It’s been a little quiet over here on the blog front lately.
Well, that’s because we’ve had our hands full with a non-stop list of activities. Deric was on a 2 week break as he was between jobs, so we were trying our best to get as much as we could done while the entire family was together in the daytime.
What didn’t help at all was that Jamie had to fall sick amidst all that, making it even harder to seize the moment to do the things we had in mind as we had to divert part of our energy and time to getting him well again. Both of us also ended up sick too at the end of it all (albeit in a much milder fashion compared to Jamie, but nonetheless not at our best).
But well, that’s family life, I guess. A neverending stream of activities, needs, etc. Chaos, in some ways. Makes for good memories though.
Deric’s into his new job now and so Jamie and I are left to our own devices again in the daytime. The break in routine was refreshing, but now begins the task of finding a new one to match the changes in Deric’s work schedule and commute.
One significant change is the fact that he is trying out public transport to get to work. This is because his office is much further now and in the middle of the city. We are trying to avoid both the horrendous road traffic congestion as well as the petrol costs associated with driving. But this means that Jamie and I have to be up early enough to drop him off at the nearest LRT station.
I love having more hours to do stuff (since we are up earlier) but it feels tiring. And while Deric has moved on to return to the corporate life, here I am left with all the remaining mess and unfinished projects at home to work on. The only advantage that I have at the moment is I’ve caught up with work and so am free from the burden of my freelance work for now. But a new month comes soon, and then the mayhem will begin again.
I’ve noticed far too many draft posts sitting in my blog so I figured I should at least pen something to keep this thing alive. I guess the hopes of writing brilliant posts will go mostly unmet, but perhaps something hashed out is better than none. I’ll try to have more intriguing stories for you the next round.
So we’re midway through Chinese New Year (CNY) already. Or for the picky ones, Lunar New Year.
To be honest, I find that the older I get, the more I find that I don’t feel much of anything for this entire festive season at all.
Well, for starters, since our family are Christians, we don’t observe much of the rituals surrounding CNY. We just celebrate it for the fact that it’s part of our cultural background. So a lot of hustle and bustle is already cut out of the equation.
Then, there’s the current situation with my extended family where no one really gets together for Chinese New Year anymore, with the exception of the few that we usually reach out to and make an effort to meet. There’s no massive family gathering like there used to be in years past. It’s a bit sad, really, but that’s how things have been ever since the passing of my last surviving grandparent (on my Mum’s side of the family).
Even amongst my cousins, the closeness really isn’t there. Well, truth be told, even if we did meet up over the CNY period, it would feel somewhat pointless since we don’t connect at all during other times. Like it would be just something we do for the sake of keeping up appearances. Or something along those lines.
That’s for my own family. With Deric’s family, it’s even worse because we only meet his cousins. His father has passed on, and his mother isn’t even in the country.
So there is no balik kampung for us. There isn’t anything to look forward to during CNY for us actually.
It’s just that now that we’ve got Jamie around, there’s angpaus to be collected whenever we meet friends and family. But that’s about all there is to it.
Oh, and of course, we have to prepare our own set of angpaus to hand out to other children too. And to have gift packs ready to cart along for visits to homes.
Last but not least, there’s that stash of Mandarin oranges we habitually will buy and consume over the CNY season.
But that’s that. That’s our CNY.
I guess you could say it doesn’t necessarily mean if we had big family gatherings and lots of family activities over the CNY that things would be any cheerier. I do know of some people who dread meeting their relatives as they aren’t really the sort of people that they’d like to hang around with in the first place. And whenever there’s older folks around, there’s bound to be lots of unsolicited advice and nagging and awkward situations.
Oh well. We Chinese ARE a complicated bunch of folks after all. I bet every Chinese family has their own brand of domestic drama to contend with.
I’m generalising, definitely, but it’s mostly true though: We’re loud, money minded, food centric and steeped in loads of tradition.
Speaking of tradition, I’d really like to build our own set of CNY traditions to observe with our little immediate family, but I haven’t really got round to thinking what that should look and feel like. It doesn’t help that my husband isn’t the kind to get into the spirit of things during any festive season (even Christmas, I might add).
But it’d be nice to, someday, see the kids excited to usher in CNY and bustling about the home making cookies, decorating the hall, etc.
Kids, I say. We only have one son at the moment. I dream plenty. I wonder whether we’ll ever get there.
Since we’re on the topic of CNY, I might as well address my sentiments about being Chinese. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about my racial heritage (the other bit about being Malaysian is another story altogether, which probably will warrant a separate post of its own).
I like that as a Chinese, the general perception people will have of you is that you are hardworking. Also, the fact that the Chinese have a long history of success to their name and are regarded as being very resilient, able to survive and thrive anywhere that they are found all across the globe.
But that’s probably as far as my Chinese pride goes.
I’m not so happy to acknowledge that being Chinese means also being associated with being frugal , conniving and selfish. Being perceived as having an attitude of looking down on others that are of a lower socioeconomic standing than you are. Being loud and brash, inconsiderate towards the needs of other races in the community.
I guess the only saving grace I have going for me is that I am not from China (or not anymore, anyway, since my ancestors had migrated years ago) and was born and raised a Malaysian.
What does it mean that I am a Malaysian though? That’s something worth pondering. I will need to think more about this and come back at a later date to write a decent discussion about this.
Does the world think anything good of Malaysians anyway? Do they remember anything about us and our nation other than the curious incidences of disappearing planes and the fascinating array of food we have to offer our guests?
Oh, this post is such a disjointed collage of my thoughts. I should take my leave now.
I’m sitting here at the computer, sort of reluctant to move. It’s 4am and the feeling is familiar.
For some silly reason, I sifted through old emails and Google chats in my primary account, and it reminded me that me sitting to blog at a strange hour in the night isn’t new.
Long before all the madness of motherhood, before the intricacies of marriage, back in the days when I was single and just another uni student, I was already doing this. It’s the feeling of wanting to talk to someone about something, but not having a soul awake to listen.
There is a restlessness that permeates through the night and I often drown in it. I do not know why it gets to me, but it does. I am not depressed or suicidal or any other negative thing. I just am a mixture of melancholy, uncertainty and sleeplessness.
Tomorrow will be another day. And with the sunrise, the secret insecurities that haunt me in the night will vanish, even if just for awhile.
I’m up early to finish some dastardly work, but before I get to it… Just have to share with you about our lovely fishball noodle soup last night. 🙂
Jamie seems to love noodles so we thought we’d give it a try so he could eat the same dinner that we were having.
This was also our first time trying our hands at making our own fishballs. I figured it’d be healthier for everyone (Jamie included), plus we could have the peace of mind knowing what was in it.
Only bummer was me being paranoid and deciding to Google about mackerel and mercury content during dinner time and then finding out that it DOES have a rather high reading 😦 What a mood spoiler. But well, I guess since we don’t always eat fish, hopefully it’s still okay for Jamie since it’s just once in awhile…
Deric did all the cooking this time because I’m still running a marathon to finish my work. But it really looked simple enough, the steps and all, so hopefully the next round, I’ll get to be involved in the cooking too.
You can check out the recipe at Rasa Malaysia. It only gives instructions for how to make the soup and fishballs, but you can always chuck in any favourite noodles and miscellaneous ingredients and convert it into fishball noodle soup 🙂
For our rendition of this dish, we added Chinese cabbage, oyster mushrooms, and chicken breasts (cut into small chunks). And for the noodles part, we did a mix of meehoon (rice vermicelli) and spinach mee (which is cool because it adds a greenish accent to the dish and more healthy too, at the same time).
We skipped the garlic oil and seaweed this time round, but I would love to have it thrown in next time too, me thinks.
Oh and we made the fish paste using our food processor rather than through chopping it with a knife.
Meanwhile, for the soup, we made it extra delicious by first creating a homemade fish stock as the base. We added other fish bones that we had left over from another meal, and followed the steps from a soup cookbook that I have. (It basically contained onions, celery, a bay leaf, and a few other simple condiments.)
We let our fish stock cook in the slow cooker all day. First, on High till the liquid was boiling, then Low for the rest of the afternoon till it was needed for cooking in the evening.
It sure beats any commercial stock out there. And it made the soup extra yummy 😀
Feel kind of psyched to attempt beef balls next, either for a noodle soup thing OR to go with pasta/spaghetti. Hehe.
Perhaps by some time in the future, we’ll no longer buy these dishes from outside restaurants and coffee shops no longer and save ourselves more money. (It’s an ambitious thought, but hey, maybe it’s possible someday ya?)
It’s raining! How lovely. I cannot say enough times just how much I love rain. I’ve probably already mentioned this countless times in other posts, but I can never emphasise it enough.
What is it about the rain that I love so much? The sound of water. Pitter patter raindrops on the window. How the atmosphere becomes cooler. How everything turns indoors and inward: More reflective thoughts, less going out, more lounging about with loved ones. That sort of thing.
The other thing that I’m really happy about is that the week is coming to an end. I also really love weekends. That’s because it’s the time when our entire family is together 24/7.
Not that our family is very big (it’s just the three of us) nor are we living apart or anything like that, but things are always better when Deric is around too. I don’t have to feel so alone managing our son, and everything just seems happier and more fun in general (because Deric is the chirpy one in the family).
These few weeks have been especially tiring. I know I must be saying that a lot, but it is all the more so lately.
The outstanding work tasks that I have on my hands has been getting a bit overwhelming. I have been falling sick at least once a week. Jamie has been having an on-off fever thing which we find perplexing.
I am still struggling to keep this bullet journalling thing going, but the habit isn’t really sticking. Plus it feels so self defeating to make lists, especially for the To-Dos, and to only have very few items actually ever crossed off at the end of each day. But at least I am noting down the small events that take place every day. Perhaps that will be good for recall at later times when I can no longer remember what most of 2017 was all about.
Significant things that happened this week:
I wore makeup to church and a meaningful t-shirt to cheer myself up and remind myself that I once was a fascinating individual. The t-shirt being the AJ Hackett bungy jumping one that Deric and I bought when we were at Kawarau river in New Zealand on our month long backpacking trip back in 2010. YES. So long ago!
Jamie and I had two mini mid-week outings in the daytime. Certainly made me feel better. He seemed happy as well. And he settled much more easily into his evening nap.
Discovered we had bought celery of bad quality from Village Grocer and that it was from CHINA. Bah. I may be (Malaysian) Chinese, but I don’t support products from China. Wonder if it is really celery. Anyway, our version came with a free gift: A live spider. Yikes! Still cooked it and both Jamie and myself had some. But never again. Not this brand.
Experienced 2 mysteries in the kitchen and laundry area of the home: A missing fork (Jamie’s) and a missing pair of dirty pants. Found both yesterday, but not without having to hunt for a bit.
Found Jamie’s beloved Duckie sitting atop his toy wash basin. Erm? Jamie’s version of putting Duckie on the potty maybe? Whatever it was, it was funny.
Devised a temporary measure to keep Jamie’s hands out of the open waste bins that we use around the home by placing a disposable shower cap around the mouth of all those bins. Just making my life more difficult, isn’t it?
We also installed a child safety lock on our huge kitchen garbage bin and on the refrigerator doors. I broke the one on the fridge door.
Oh, and I peeled prawns. Last Sunday evening. And I was smarter this time. No deceased prawn exacted its revenge on me. (Tip: Avoid handling the head with your fingers and you can avoid getting pricked).
And with that, folks, another week is drawing to a close.
(We’re having fishball noodle soup tonight. With homemade fishballs. And since it’s raining and cold, I think it’s a splendid way to meet the weekend.)
The drudgery of day-to-day chores and freelance work commitments got to me a little in the week that was.
As a result, I didn’t quite feel like blogging as much although I did have plenty to say. I guess it’s for the fear of saying careless things that I will regret publishing later. Well, there’s always the Undo and Delete features, but having been a journo before, I tend to err on the side of caution.
Anyway, here I am.
One thought that keeps returning to me recently is this: What could a homebound woman like me have to offer you, my dear reader? Aren’t there a gazillion other more fun and intriguing places to spend your time at on the Internet? Why would you want to be here? Why do I want to take up your time to peruse my nonsense?
Perhaps I am blogging not so much for you specifically. Maybe this is for me. This is the space I need to say the things I want to say. To be the individual that I should be, even if nobody is reading.
For as long as “Writer” is a description that I’d like to attach to my name, I guess I should keep up this blogging discipline. It’s just daunting that everyone else always seems to have intelligent things to say and/or is a subject matter expert in at least one topic or more.
Me, what do I have? Just a random collection of thoughts, anecdotes and the occasional life hack to share.
Not a niche in sight.
But maybe I like it that way. Why be labelled or pigeon holed into a particular genre? I like the freedom of being able to pull out any topic to write about, at any given moment, as though I were pulling that proverbial rabbit from a hat. Maybe you like surprises. Or randomness. If you do, I hope I do not disappoint.
However, even if this blog amounts to nothing great on the scale of going viral (because what other yardstick of measurement is there on the Web nowadays, eh?), I hope it is the platform on which I build my courage. That boldness to just say things and not think so much about them.
And maybe once I have finally cleared the backlog of thoughts in my head, hopefully something more meaningful will emerge.
For now, it’s back to writing boring old business reports and editing longwinded sentences about serious stuff that nobody talks about unless it’s to do with either religion, politics or money. Or perhaps just money.
Money makes the world go round. Or just words, more or less.
Got up awhile ago. It’s 6+am over here. Am about to attempt to get some overdue work done.
Before doing so, however, I decided to do some housekeeping for one of my email accounts (yes, I still keep a few). In the process, I came across an email from klpac about an upcoming Malaysian Jazz Piano Festival.
I suddenly recalled those more carefree days in the past where such an email would have triggered me to forward it Deric (we were merely dating back then), and it would probably end up with either one of us spontaneously saying, “Let’s go!”. That was the life we used to have. One that I sometimes almost barely remember.
These days, our lives (and schedules) are so tightly wrapped around work, cooking, cleaning (and other miscellaneous house chores) and raising Jamie. In between, we sometimes manage to slot in some chatter about pop culture (movies, music and the like). But it’s a case of observing and marvelling from afar.
We’ve only been on one movie date since Jamie was born. We haven’t been on any other dates besides that. We haven’t attended a concert together since… I can’t remember when. We also haven’t had a leisurely, fancy restaurant meal in quite some time as well.
We are a little challenged financially at the moment. So we cook as much as we can. Buying things on a whim is something that happens more rarely. Or rather, we only do so when the cost involved is pretty low. Concerts like that sold out Coldplay one in Singapore are just passing clouds in our expansive blue sky. Gone are the days we would actually go for it. Because we can’t. More or less.
From the moment I wake to the moment I nod off to sleep, Jamie is by my side and needing me (especially when he wants to nurse). Some days, I take it well. On others, I feel resentful and sometimes wonder if we did the right thing having a child.
Forcing myself to be up to work at this hour used to be a rarity. But it occurs fairly often now (for as much as my body can tolerate it, and Jamie remains fast asleep, that is).
Everything’s different now. But would I change it all?