Posts Tagged ‘marylin’

The countdown

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

DSC04126It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for five months and even harder to believe I’m about to leave on Friday.  Thankfully, there’s lots to do so I don’t have much time to mull over it all.  On the one hand I’ve missed Panda for nearly 150 days and I can’t wait to see him, touch him again.  It’s been too long of pretending I could touch him and feel him hug me through the webcam.  On the other hand, the people here are amazing and have taken great care of me.  Plus, I’m just getting around to exploring Singapore!  It’s a pity it’s ending already, but I can’t help but look forward to who and what I have waiting for me back home.

As I’m down to my last three full days, I’m trying to squeeze everything in – a trip to Sentosa and a visit to the Flyer, one final event for C&S, and a last day in the office ending with a discussion with Starfish and a little dinner party.  I probably won’t get more than a nap Thursday night as I finish up packing and nervously await my early departure time.  I’ve still got to find time to go to the Night Safari (probably Wednesday after the event), since the rain today deterred me from going.  I was absolutely exhausted and zonked out on the bus ride home anyway, so it’s better I didn’t go.  Then there’s my final foot and back massage that I need to use up from my membership card.  Maybe I’ll squeeze that in before the Night Safari.

Most importantly, I’ve got to tie up loose ends and say bye to the parents who have generously taken me in these past few months.  I don’t really have time to take them out to dinner to show my appreciation, but what can I do?  I hope I get inspired when I’m out tomorrow.  I was pleased with the little gifts that I found for the people from the office – cuff links for Zen, Mizu, and Typea, and compact mirrors for Marylin and Starfish (plus a Love Spell spray for her, which is like a classic VS scent for the lady who loves that brand), who all have played a huge part in supporting me here.  For the others who have been there for me and made the atmosphere enjoyable, I had adorable little elephant keychains.  I had a lot of fun choosing the gifts, even if I was dead tired and my back was dying when I came across these treasures.

DSC07100Each one has its significance to me (and may not be the most practical, but I was going for more meaningful…): for Zen, a pair of silver dragons because that just seems fitting for an influential man; for Mizu, a pair of gold electric guitars because he truly is a rock star (in so many ways); for Typea, a pair of blue and sea green golf clubs in their bags (or whatever it’s called) for his enjoyment of the game and the lifestyle it represents; for Marylin, a pink cover with a pretty peacock for her growing involvement in the beauty industry; and for Starfish, a cool blue cover with an elegant flower for her cool head and classiness as well as the spray I mentioned above because she loves VS.  As for the elephants, I figured that Mac would want the purple one (actually why I bought that particular pack, though I liked it because I like purple too) and Lorry would appreciate the green one (a bit of an inside joke on that one, for all his Greenness).  Skim was the only wild card, who could go for the pretty light blue one or the more royal blue one, or maybe even the bright white one.

Now I’m hoping I’ll just as much meaning in some items that I can present to Typea and Marylin’s parents prior to my departure.  Both sets of parents were very generous in taking me in and really made it possible for me to stay here; I certainly couldn’t have afforded an apartment!  Other than that and the final activities I will be participating in, I just need to pack and make sure that I don’t go over my weight limit.  The moment I find I’m under, I’m going out to buy Mamee to stuff the rest of my bags with.  I love those snacks and as of yet I have not found them in the states.  And with that, I’ll be gone before I know it.  Gosh, it’s creeping up already.

Habits die hard

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Habits are these persistent still suckers that get ingrained in your very subconscious, affecting how you behave often in ways that you can’t help.  Since you’re so used to doing things that way, it takes a lot of conscious effort to change how you do it.  Even a lot of effort may not always be effective, though with time they can slowly take effect.  I’ve been having trouble with this for awhile now, with a very silly behavior.  You see, I’m a fidgety person – I like to move around.  Well, one of my fidgets is clapping the palm of one hand on the loose fist of the other hand.  Can you imagine what that looks like?  Turns out it’s considered an insult in Singaporean culture.  -___-  Hence, I will not take a picture to show you what it’s like.  I’ll leave that to your imagination.

I think this is a pretty safe universal sign.  photo credit:

I think this is a pretty safe universal sign. photo credit:

It seems that I like to do it for the very reason it is considered rude – there’s a nice echo and a sort of popping noise you can make by slapping your hands together like that.  I also snap my fingers and crack my knuckles because of this desire to make small movements and create a little bit of sound.  It breaks both the monotony of staying still and being quiet at the same time (which usually make me feel antsy).  Unfortunately for me, I was caught doing this by a very shocked Starfish, who immediately gasped at my gesture and frantically asked me what I was doing.  It was also brought up once when I was out with Mizu and some friends.  Throughout the rest of that night, I found myself catching myself right after doing it, then hiding my hands or trying to keep them from moving around so much.  But time and time again, my hands would find their way from under my legs or untangle themselves from an interlocked clasp to do that action again!  It really is difficult to adjust behavior.

This reminds me of my first few weeks in Singapore, when Mizu was overcoming a tendency to overuse “actually” with the help of Starfish and Marylin.  Whenever we caught him using it when it wasn’t necessary, someone would be there to clear their throat and ask, “Actually?”  Whether he was speaking to us, on the phone, or presenting, Starfish and Marylin kept a close ear on what he was saying.  With that sort of persistent watch kept over him, Mizu quickly learned to stop using it and it’s been a long time since he’s used that sentence more than once in a sentence.  (Because, actually, when do you actually need to actually use it so many times in a sentence, actually?)  😛

photo credit:

photo credit:

The good thing about behavior is that you don’t need to spend too much time thinking about doing it because it’s rather automatic.  However, for that same reason, it can come kick you in the butt because you may automatically do something that you don’t want to or shouldn’t.  It’s a trade-off between having more brain resources that can be directed to other thoughts and doing things that you may regret and will have trouble not doing.  According to popular knowledge and based on research, it takes 21 days to break a habit.  I think I’m nearing that mark…  Ultimately, it really is important to develop good habits at a young age, so you don’t have to work so hard to try to adjust your behavior when you’re older.

Take right now, for example.  I’ve made a lot of typos because I’m training myself to type with my left thumb and keep my right thumb off the spacebar.  Since I’m not used to that sort of coordination, I make the strangest typos without even realizing at times, because my brain sent the right signal, but my fingers didn’t execute properly.  Similarly, everyone has certain typos that they tend to make frequently (and often this doesn’t get corrected because of autocorrect) because of how they learned to type.  I know I always stumble on certain words and almost never get them right on the first try.  I remember I noticed that Katana used to do that a lot with “the,” which always came out as “teh.”  Such things are natural when you start typing quickly, but it’s still interesting to compare what I mess up on versus someone else.  Old dogs are slow to learn new tricks, aren’t they?

A bit of a loner

laelene Posted in general blog, relationships,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Growing up an only child, constantly on the move, and often home alone, I’d say I can be a hermit of sorts.  At home I’m used to holing up in my room, for the first half of my life reading books and for the second half spending time on the internet.  I’ll spend the entire day there, taking breaks only to go to the bathroom or go grab some more food from the pantry.  It’s a lifestyle that I think a lot of people don’t understand, either because there are too many people in their households or their parents didn’t offer them as much space and independence.  But for me, what is normal is to do my own thing.

My mom will call me for dinner when it’s ready and I’ll make my way downstairs when I’m ready, usually after my parents have finished eating their meal.  We’re not ones for small talk, so they’ll continue on with their lives, my dad sometimes flipping on the news and my mom burying herself back in her study material (she’s always teaching herself something new or playing with AutoCAD).  We have a very nontraditional family unit and I think outsiders would often see our relationship as cold and distanced.  I don’t know how to convince them otherwise (nor do I want or need to), but that’s just the way it is.

white hp laptop

Just me and my computer.

I get all the support I need both emotionally and financially.  When I need help or advice on something, I can go ask and though we’ll often disagree, there’s much to be learned from that.  As for money, I hardly spent any as a child, never really asking for toys or new clothes.  All I wanted was to be driven to the library on a weekly basis so I could drag a new stack of books home.  At one point, I wanted video games, but they refused and I didn’t pursue it very frequently so eventually the desire faded.  In my senior year of high school, I started to drive and since then my habits have changed quite drastically, where I am much more in charge of where I go, what I do, and what I buy.  I still try not to spend much, but I do splurge here and there and my parents are always there to help me pad my bank account if I need it.

Panda and I have talked about the type of family we would want and I think it will be much more cohesive.  I image going to the park on a weekend or wandering around some new part of LA.  It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with my family; it’s just that when everyone is busy with their own things, hanging out for no good reason seems a waste of time.  So yeah, I’d like to have a lot of time to do things together, but I hope that when it comes time for the kids to leave home and go to college, they won’t feel tied down.  I don’t want them to feel like they need to come back on weekends all the time.  I chose to go to a college near home not because of the proximity but because of the university itself.  I want that to be the case for my children too.  There comes a time when you need to leave the nest and start making a life for yourself and college is definitely a major transitional period where that starts to happen.

buffalo walks along side of road alone

A bit of a loner.

Lately I’ve found that my immense independence and solitude is not “normal” and I think it can be seen as being aloof.  To me, it’s leaving people alone and being left alone to do what we need to do.  Unless there’s actually something to talk about, trying to find things to discuss feels like a waste of time to me.  So I thought I was doing everyone a favor by staying out of the way.  Well, when I was told that that’s not what they wanted, I started to greet in a less timid manner, began coming up with follow-up comments or questions, and would occasionally make my way to the living room and watch some TV together (even though I have no interest in TV).  All the while, I wracked my brain for things to talk about.

At the same time, I was terrified.  I don’t know how to approach people who I perceive to be in a position of authority (teachers, bosses, parents) and even when they are extremely open and inviting, I proceed with caution.  I think much of this fear held me back and created a lot of self-doubt in what I was doing and what I could do.  I knew I needed to somehow be more talkative and interactive, but I couldn’t think of interesting topics.  Perhaps it was because I felt that everything had to be so meaningful and profound.  It seems that small talk isn’t like that though – so much of it is really just mundane stuff, isn’t it?  And everything is quite repetitive – what you ate, what you did, how the weather is – and really doesn’t change all that much.

I also stopped myself from trying to talk much when the TV was on or trying to enter a room if the door was closed.  Those are signals of “leave me be” in my world, so I respected that.  Yet, other than that time, there were not really other windows of opportunity.  It’s either nobody’s there, they’re in the room, or they’re watching TV.  Well, it seems that there has been discontent because of the lack of interaction, so I decided to give it a shot.  I sat there and tried to make conversation for 45 minutes, with many pauses and much of the time spent looking at the tennis match on TV.  A couple times, it was suggested that I go rest or that I must have other things to do, so I should go in the room and go on with it.  I didn’t know if those were just polite refusals as a gesture that it’s ok if I don’t stay or if they were a subtle dismissal and an attempt to get me to retreat to the room.

guy puts face into handSigh, everything is so complicated when it comes to relationships.  I’ve got no experience in this realm and it is kicking me in the butt.  Even when I ask what is going on and what thoughts and feelings there are, I get no answer.  It’s such an Asian thing to do and perhaps I am too Western in my behavior.  To me, it’s about sharing feelings and talking it through.  But I guess it’s not so easy.  There’s so much that is taboo in the Chinese culture.  I wonder if this is the case,where even asking will not help yield an answer.  It sure seems so because so far it hasn’t.  I know I have a lot to fix but I don’t know what exactly and, more importantly, I don’t know how.  I feel utterly powerless and useless.  Boy do I have a headache.

Lost in a sea

laelene Posted in general blog, relationships,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

You know when you stick your head in the clouds and get lost there?  Then reality hits hard and you don’t know what to do.  Well, it’s not so dramatic for me, but today was very insightful and may lead to some drastic changes in how I thought things would be.  Ever since I decided to come to Singapore, with so much hope and optimism, I have set my mind on one goal: starting an enterprise with Marylin in LA.  In coming here to immerse myself, I was going to learn what I could and take that back with me to help me build something that would eventually bring her over as well.  Even though I knew it wouldn’t be that easy, we had high expectations and lofty goals.  And there we were, floating, with me taking a wonderful ride on Marylin’s typical train of daydreamy thoughts.  For awhile, we dreamt together, of what we could make of ourselves over there.

Feeling a little lost?

Feeling a little lost?

Then, with months of the real thing, we’ve found that it’s not so easy to work together, live together.  At one point we even joked about how it would be like we’re dating.  And truly, I feel that it would benefit us to treat it as such.  At least if I communicated with her the way that I communicate with Panda, things wouldn’t have gotten to this point.  Alas, when there’s no romantic affection it’s just not the same.  Part of it is that we were still in the honeymoon part of our friendship, where everything was flowery and beautiful.  Now that we’ve spent so much time in close quarters, it’s getting to the point where things have lost their glow and we must face up to the challenges that are bound to occur in any relationship.  But of course, me being the type of person I am, everything just gets bottled up and though I’ve mentioned it here and there, it’s never really been addressed.

And so, I slowly started to notice the rift that was growing between us.  There was not so much hostility as rigid civility.  Not being much of a talker in the morning when we’re going to or arriving at work, I didn’t really mind.  I’m not a morning person at all, so all the exertion in the morning would be bound to wear me out.  It was only more recently that I started to notice we didn’t have much to say to each other at all, ever.  Part of that was due to the sudden divergence in projects that we were working on, but much of it really came down to that divide that had developed.  Additionally, we’d go our separate ways at night, only seeing each other again many hours later, as we were winding down for the day and getting ready to crash for the night.

When I concentrate on something, I really like to give it my all, because it’s not often that I can get into the right groove at the right time.  I get distracted easily, from the music that is played to the comings and goings of other people.  So, when I’m in the middle of something and Marylin gets back, I like to keep that focus.  And by the time I’m ready to ask her how her night was, she’s already on her laptop or out chatting with her parents.  I tend to miss the boat a lot.  There was one precious night recently that she came home very pleased with dinner and we had a warm exchange about that.  But other than that, at night we just don’t talk, because there’s so much going on in the cyber world that it’s hard to keep up.  Then of course, I also spend a lot of my time talking to Panda because whenever I see him, my mood brightens (and who doesn’t want that?).

So there’s definitely been some strain on our interactions, where we chose to avoid each other.  Though there have been many a moment that I tried to convince myself to approach her to say, “Hey, we need to talk,” I always talk myself out of it.  I just keep internalizing everything I think and feel.  Well, today I was having a chat with Starfish and she brought up how people have noticed the change.  That opened up the doors for me to share some of what I’ve been feeling.  She had apparently already heard from Marylin on the issue, so we were brought together to discuss.  From that, I know I’ve got a lot to work on in my… “areas of improvement.”  I have certainly not been the person I am capable of being while here and I’m still trying to figure out why.  So we aired out some of our grievances and got a chance to hear how our respective behaviors have been affecting each other.  Mostly we need to communicate more (and more openly), but, BUT, we also need to figure out if we have a common goal anymore.

It looks like plans may be changing yet again, which is not wholly unexpected, but I got so focused on the goal, that dream that was just out of my grasp, that I didn’t stop to think too much.  Ironic, since I tend to think too much.  But this was something I was doggedly pursuing in my hopes.  Forget all practicalities.  It was something I embedded into my mind and framed everything I did here in the context of.  I evaluated every single task based on how I could do it in LA, how I could make it work in a city like that.  It’s reminiscent of my younger days, when I decided I was going to be a businesswoman and get an MBA.  “But what are you going to study in college?” people would ask.  Oh.  Right… I had inadvertently skipped a step in my lofty ideals, forgetting that detail.  That you can’t get a Master’s without a Bachelor’s.  So then I set out to plan my college career and I guess I thought that this would work the same: have a destination, then figure out the details.

However, setting up a business (or even an extension or a branch of it) is far less straightforward than choosing majors.  It’s even more complicated when it’s overseas, you’re alone, and there’s a huge time difference.  So what now?  I don’t know.  It’s time to look closely at my fantasy and let it fade away to some sort of a reality.  I’m confused, but I know this much – I’m staying here for the rest of the duration to continue learning (and work on getting more involved in everything).  I’m not a risk-taker when it comes to my professional life when I should be, or at least more of one.  After all, what great entrepreneurs didn’t take risks, didn’t stumble, didn’t fall?  Though I know all this in my heart, it’s still hard to convince my logical brain that it’s worth all the struggle.  And really, I just don’t want to have to live off my parents, so they can do what they want with their money and not worry about still supporting me.  Maybe I will need to for awhile, to find my footing and understand what it is that I want from this life.

Entertainment and the internet’s disadvantages outside the states

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,

Can you read it? It says: "Catch Bones as early as 24 hours after the USA telecast."

Being one who never really paid attention to TV shows or movies, I didn’t know about the glaring disparity between when shows were available in the US and when they became available internationally. It wasn’t until I studied abroad in England that it started to be more apparent. When I first arrived in Scotland on my way to my school, I saw an ad for a movie that had been advertised back home three months earlier and was already old news. It was then that I started to learn about the time delay in getting things abroad.  It seems that since Hollywood is the hub for entertainment, most shows produced are in the states, done according to our laws.  Once it is something that needs to be prepped for an international audience though, it takes time for licensing, screening, and of course, translated subtitles or voice-overs.  I guess it really surprised me that that’s how it is in the UK because there’s no need for all the translation worries, so it really just comes down to legal issues.

Another thing I was surprised by was how what was legal to watch in the states was not legal outside of it.  So, I was promptly blocked from sites like Hulu once they detected my IP to be outside the allowed territories.  This I can understand, since American laws can only have jurisdiction over Americans and does not extend to foreigners in other countries.  Their own local companies would have to come up with some sort of agreement with the TV stations themselves.  Ok, I can accept that.  I’ll have to find more local sites to offer me these perks.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago, when Marylin was going through her “CSI Supreme Sunday” fix, watching hours of the various versions of the show all day.  One of the episodes was a two-part series to be continued the following week and of course, not wanting to wait, I went online to search for it.  It turns out that episode originally aired around a year old!  Shocked, I was reminded of that very first encounter I had with this idea of delayed entertainment and a filtering process that blocks people in other countries from seeing things as soon as Americans generally get to.  Of course, films that were created by non-Americans are exceptions, but nearly all American-made productions experience this red tape or whatever it is.

Today, however, I was surprised to find that Angels and Demons is released worldwide at pretty much the same time in most countries.  I don’t know if movies are more likely to get through international barriers or if this is a sign of changing times and a cohesion developing around the globe.  Maybe this movie is merely an exception to the rule, seeking out all international approval before deciding to release it anywhere.  Whatever the case, I think more shows should opt for this (what’s the point in making other audiences wait?).  I can see that potentially a lot of traffic is driven to online sites that offer free viewings of these productions.  I’m sure broadcasting and theater companies would prefer to have them seen on the big screen and on TV instead!

Slightly off-topic, but still related is websites that don’t allow access outside the US, like the Opt Out Prescreen site, the free annual credit report site, and US-only retailers.  The Opt Out Prescreen to reduce junk mail and credit card offers I can understand because if you’re not in the states you can’t possibly be receiving junk mail now.  The one thing I can see is if you are having your mail held while you’re away and don’t want to come back to find piles of outdated junk offers.  However, I feel like the free credit report that we are allowed by law each year should not be limited to being seen to only when you are in the country.  After all, I’m still using my US-based credit cards for all charges, which is affecting my credit, is it not?  So why can I not check up on that if I’m temporarily living out of the country?

Even worse are the retailers that do not let you even look at their site because they serve only on American soil, like  I was so confused about why they blocked me that I even sent them an e-mail explaining the various scenarios in which I should be able to access their site (and how they’re losing out on potential customers):

1. I am a foreigner who wants to buy a gift for someone I know in the states and have it shipped to them directly

2. I am a citizen who is just out of the country for awhile and I want to buy a gift for someone back home while I’m away (or this period could be more extended)

3. I am a citizen who is currently out of the country, but wanted to buy something to have by the time I got back (which was the case for me)

Honestly, what are you thinking?  If you didn’t track my IP address, I’d look like any of your other customers, using an American credit card mailing to an American address.  Well, good for them, they’ve lost my business.  And unless I get an e-mail back from them apologizing and undoing this, I’m certainly never going to use them, even when I’m back and have full access again.

Growing up in the states we are often so sheltered and privileged.  It’s not just this, but many deeply important ways as well, from the freedoms we have to the things we take for granted and never knew others don’t get.  If only for that reason, I think Americans should get out and not just visit, but immerse themselves in other countries and cultures, especially the ones that are more dissimilar to ours.  Otherwise, you may never know about these differences in seemingly given things that complicate the rest of the world.

The inevitable Mother’s Day post

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,

I like to be strange, different, unusual.  So, it’s almost too cliche to write about my love for my mother on Mother’s Day.  Not that I don’t like the idea – I certainly appreciate my mom and enjoy celebrating her role in my life!  However, it seems all to predictable to be writing about motherhood on this day.  I’m sure a good majority of the world is doing so and the blogosphere is alight with posts of a similar sentiment.  Even on Twitter, the most trending term is “Happy Mother’s Day.”  But, filial piety and maternal love win out in the end and I concede to do something all too normal and expected.  That’s my tribute to my mom, I guess.

When I ran into Marylin’s mother outside in the living room today, I made a point to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and inquire about her plans.  I was vaguely aware of dinner plans she and Marylin had with family friends, but I wasn’t sure if it was just a normal gathering or if the holiday would be acknowledged.  I guess it was kind of just a random gathering also meant to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  So celebrate away!  Celebrate all there is to celebrate on this day.  What struck me the most though, was her initial reaction to my well wishes: “Oh, I’d forgotten all about that.”  It reminded me so much of my mother and I asked Panda if his mother is the same way too.

You see, my mom’s the type of person who doesn’t remember Mother’s Day or her birthday, or any other day out there that’s meant to celebrate her.  I have a theory that she only remembered her birthday long enough for me to be old enough to remember it for her and now it’s just a fleeting memory in her mind.  So, every year, it’s up to me to remind her that, this is your day and I’m taking you out to eat, as our family tradition goes.  Over the years we’ve ended up going to the same Asian buffet for every holiday that we celebrate together, whether it’s Mother’s or Father’s Day, Christmas, or one of our birthdays.  We don’t make a big fuss out of these things and they pass rather quietly, but I make a point of never forgetting.  It’s one of the most basic ways I can show that I care.


Well, it turns out that not all mothers are like this and Panda’s mom quite likes to be recognized, at least in comparison with my mom.  I think I’ll be the type who won’t bring it up in the hopes that I will be remembered.  I asked Panda if he’d remember all the important days to celebrate and though he was reluctant to promise at first, in case something comes up, he eventually agreed to extend that promise to me.  After all, I realize that life gets in the way and I’m really only asking for his word that he’ll try his best, which I know he will.

So back to my wonderful mother.  Currently she and my dad are in LA again, so I hope they go out to a nice place to eat.  As the truly dedicated mom that she is, she’s helping me with my taxes and finances.  She was always the one I turned to for all things money related.  Right now she’s in a stage in her life where she isn’t sure what to do.  Before I left for Singapore, I spent my time trying to give her the confidence and hope that she needs to perhaps take a leap and go for her dreams.  After all, they were put off because she chose to take care of me fully, rather than be distracted by a job.  So now that she’s back in the work force, doing environmental consulting work with my dad, she’s looking to do more of what interests her.  And that is something in the aerospace industry, preferably along the lines of designing planes.  She feels like she’s too old and there isn’t a foothold for her to grasp in the industry.  The unfortunate thing is that employers don’t even want to consider her because she’s not as young and fresh as college graduates and she took so many years off from practicing her engineering expertise.  They don’t trust her to be as sharp and capable as she used to be, even though she has been teaching herself programs like AutoCAD and attended some courses at our community college.  How do you get people to give you a chance though?

So for now, she’s helping my dad out in his company, building up her resume again as she tries to think of how to get into Boeing or Northrup or Lockheed and the likes of them.  I fully support her and hoep that she can achieve what she wants, after all those years she gave up for me.  She gave me a privileged life growing up, with a mom who could always drop off a project I forgot to take to school with me, or drive me to the various swim and track practices and meets, or pick me up from school after all my extracurricular activities were over.  I remember when I was young I won a competition for writing about why I have the world’s best mom and I still have that essay to this day.  When I read it, it doesn’t seem all that exciting since I wrote it when I was in fifth grade, but apparently it was good for my age!

I hope everything is well with her now and I wonder where she’ll be when I return to LA.  I’m keeping a lookout for her, in case I hear of any opportunities that she may want to look into.  For now though, all I can do is be a good daughter and call her periodically to check in.  I think I really surprised her when I did that like two weeks ago.  We’re not a family built around constant contact and communication.

With that, I hope that everyone has spent some time to think about their own mothers and remember all the things they should be appreciated for.

Feline adoration

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have, as long as I can remember, always loved cats.  I like animals of all sorts, but felines are certainly my favorite out of the bunch.  Perhaps it’s because much of my behavior is like theirs, so I feel a connection.  Last night I ran into a plump kitty lounging around outside on my walk home.  Being the first time that I had come across a cat and I wasn’t headed anywhere or with anyone, I decided to stop to pet it.  I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl, but it certainly enjoyed my stroking and scratching.  I was reaching out pretty far, so I tried to shift to move closer, but that scared it a few feet away.  I considered trying to approach it again, but it takes some time for cats to trust you, so I decided that was enough for the night and headed back.  As I made my way back to Marylin’s, I thought of my beloved cats and how sad I am to not have them anymore.

The first cat I ever had got some sort of disease and had up to 90% of her lungs filling up with fluid before we found out and put her down.  That was the first time my dad and I cried together.  Actually, that’s the only time I can remember.  The second one we got had the longest life of them all and got sick recently, dying just on or past Christmas day 2008.  He was in China and my parents and I were in Cancun for the break.  I wish he could have held out for my dad to get back to him.  Then the third one we had just disappeared one day almost six years ago.  My mom is convinced that the coyotes or owls in the neighborhood caught him.  He was always a rambunctious one, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he ventured too far.  We’ll never really know what happened to him, but I can always hope that someone took him in and he’s happily squeezing himself into their sinks for his naps now.

This is Jerriey, our second kitty, curled up on my favorite blanket.

Lately cats have been on my mind a lot because one of Panda and my friends got herself a little kitten that was found on site for a Habitat for Humanity project.  That reminded me of the three other times I have come across cats that I really wanted to adopt.  First was a little black kitten we found at a club in the Echo Park area.  It was my first day on site for the filming of Wristcutters: A Love Story and this little guy was found hanging out in the back area

Little Echo.

Little Echo.

where the crew hung out as we waited through shots.  I named her Echo (I think the club was named that too) and gave her a lot of attention.  In fact, I even managed to convince the club owner to adopt her, since I couldn’t.  Next was a pair of kittens, brought to us on Wilshire Boulevard.  Katana and I were just walking along in Westwood when this kid comes running up to us and asks if we’d like to adopt kittens.  We looked at each other with those yearning eyes.  In our hearts, we really wanted to.  In our minds, we knew we couldn’t.  So, we only glimpsed the kittens he held in his hands, swaddled in his clothing before we sadly had to say no.  We watched as he ran down Westwood Boulevard and talked about how we could make it work.  Then, in the spur of a moment, we decided to go with our hearts and take them.  We went after the boy, but didn’t know where he had gone.  I looked to my left and noticed a pet store, so we went in.  The boy had just handed over the pair and when we tried to take them now, the store owner said she’d have to take them in for various shots and clean them up before we could come back to adopt them.  Sigh.  In the weeks after, we thought long and hard about how we could do this, even thinking we’d name them Boba and Udon (one was black and one was grey).  Unfortunately, practicality won out in the end and we never did go back for them.  Finally, the third came when I was volunteering at a cat home.  A tiny grey kitten was confined in a box with a plastic facing so we could see.  She was held there because she was still being treated after being rescued from Hurricane Katrina and,

Miss Katrina.

Miss Katrina.

consequently she was named Katrina.  I loved that little cat from the seconds we got to spend with her before turning our attention to the cats we could interact with.  Just the way she cocked her head when she looked at us was adorable enough for me to want her.  Unfortunately, I was still in school at the time and my dad had left the country, so it was just my mom taking care of the one cat we still had.  But I wanted a kitten to raise myself.

This is a dream I’ve held for years and years, ever since I got to carry little Jerriey home from the shelter, so cute and loveable.  He spent the whole time purring, which is what won me over.  I have mentioned this desire many a time and though he started off first not comfortable with the idea, he is now more open to it.  Granted, we had to have a whole hullabaloo of a… discussion over it, but he’s willing to consider it at least.  To me, having a cat is almost more important than having kids.  Not only are they nice to cuddle up with, their purring is good for your health.  They are very independent and don’t require much attention or care, which is how I live my life.  They train very easily, from going to use the litter box when nature calls to coming to eat dinner with the banging out a plate.  I also like to crawl into small spaces and squeeze myself into strange positions to sleep.  And come on, there’s a reason we call it the “catwalk” – they’re beautiful and graceful creatures!  Cats are highly misunderstood animals.  People take their independence for aloofness, much as they do with me.  And I think that is why I defend and adore them so much.  I’m misunderstood too.

Our friend's new kitten, isn't she precious?!

Our friend's new kitten, isn't she precious?!

Well, my dream of owning a cat is still very far off, sadly.  I have to wait until I’m settled enough to keep one with me.  I have to make sure I have the funds to buy all the food, litter, and catsitting services I would need to take care of it.  Thankfully, they love very simple little toys, so just a little catnip and some string or crumpled newspaper can do the trick.  Once I feel like I have the resources and capabilities to finally care for a cat of my own, I hope Panda will be ready to have one too (or maybe more).  He doesn’t even need to do a thing.  I’ll buy everything, scoop the kitty litter, feed them, play with them, and arrange for their care when/if we are away.  All he has to do is let me have one.  For now, he has agreed to catsit our friend’s kitten if she ever needs us to and we will go visit her after I get back.  I hope he likes that experience so he’ll be willing to have one of our own.

Back in high school Katana and I would joke about how we’d grow old and have properties next to each other, each with certain natural formations that we want (like a waterfall for me), and we’d both have houses full of cats.  (This was back when we imagined ourselves as old maids, never having been able to truly settle down.  I guess it could still work with men in our lives, as long as they allowed all the cats.)  At night, we’d both go out and sit on our rocking chairs on our porches to enjoy the nightfall, either knitting or petting a cat.  We’d have our houses close enough that we could see each other, but our property large enough for ponds and creeks and forests and whatnot.  I think it’d be great if we do end up that way.  Yup, we have all the makings ofbecoming crazy cat ladies.

Sheer exhaustion

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,

This is the first time that I did not post my entry prior to going to bed, since I began posting every day.  I like to get it out of the way earlier in the wee hours of the day so when I get busy/distracted later on, I won’t have to worry and I would still have the entire rest of the day to do it.  However, yesterday when I got back last night, a wave of exhaustion just took over me and I curled up on the bed with my body pillow.  It was so warm and cozy and Panda was taking a nap on his end, so I just drifted off.  The next thing I knew, I was waking up to find my computer turned off.  Disoriented, I deliriously turned my computer back on to find Panda again, but fell asleep again soon after.  I can’t recall if I ever did sign back on again or what happened from there, but I didn’t wake up again until the morning, as a storm was rolling in.

I’m not sure why I was so tired – perhaps it’s a combination of lack of sleep, long days, and not enough nutrition.  I don’t feel like I have been overworked or underfed though, so I really don’t know.  In fact, there are times where I am doing background reading and research that feels like my typical internet activity.  It has made me want to get more into social media or business psychology consulting, since I love to read article upon article about those topics.  So that’s all well and good, but I guess sometimes everything in your life just catches up with you and your body shuts down.  I think all the things that were bearing down on me just caught up with me.  I’ve been getting a lot of intense piercing pains and headaches this past month; I’ve never suffered through this kind of cranial pain before.  It’s not quite a migraine – the symptoms for that are far more intense – but it’s definitely not a pleasant experience.  I don’t know why I get them or what I can do about them (I’m not one to take painkillers unless I’m desperate, which happens like once every few months).

Emotionally I have been rather drained as of late.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to recover from being away from Panda.  I don’t miss him any less now than I did before.  I spend a lot of time wanting to go back just to see him, but at the same time I really value my time and experience here.  Still, it’s hard to get up and go out on the weekends when I can stay online and talk to him.  I don’t know why it’s so hard for me.  It also hasn’t been easy to find my own way here.  I’ve been trying to do more things on my own, which is good, but I’m doing it all alone.  There isn’t really anyone for me to hang out with or spend time with.  Not that I dislike anyone here, but I’m used to a lot of different social groups, all with different interests and preferences for activities.

And of course, there’s always the feeling that I don’t have a home to go to and crash at.  There is no space here that is exclusively mine, which is something I’m not used to.  It’s the exact opposite of how I grew up – with rooms to myself for most of the day and often the whole house to myself as my parents traveled around.  Even in college, when I shared my room with another girl, half of that room was mine.  I could do whatever I wanted and often had time alone in the room.  Plus, I could always go home home on the weekends.  So maybe it’s just caged bird syndrome that’s got me down.  It seems that I need to stop viewing myself so much as an outsider and guest here.  It’s hard to break away from that though, since most people I speak to outside of the office don’t seem to be able to understand me.  I feel so out of place when I’m not in the office or just alone and it’s a bit disheartening.

Marylin and I talked recently about how I don’t really interact with her parents, which is mostly why I still feel like a guest here.  I’m used to holing up in my room all day, doing my own things, so it doesn’t even occur to me to go out to the living room to talk to them, or something along those lines.  I’ve tried to greet them here and there, but I tend to be quiet when I do that and it gets lost in Marylin’s own greeting and consequent chatting with them.  So, I just keep walking and go to the room to give them time together.  After all, they hardly get to see each other, much less talk and hang out.  But it seems that my policy of "stay out of their way" is just alienating me and making them… not quite uncomfortable, but you get the idea.  It doesn’t help that I am hugely awkward with parents (or anyone I view in an authoritative position).  It took me a good 10-12 years to get myself to even be able to look them in the eye.

So, I need to work on putting myself out there more, even if it terrifies me.  I just don’t like to stand there awkwardly and not know what to do or say.  Before I left, my mom told me to offer to help with household chores, but that is taken care of the maid, so the most I do is clear the table after eating.  Starfish advised that I just ask them how their days were and I don’t know if I’m just not seeing opportunities to, but I feel like I haven’t really had a chance to say anything to them.  Either they’re watching TV or they’re not around.  Marylin’s mom will pop in on the weekends to offer me food, but by the time I go out to eat it, she’s retreated to her room or is out already.  There was one time she left it on the bed for me, so I just ate it in the room.  I usually don’t even see her dad around, but for when he’s watching a game or tournament.

And maybe it’s just me, but if I’m watching something, I don’t want to be disturbed.  On the weekends when Marylin’s going through her CSI Supreme Sunday fix, she tends to switch channels during commercials, which is something I never do.  If I’m watching something, I’m focused on it and I don’t want to miss out on any of it.  If it’s streaming live and I can’t pause it, I don’t do anything to disrupt that.  When it comes down to it, I just don’t know how to handle those situations.  When is it appropriate to say something?  What should I say?  How do I know if they’re talking just because they don’t want to be rude or if they actually don’t mind?  Sigh, I hate being awkward with older generations.  I’m not a "bring her home" type of friend.  I can’t even call them by their first names – the first time I called someone other than my peer by their first name was when I was 19.  Why am I so stiff?

Maybe this chronic exhaustion is due to too much processing for my brain.  From the work I’m doing and all that I’m learning to the struggles I’m undergoing, it’s a lot to handle.  I worry a lot because I think and analyze a lot.  I don’t like to share any of my stress though, so I’m hard-pressed to find an outlet.  I don’t like to complain and I don’t like to ask for help.  Meanwhile, Marylin will let out a sigh or talk about her frustrations with some of the work she’s trying to deal with.  Since I’m not used to expressions like that, it stresses me out to hear and see that too, especially when she taps her fingers impatiently.  For some reason, just hearing that speeds up my heart rate and makes me more anxious.  I tend to notice small details like that, which then makes things that aren’t a big deal out to be much bigger than usual.  I am a people-pleaser, but it seems that my approach in keeping to myself is not pleasing at all.  Then there are all the things I miss and want to do when I get back, but I’m trying to make myself focus on being here now and doing new exciting things.  It’s hard to be here and focused when my heart is not with me.  Whoever knew I could be such a homebody?

Gosh, I’ve got a lot to work on.

The comforts of home

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,

I miss the amenities of home – being able to go and buy my own food, make my own food, come and go as I please, and just feel in charge of my life.  I had a dream the other night that my grandma was living here; I was elated to discover this because it meant I could move in with her and take care of myself again.  Staying at Marylin’s is something I wouldn’t say that I’m struggling with per se, but I certainly am having some trouble with it.  There’s a sense of freedom in being responsible for taking care of myself.  I’m used to doing most household chores myself and now and it’s weird to have food cooked for me, my clothes washed for me, and my things cleaned for me.  It makes me feel too much like a guest.

Today was refreshing because I took it upon myself to wash some items, but I still feel strange whenever I’m in the kitchen, so I’m certainly not about to pull out a pan to cook myself something.  Instead, I bought myself some salad and fruit to eat, but since I spend most of my time at the office, I’m keeping them there.  My eating habits don’t match up with any traditional method or what people tend to do (however many meals a day) – I like to snack throughout the day and have one or two larger meals, but mostly just be munching every hour.  That’s a lot harder to do when the food is offered up and then it’s expected to be cleared away after a certain period.

I also like to wander around outside or drive around, which is not exactly an option for me here.  I suppose I could always go downstairs for a stroll or a swim (I wonder if I need a special key for entry?), but I feel bad making someone open the door for me whenever I get back.  It’s difficult to find a good balance between doing what I want to and also not getting in the way or being an inconvenience.  I tend to think everything I do is disruptive except for staying in the room, out of everyone’s way.  And so that is what I do for pretty much 90% of the time that I am here.

It’s an unfortunate combination of factors working here.  For one, it’s not worth it to move to my own place – I’d end up paying to be here and I don’t want to dig into my savings (or my parents’ generosity).  Yet, staying with her poses a myriad of conundrums.  I’m very grateful that Marylin and her family have so generously taken me in, but I feel like I have to tiptoe around everything.  I don’t want to use too much of their resources.  I feel guilty every time her mom so kindly buys me lunch that is ready for me when I wake up on the weekends.  I feel awkward asking their maid to do anything, so I try to do it myself, but then I feel like I’m breaching her territory.  I try to stay away from the living room in case that makes them feel like they can’t use that space.  I don’t talk to her parents very much because I don’t want to disturb them.

All these things are nobody’s fault, but just unfortunate byproducts of the situation.  I’d much rather be on the other end, offering my home and resources to others.  In fact, I often imagine how things could be when I get back and after we’ve found a way to get Marylin over there too (and possibly others!).  Of course, everything else I miss about home doesn’t help things either.  I’ve been getting a lot of invites to events occurring on campus and I wish I could be there to attend, as an alumna now.  This weekend is the Festival of Books and it will be the second year that Livescribe has a booth there.  Last year I was there, working the booth as a campus rep, so I wish them another successful weekend!

I’m going to compile a list of all the things I want/should do in Singapore (and maybe nearby countries, if I can make it) and start figuring out when I’ll have time to get around to doing them all.  That’ll help get me out of the house, see more of Singapore, andkeep me entertained.  I shouldn’t spend my weekends lying around all day, drinking water incessantly and doing who knows what online.  Sometimes I amaze myself with how I distract myself.  I hope that before I know it, I’ll be headed home (though a bit nostalgic and sad to be leaving here).

PC vs. Mac: the neverending debate

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,

Disclaimer:  I have a strong bias towards PCs, so Mac-lovers may not like what I say.

Before I started to work here, Marylin warned me that I was entering Mac territory and would likely have to convert.  Dismayed, I tried to keep an open mind about it, but ultimately did not want to make the switch.  Thankfully, I have been able to use my HP Pavilion with few problems.  The only thing that stands out is my inability to connect to the company network to access shared files.  Other than that, I find that my PC is perfectly fine and usually outperforms those little Macs.  Unfortunately, my colleagues are far too enamored with Macs to appreciate it.  Recently, it seems like a lot more of the differences have become apparent to me.

First, let me go through the three experiences I had lately regarding the two different operating systems.  It started when I was retrieving some information off a website to store in our database for reference.  I thought I should use a Mac because it’s linked to the shared drive, so I could download directly to that.  However, I quickly lost patience using the clumsy mouse pad and decided to get it all done on my PC and then transfer it over via a thumb drive.  I found some articles that were embedded in the site, so they needed to be copy-pasted and then converted to a PDF.  When I did that on the Mac, all formatting was lost and I had to go through to change everything.  After switching over to my PC, I discovered that a quick copy-paste would yield basically ascreenshot of what was on the site, all formatting preserved nearly perfectly.  It was a breeze making the PDFs that way.

The next time I came across an issue was at a meeting, where Macs don’t have the right plug to connect to a projector, so we had to use my computer to present a PowerPoint to the clients.  Macs need this converter thing, which is such a hassle to remember to bring along.  Finally, later that same day I was compiling a list that I wanted to store in a database, where I could tag each item with keywords to cross-reference them according to the various categories they fit under.  I was looking into using Access to accomplish this, which would have been fine and dandy, except Macs can’t read those files.  So now we’ve got to look for a paid program or I’m going to have to painstakingly figure out how to make it work out decently on Excel.

Now my main reasons for preferring PCs have always been:
1. The right click!  So much functionality has been lost from not having that.  I really can’t live without it.  Granted, it seems that Apple has finally caught on are adding that in now.
2. The toolbar is at the top of my open box, no matter where that box is.  Why does it have to be the very top, no matter what program is open and where it is on the screen?  What if my window is open at the bottom right?  Then I have to travel all the way to the opposite corner to get to the “Finder” thing just to use the menu options.
3. Double-clicking that expands to full screen.  I am used to it expanding to full screen, not shrinking!  How do you even expand on a Mac, is it that teeny little green button?d
4. The buttons along the bottom of the screen to show all the programs I have open and one button to press to go to the desktop.  I often forget what is even still open on a Mac, and can someone please tell me if there’s any order to how the little screens appear when you sweep to one of those corners that shows all the open windows?  I don’t like accidentally moving my mouse to a corner and BAM everything disappears, or everything appears when I don’t want it to!
5. The backspace AND delete options.  Backspace removes characters to the left and delete removes characters to the right of the cursor.  Delete on a Mac does what backspace does on a PC.  So what on a Mac does what the delete does on a PC, pray tell?

And for HPs, I love the little remote that I get to allow me to control PowerPoints, movies, my music, or any other form of media from up to 10 feet away.  Then I am no longer tied down to where my laptop is sitting (like when it’s tied to the cable connecting it to the projector), so I am free to walk around as I present something, sit further away to watch a show, or dance around to my music, changing it as I want to hear a new song.

Another thing is that I like my mouse sensitivity set at very high.  I don’t know if it’s just because none of the Mac users I know like to make their mouse move faster, but I don’t have the patience to wait for the mouse to casually make its way across the screen.  In this new age of efficiency, that is just too slow.  I like a very sensitive touchpad.  And can someone explain to me why there’s an “apple” button and a control button?  Everything done with the apple button can pretty much be done with a control on a PC, so what in the world is the control for?  Is it trying to make up for the previously lacking right-click?  Maybe this is just something I’d get with time using it, but it seems superfluous to me.

A friend once told me that Macs are designed to be very childish and simple.  That’s very true.  Sometimes they are so simple it doesn’t make sense.  (Like the Finder example above – it’s very easy to always expect the toolbar in the same spot, no matter what, but it is also inefficient in many cases.)  Everything in their design is about simplicity and plainness.  Just one simple color, no designs.  Just one touch pad, nothing else.  Just a few small slits for USBs and CDs.  Oh, speaking of which, there are hardly enough USB ports!  With a wireless mouse and a thumb drive plugged in, they’re already maxed out!  What if I want to plug in just one more thing?  Now maybe it’s just my computer and not all PCs have three slots, but I’m comparing what I have to what I’ve seen of Macs (the new silver ones with the glass screen).

Even their logo is childish and simple.  For 22 years it was the apple shape we all know, but shaded in rainbow colors.  A very simple design and all those colors is rather reminiscent of crayons.  After it was revamped to be the new version that could be blown up without looking tacky, it’s now no more than a silhouette.  Yes, it looks sleeker, but it is still very basic.  And that is great for them – it costs much less to print just one color, the logo is easily recognizable, and it can readily be duplicated.

What I do like about Macs are the scrolling option if you use two fingers, as well as the expand or shrink option if you move your two fingers further away from or closer to each other.  They also tend to be the quietest, though if I keep my laptop parallel to the ground and off of soft surfaces, it doesn’t complain either.  The new glass screens are quite nice as well, leaving less room for dust to get in cracks and giving a nicely smooth texture.  And I do agree that Macs tend to be better for creative work though, in terms of design and whatnot.

My one gripe about my laptops are that they are dead heavy.  I have that one coming though, since I prefer to get the ones with wide screens and this one also has a reserve battery power that gives me extra oomph.  My shoulders pay the price of that decision, but ultimately I don’t mind.

The sleek designs of Macs are much of what makes them appealing, but a lot of functionality is lost through that.  I guess that’s why they sell/don’t se
ll.  Some of the population is out for aesthetics over usability.  Most of the population is looking for functionality.  And I am one of those individuals who would not pay exorbitant amounts for looks.  But hey, to each his own, I guess.

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