't seem to get their act together? So much for a quick 2-hour renewal.

But then again, what would I have expected? This IS Malaysia after all. In a country where the telecommunications infrastructure is a monopoly and TMNet is the sole provider of internet connections, which explains why, after 16 days, the blurdy idiots at TMNet have 'escalated' my case to 'the highest level' but can't get their technical team to tell me or even have the courtesy to call me to update me what's the status of my non-functioning connection.

This is what I pay my taxes for: to have to contend with inefficiencies all around me.

Malaysia Boleh!!!

Hardened Skin

Sorting out and resolving issues is somewhat like getting rid of cracked heels and the hardened skin on the soles of your feet.

You have to keep at them day to day. File or sand away bit by bit; take off that hardened skin that took such a long time to build up and is so thick due to neglect. And then you have to moisturize after you've sanded. To keep the skin soft, you need to then make sure you afford those heels the TLC that they need, if not, the skin is going to build up yet again.

So it goes too for issues one needs to resolve. A lot of times, it's not a one-off short term solution where things get taken care of in a day. Often it's like tending your heels till they become soft and smooth once again.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Baby Explosion (II)

Like I said, there has been a spate of babies born recently. I checked with a prenatal yoga instructor just today about taking classes and she told me that classes have been cancelled. The batch of ladies who were taking classes with her have all just gone to give birth. Argh! All at once? Talk about synchronising our moon cycles!

Unless she can get a minimum of two students to form a class, it looks like I'm out for this too. any case, she will keep me posted.

Oh, and Natasha, the yoga instructor? She's preggers too!

Cats on the Mind

These adorable kitties are a permanent fixture in this specialist saltwater fish shop not far from my office. I walk past this shop whenever I need to head over to my favourite Japanese restaurant, Rakuzen, for lunch.

They always seem so contented, these three creamies and two calicos; always soaking in some sun and lazing about next to, on or over each other.

When the owners are not out for lunch, I usually stop by on my way back to the office to give them (the cats, not the owners) a friendly pat or two. Such sweeties.

Baby explosion

There has been a spate of babies born lately. An ex-colleague had a C-section about two months ago, hubby's friend across the street gave birth on the 19th and another friend's wife is due anytime now, and most recently a friend of mine popped out a baby girl this morning.

Oh, and another mutual friend all the way in the US is expecting about the same time as I am.

I am surrounded by exploding mamas. Talk about a bumper year for babies.

Today is not a smooth day. Some issues at work that I've not been able to resolve and am yet to wrap up. But I just don't feel like I have the energy. Am bloated as a dead corpse on the side of the road (think roadkill) and I feel like I've been on the exercise bike for too long; my pelvic bones are killing me when I walk: I look like I've got something major stuck up my ass.

I spent the better part of the late morning sending out text messages to people telling them I've changed my Celcom line to Maxis. I will miss my Celcom number but we have to be pragmatic here: 90% of the people I contact use Maxis and where cost savings can be achieved, we must move towards the healthier bottomline, favourite number be damned. Oh well...a minor change in a year full of bigger changes.

It's also a quiet day as banks, government offices and most MNCs are off for the Agong's installation. My sales team is probably having teh tarik somewhere after their meagre two appointments for the day. The tech specialist is still testing out that unit I need sent out to the client tomorrow. And I am ... sleeeeeeeepyyyyy...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More lists

I asked a good friend (who had her kids about 7 years back) what I should have in preparation for the baby. Here's her list, uncensored:

For the baby:

1) Bed and beddings
2) Bathing items - tub shampoo, slip mat, baby oil and ru-yi oil (the type that comes in bottle inside a cylinder tin box) to rub on baby's tummy.
3) Feeding bottles, sterilizer and washing brush/detergent.
4) Clothes and pins. The right detergent for babies.
5) Cloth diapers and disposables.
6) Towels, lots of hankies.

For myself:

1) Sarongs coz you'll be going to the loo quite a bit and it's easier to take off and put on than pants. Wouldn't want to be lifting your legs so much with all those wounds.
2) Maternity pads. Lots of it.
3) Are you washing your hair? I got dry shampoo coz MIL only let me wash once a week. So I dry shampoo in between.
4) Blouses that button in front. Easy for breast feeding.
5) A small mirror if you dare to check your episiotomy. I used it to apply the flavin on the stitches after each time I pee. Not a pretty sight.
6) A sarong to line the bed if you want to look at your stitches and apply the flavin.

Everything on the baby list looks pretty manageable, except I'm not sure what the ru-yi oil is. And I'm not sure where to get cloth diapers. It's a detail that my mom would probably know the answer to. I think I'll just boil everything as a method of sterilization.

On my list, items 2 and 5 are starting to freak me out (I have been studying this list the past two days). Maternity pads? Did she mean sanitary pads? LOTS of it? Good gawd, what am I gonna be gushing? The entire contents of my reproduction system?

And item 5? Sounds entirely like a gruesome scene from 300 or one of those gory medieval battle scenes in movies. Am I going to even risk peeing? I was thinking of risking swabbing in the general area if I need to and preferably not look at the massacre that will be my nether regions after I'm done with the giving birth bit.

Here's how she ended her email to me:

I hope I'm not scaring you! It's not that bad-lah. The doctors stitch really well these days so it heals really nicely, and the stitch will just melt away as the wound heals. Not even a scar. I don't know where my episiotmies were now. So there's no ugly zig-zag tears and rough stitches/scars like our mother's time.

Make sure you have two bags ready to bring to the hospital. One for you and baby. Should get it ready now and just leave it on standby coz you never know when the contractions come. Then when it's time, you can just grab the bags and go.

Oh, BTW, when you do feel your contractions, there is enough time to take a bath and shower, and wash your hair. It's not like what you see in the movies. The contractions starts really mild and takes a few hours before you dilate to 7 cm. So relax and don't panic.

If your water bursts just put on a pad, get someone to help wipe up the mess while you take a shower then go see the doctor.

Maybe I really should just consider C-section as a viable option...

Pregnant or fat?

An aqcuaintance I hadn't met in over a year thought I was fat rather than pregnant. It all started when we sat down for teh tarik and he advised me not to drink so much calorie-infused teh tarik because I had a belly to show for it.

I didn't know whether to be insulted or amused; I stuck with the latter. That's when I dropped the bomb and told him I was already going along 6 months.

He looked genuinely surprised. He's married with three teenaged kids (I thought married people can spot pregnancies from a mile away?), therefore, he has a load of wisdom and experience to dish out so of course he felt it was his duty to enlighten me.

Here's part of his list:

1. If we're still having sex, hubby better be wearing a condom coz we don't want to take any chances of me catching an infection. "You never know where guys have put their hands before and after they go to the loo. We're generally more resilient because we're not the ones who are moist all the time, and bacteria breeds in moist places, especially now your acidity and immunity are lower."

2. I need to stop drinking iced drinks, Chinese tea, leong char, and all this teh tarik crap. "Do you know what they put in the tea? It's loaded with colouring!" Instead I should drink more water and fruit juices.

3. Eat more fish.

4. "When you hear people arguing, walk away. It's not good for the baby. She can hear already."

5. "No watching scary or ghost stories on TV or at the cinema. It could affect the baby."

6. Keep happy.

Thanks for your concern, James. Will eat as much fish as I can for the next three months till Sophia pops out.

Who will she look like?

As my belly gets bigger and the impending date looms closer, I can't help but wonder what kind of baby Sophia will turn out to be. More immediately, what she will look like and who she will resemble in character.

I hope she:

1. Looks like her father, has his eyes, features and abundant hair (as her crowning glory, preferably, everywhere else can take after the Chinese blood and be less hairy).

2. Inherits her father's intelligence and patience.

3. Has my resilience and a generally high threshold for pain.

4. Is healthy, of course.

5. Learns to love our cats and animals in general, like her parents.

6. Has a dose of stubborness from me, but just a little.

7. Is a happy little bundle of joy.

Toll of the Taxman

It's a good thing my bank account is of healthy status at the moment. After completing my tax files, I still have to pay close to RM4k back to the government despite requesting my employer to raise my monthly tax contributions on my behalf.

It's a vicious cycle, made worse by the fact that you know they don't deserve the taxes we are dishing out by the blatant corruption running rampant now. Why do we continue to bleed ourselves dry when the powers-that-be are already draining the country dry?

What to do? We are born here, live here and work here. I've already set the seed for my own participation in this plan. Hopefully, I'll be able to make a smidgeon of a difference with the coming GE.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Here's a thought:

I'm thinking of subjecting some poor mortal to the torture of giving me a foot massage; me and my two footsies complete with cracked heels, scaly hard soles, sandpaperish skin and mis-shapen toe nails.

Brrrr...I pity the poor soul.

Note: a friend once confessed to me I've got one of the most horrendous set of toenails he'd ever seen: they're short, stubby and fat plus some of them have turned black from the number of times I've stubbed them on furniture legs.

Clumsiest Oaf I Know Who's a Cat

In the mornings as we lounge around in bed, the boy, as is his custom tramples all around in bed trying to get our attention. From the foot of the bed where he sleeps, he will trot or plod up to where we're lying on our pillows and plonk his fat ass down and stare at us. After we give him the customary pat or nuuzzle on the head, he will head back to the foot of the bed and wait for either of us to really get out of bed and feed him his breakfast.

The boy is so fat that sometimes manouvreing his way across limbs and bolsters and pillows gets the better of him. There's just too much of him to get across all the obstacles unscathed with his dignity intact.

Yesterday was once such time.

He ended up clumsily stumbling like a drunken sailor, stepping first over my arm and then onto Rizal's leg trying to get back from our pillow to the foot of the bed. From our vantage point, he looked like he about sprawled splay-legged across our bodies, with hind legs akimbo and fat belly dangling about, almost falling flat on his face before he reached his destination and plunked down on his belly.

I swear it was the funniest, most ridiculous thing I've ever seen a cat do. But I wouldn't mind seeing more of those it it means I get to laugh my heart out.


Suprisingly, today is turning out to be quite a good day. Nothing in particular, just that it started off pretty OK and I'm determined to have a good day today, defunct home internet connection, crappy credit card customer service, lousy astro connection be damned.

Small things, considering the big picture of my life.

At least I remembered a friend's birthday even though I had to call him up again right after I hung up because I forgot to wish him a good one today. So here are some of the things I'm grateful for today:

1. At over 6 months, my belly is still somewhat small and not too difficult to manouvre around. AND I haven't toppled over. YET.

2. I get to go in to the office late and leave early.

3. My parents still pretty much ensure I take my required dose of fresh fruits: every Saturday they stock me up on bananas, pears, apples, grapes and/or oranges. Somteimes I get mangoes.

4. My bank account is finally at a healthy level.

5. One of my cats thinks he's a dog and is so adorable that he makes me smile everyday.

6. So far no major complications with the pregnancy.

7. I'm not as useless as I thought when it comes to IT matters; managed to get connected onto a secured WI-FI network all on my own. Took me all of 20 - 30 minutes but I managed to do it. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it and spend a little time on it.

8. I'm in want of nothing that I don't have right now.

And another one...

Here's another one that almost got me rolling on the floor:

"Don't walk too fast or you'll topple over."

Somehow the mental image that popped into mind seemed entirely too incongruous.

Especially coming from someone who tried to climb into the backseat of a four-door Honda via the front door; she thought it was a two-door sportster. Those were the good old college days. Now she's got two kids and is giving me baby advice.

Time sure flies.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


So here I am on a Sunday afternoon, resorting to WI-FI connectivity at Holly's Coffee at Cineleisure because TMNet can't fix whatever problem it is that's been bugging their server and my internet connection at home for the past 8 days.

RHB has sent me yet another late payment reminder for my credit card without first sending me a statement. Their customer service rep in charge of my account is never around when I call and never returns the call either. After 5 days of continuous calls to their card centre, I FINALLY get someone to attend to me and they fax over my statement. It is ridiculous. Customer service is tantamount. I will be cancelling my card once I've made my payment and redeemed my points.

I've gone through two DVDS in two days: Stranger Than Fiction & Freedom Writers, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. Due to the horrendously hopeless Astro reception when it rains, it is just no point turning on the damn decoder only to be met with stuttering, sputtering blocks of black and colour on the TV screen. Lucky for the rain, if not, I'd never get around to watching the DVDs.

I can't watch TV or DVD today because Rizal is gaming with the guys; they've taken over the living room as is gaming tradition, and somehow lounging around on the bed is just going to add to my being lethargic and this feeling of oppressiveness I have today.

What can I say? It's a Sunday. Tomorrow's the first working day of the week. I'm spending Sunday walking the malls alone and connecting online outside the comfort of my home. My belly feels as tight as the stretched skin of a taut drum. I'm contemplating a foot massage or a head and shoulder massage to relieve the tension and fatigue. It's been a while since I've pampered myself and at the very least, it should help me feel more relaxed.

Little Sophia

Here's what a dear friend wrote when I mentioned I'll be writing my Sophia a few lines:

Little Sophee
Floaty floaty
In her tummy
Like a bubble
In her bubble
Waiting to pop

Can you guess why I call her my dear friend?

If it weren't for the armrests on the chair, I'd be rolling and laughing uncontrollably on the floor, tears streaming down my face.

Friday, April 20, 2007


There are times in your life when you arrive at a crossroads or turning point. When you do, the decision to move in the right direction or the direction that feels best to you can present you with a dilemma. Making that decision is hardly tough beans. It’s the process of arriving at the decision: finding out all you can, weighing all possibilities and taking into consideration everything that you know that causes those sleepless nights.

My crossroads presented itself to me a few weeks ago. It was a bit of a surprise because the road had been more or less straight so far. There were signs along the way that there would be a turning point somewhere ahead but the sheer depth and breadth of that turning point took me completely by surprise. We’re talking about tornados-happening-in-Malaysia kind of surprise.

Nevertheless, I was there, at the crossroads, with the traffic whizzing past in all directions and I’m rooted to the spot not only by indecision and uncertainty but by a whole host of other emotions. If you’ve ever been to Tokyo and stood at one of those massively crowded crossings, say at Shibuya, where once the light turns green, pedestrians from every corner of that crossroads start to move as a wave and converge and cross each other from every which direction, you’d know what it feels like to stand there and not know which direction to head. The noise is deafening, the roar and energy of people trying to get to their destination; the sheer force of directional pulls can be overwhelming. You’d better know which direction you’re headed because if you don’t, you’ll not only get lost but you’ll get swept up by whichever current is the strongest and you’ll find yourself planted on one end of the street when all the while you wanted to go the opposite end.

You could stand there and take your time to decide till the cows come home. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to make a decision. And the longer you stand there, the more the external factors around you will act as further impetus for your movement. Not only will you have to contend with making the decision based on your own internal compass, everything around you serves to influence your decision. And the longer you wait to decide, the louder that noise becomes.

So I decided. On gut feeling. The heart is too emotional and the mind is too rational. My gut feeling is usually a clear balance between the two. I don’t know how I know, I just do, and that’s the beauty of relying on gut feeling. You just KNOW. And so I plunged in.

Was it a good decision? I don’t know. Was it the right decision? I don’t know either, only time will tell. I don’t believe in right and wrong decisions in matters of life. But it felt like the best decision to make at the time and it was a decision I felt I could live with. It’s a decision I feel I can live with and in time find enough satisfaction in. Like I said, only time will tell. And I can’t be too worried about what will happen in the future either, I can only do so much for now in order to prepare for a better future.

I believe in moving forward in life. Whatever may have happened in the past that could have shaped our way forward is immaterial. The point is, we are already here, and not to move forward would be taking a step back or coming to a standstill; you can only keep doing the two for so long before you let the past take you over or let the present close your eyes to what the future can offer.

I do believe that things always work themselves out. Sometimes it may not seem that way or we may not be able to see it, or it may just take longer to show around the corner. But whatever the outcome, it is what you make of it and what you take away from it that matters.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Life is full of irony. It’s a matter of when it decides to hit you with the full force of its irony that you finally realize what a farce the whole idea of your life really is.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Week 26

The placenta is still low but doc is giving it time to "move up". By Week 34 or 36, we should know if I need a C-section.

The little tyke is doing fine. A tad on the tiny side (according to more "experienced" observers) but nevertheless, a clean bill of health was given by doc.

I'm feeling generally tired still, lack of continuous sleep being the main cause. Getting hunger pangs at inopportune times in the a.m. and the urge to pee about an hour or two before my alarm goes off is wreaking some sort of havoc on my sleep cycle.

She likes to move. She seems to either like to elbow, punch or kick me, depending on which side she's lying on or which direction she's actually in. I really can't tell. But she does have an affinity for movement on the left side of my bump. She loves to start up a fuss after I complete a meal, when I lie quietly in bed (doesn't matter which side I'm on: my left, right or on my back, she just goes at it), when I'm trying to stay still and keep still. She stops for longer periods when Rizal puts his palm on her. Still in the womb but already a daddy's girl? This is going to be one difficult child to raise; I can imagine wars fought and lost based on her running crying to daddy's side.

Bending down is becoming increasingly uncomfortable and difficult. I've resorted to squatting to get what I need. Walking for long stretches leaves me somewhat out of breath and my brain cells continue to be addled: I am sleepy a lot still. My hair and nails seem to be growing at fever pitch; I used to have to cut my nails at most, once a fortnight. Now I need to trim my nails once a week to ensure they are not mistaken for claws.

I've been told it generally gets worse. Another three months to go and I can't wait.

Friday, April 13, 2007

For lack of better words

Stories from the deepest
Part of my heart
Delving under cause to wonder
Why am I falling apart

Scattered all around
This topsy turvy room
Will I find the one
Who takes me there too soon

- Erasure: Man in the Moon

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The drug that is truth

When you stumble upon a crisis, or more likely, when a crisis comes crashing clumsily into your life after you've been blind to the way it's been building up to this very moment of your life, you discover certain truths about yourself, the people involved and the cisrcumstances that conspired to lead cataclismically to it.

And the truth is usually painful.

Like a drug however, once you've had a taste, you are inevitably hooked. You are compelled to shoot up time and again, no matter how incredibly low you can sink after the high of gaining the why, the how, the what and the who.

Knowledge is a path to meaning, pain is sometimes its side effect. In the end, all you want to be able to do is grasp at understanding. And in understanding, you hope you will learn, find peace and gather the strength to move on.

And so it goes...

And the river flows
I am never gonna take it back again
And the river flows
I am never gonna get it back again
- Erasure: Take Me Back

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Seven (III) : Facility

Our trek through Gaia's labyrinth with covered eyes,
seven to lighten, afford succour, serve as allies.

Clair de Lune segues into Metallica then Holliday,
butterfly scales, raucous warbles happiness convey.

Cuban son, salsa, merengue and bachata beats,
lithe, sensual bodies, shimmying shoulders and twirling feet.

Letters appear on a page, on a screen or in thought,
revealing depths, forming pictures in a melting pot.

Shared conversation, mugs of steaming coffee,
board games and like company, friends jubilee.

Quiet respite on humid afternoons, cool night charms,
resting secure, wrapped in loved one's arms.

Tumbles of fur bounding up, scaling down,
puffs of orange mews and a tabby-striped clown.

A protruding bump, a part of me yet not quite,
I pat, she kicks in reply and a flame in me ignites.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Seven (II) : Endeavour

Along the path often winding though true,
seven to endeavour, find and pursue.

Affection for one near though silently distanced,
amends abound, deeds through persistence.

Sleight of hand, grey fades into black,
to see, hear and know before the act.

One's weakness prey to another's strength,
to withhold Themis at far arms' length.

Jagged words abet wounded esteem,
bite the tongue, halt needless screams.

From dusk till dawn flow constant murmurs,
listen well, heart in truth surely hears.

Imperfect beings striving for perfection,
an ear, a hand to accede to completion.

For wisdom, truth and infinite abundance,
to lie beholden to a higher presence.

Seven (I) : Apogee

Seven to hold, to forge as I go,
before the end to attain deepest heart's goal.

To return to whom whence my seed began,
unsaid love before many rivers ran.

Amidst the throng, the hot and reverent sand,
to offer in awe and thankfulness in the promised land.

A true straight leading into blinding curve,
words to be shared, stories to be heard.

To bite the tongue and still the heart,
forgive and to love self and others who cut.

A journey neverending through Pan's labyrinth,
with one who shares love, lends silent strength.

Step lightly but surely in a sage's words,
to be the change, to remember the worth.

As fading sun sets, falling light casts umbrage,

the soul to rest in joy and stillness in age.

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