Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A to-do list

There are many things that I really ought to get onto, except they keep getting forgotten in the busy-ness of day-to-day life. So this list really ought to be written in thick marker pen, on an A2 sheet of paper. Some of the items listed have been waiting for months...

  • buy marker pens for the hardcopy of my to-do list
  • Source washable name tags and labels for TLM's stuff that she takes to daycare
  • Get a will
  • Get TLM's Dora the Explorer tent mended (it was only a month old when the air mattress collapsed on us, and we never did find our proof-of-purchase)
  • find someone to clean out the guttering and fix all the water damage to the front porch
  • chase up my ex-workmates at the Bank, and ask them to find me a part-time documentation job.
  • file the stack of old bill statements, which is currently crowding my desk
  • think of wacky things to do, so I have something interesting to blog about in future (this is a nod to nigel patel)
  • donate my unwanted CDs to TLM's daycare (they might like the Hasselhoff I got last Christmas)
  • refresh my undie stock
  • change the bed sheets
  • finish the abstract painting I started in July
  • do something to those high-waisted jeans that I ripped the waistband off of (to allow breathing), so that the top of them doesn't stick out like an extra proboscis.
  • remove the two boxes of unwanted paperbacks from the hallway and take 'em to the Salvation Army store.

    I need you guys to nag me every so often, to remind me to tick something off the list. Okay?
  • Monday, October 29, 2007

    Professionally good-looking?

    A fellow parent today suggested that The Little Madam is so cute she could do it for a living. I've thought of it myself, but this is the first time someone else has mentioned the idea. Of course, I'd never want her to be a teen model - I've heard scary things about what happens to 13-year-olds when they get sent to Milan for "finishing". But modelling little kids' clothes, that would certainly earn a few dollars towards her education fund, eh?

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    Snot much fun

    I used up a whole box of tissues today, what with all the sneezing and the nose-blowing - and that doesn't include the snots coming out of TLM's nostrils.

    The whole bath-bed routine becomes much more difficult when I've got a head cold. Bathtime takes longer because I keep having to stop to blow my nose; storytime is a lot messier when my nose is dripping like it's an ingredient in a chemistry lab; and singing those two lullabies, at the very end of the routine, sounds much...gluggier...when my sinuses are full to the brim (despite the dripping and blowing).

    I've taken Sudafed, but they've been about as effective as a couple of sugar pills.
    Got any drugs that work?

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    The wrong time to go feminine

    Geez, it takes me more than 25 years to work out what clothing styles suit my body shape, and as soon as I have a baby it's back to the drawing board.

    I've been on my never-ending mission to find tops that I can wear with skirts, without ending up resembling a barrel of peanut oil. And I've come to realise that only fitted tops (i.e. neither Catwoman-clingy nor baby-doll poufy) will do. But this season's styles spit at me and smirk at me with scorn, because today's shopping expedition uncovered only two types of women's tops: 1) baby doll stuff that would've been damned useful when I was 6 months pregnant, and 2) clingy stuff that looks amazing on models and 14-year-old girls, and which might've looked good on me when I was 6 months pregnant.

    SO, this summer I will wearing out my jeans.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Something I learned on Monday

    On Monday, when TLM and I were visiting my mother, I commented to my mother how good TLM was to wear her sunhat the whole time she was outside. And in exactly that precise moment that I uttered those words, TLM knocked off her sunhat and refused to put it back on. Mum's response was that I should never have praised TLM in the first place.

    For years, my mother never praised me for things that might have deserved it. When I won school prizes or got A's, she always sounded like it was the least I could do to thank her for raising me. At first, I thought it was because she was simply impossibly hard to please. But I talked to family friends and learned a little about customs of Old China. Chinese kids are told they're lazy, stupid or ugly because it protects them from being kidnapped by evil spirits, who'd much prefer a cute, clever and diligent child.

    After Monday though, I know the real reason my mum avoids saying nice things about me. She's just trying to cheat Murphy's Law.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Dropping no eaves, here

    I try to spend an hour or two every week doing the cafe thing. By this I don't mean socialising with my buds over caffeine and cake, but sitting alone with a flat white (okay, and cake too) and my writing notebook. But I'm very bad at people-watching, and even worse at eavesdropping on their conversations (to develop my ear for dialogue, of course!).

    Sometimes there are plenty of people around me talking, but I can't make out what they're saying because of all the background noise. Sometimes those inconsiderate people just aren't talking loudly enough for me to hear (hmmm...maybe I need a hearing aid?).

    But most of the time, I live too much inside my own head when I'm sitting on my own.

    So I'm thinking, the writers who can create great, believable characters, and can write believable dialogue - they're the ones who'd make good spies and private detectives.

    I'm thinking, I should start having coffee with friends for a change.

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Too cunning for her own good

    TLM is still having a hard time with the separation that comes with naptime. While she was eating lunch, I mentioned that once she finished we would do our books'n'naps routine. So she took a really long time to eat. Every time I started to take her food away, she'd go "no no no", and once I put it back she'd spoon a grain of rice into her mouth, trying to make lunch last as long as possible.

    When I was in my early teens, there was a time when I would force down many, many bowlfuls of rice gruel for breakfast, refusing to stop until my stomach threatened to give it all back, all at once. I did this to avoid beginning work i.e. working in my mother's hot, steamy kitchen where she made Chinese goodies for the evil, exploitative locals willing to pay for them. Small wonder that I ended up with an eating disorder.

    Anyway, not only is TLM about a decade younger than I was when I went down that particular track, but really it's not the sort of message I want her to learn. So I promised that today she would have her nap in the hammock, in the lounge - without the 20 minutes of howling in her room first - because I didn't want her making herself sick.

    She's a smart girl, that one.

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    For pity's sake

    My last post didn't attract any condolences, and it's obvious that I'm hopeless at expressing emotional stuff. Is this any better at conveying how sorely we miss the boy?

    Readers, I miss him. The king-sized bed is far too empty with just me in it, and this tiny cottage is a big pit of despair when the boy's 6'2" form isn't stomping around in it. TLM misses him too, though of course she doesn't say so explicitly. There were some idle moments this weekend when she should have been cadging steak and cheese pie off him, and couldn't. She misses his boisterous play, his endless patience with her, and the spelling lessons he gives at bathtime. Naptimes are horrendous because that's when TLM becomes hysterical with the knowledge that I won't be with her - and the fear that I'll be off next. Bedtimes are easier only because she's too tired to keep up the sobbing.

    It was cruel to schedule this business trip to coincide with the first long weekend since June, because I don't feel I can impose myself on friends who've probably either left town for the holiday, or want to have extra family time to themselves. I can't even give TLM an extra daycare session, to give me a break, because it'll probably exacerbate her anxiety.

    I don't like this solo parenting gig.

    Saturday, October 20, 2007


    I guess I spoke too soon when I posted about the end of The Little Madam's separation anxiety.

    Recently she's started to get upset when I've left her at daycare, even though for a long time it hadn't been a problem. And it's even worse now that the boy is out of town for business. When I tried to put TLM down for her nap, she cried so hard it made her hiccup and I ended up putting her in her old baby hammock in the lounge (where she slept for a record 2 1/2 hours). She started to do the same thing tonight, but I was firm this time and walked out on her even as she bawled (thankfully she went quiet shortly after.)

    On the whole though, I'm not worried about her in the longer term. I have this theory that the clingier they are at age 2, the more likely they'll end up hitchhiking though Africa (or something equally adventurous) at age 22.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    Writing what I know

    I've just finished the first draft of my second short story (it took me 8 tries, but it's still a first draft). Just like my first story, it's about people who aren't Chinese New Zealanders. I'm wondering whether this is a bad thing.

    The latest short story anthology I've been reading has stories by Asian Americans i.e. ethnic Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian, Filipino, Japanese or Korean (in this book, anyway). And just about every story in this collection is about Asian Americans.

    I suppose that isn't surprising, since we are supposed to write from our own experiences of the world. But if that's the case, how come it's no easier for me to write about Chinese New Zealanders, than to write about white folks? Is this some kind of manifestation of a subconscious rejection of my own culture? Am I simply expressing a view that storylines are universal? Have I been too thoroughly influenced by the white culture I've grown up in? Am I over-analysing?

    It's just something I find interesting, that's all.

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Gimme V-necks

    Apparently it's Love Your Body Day on Wednesday. EDEN (Eating Difficulties Education Network) are selling a range of t-shirts that say "Love Your Body". The designs on the t-shirts are attractive enough, but I'll never buy one. Why? Because those high, round necks make me look fat. Serious!

    Saturday, October 13, 2007


    Tea-towels with little children's handprints on them (including my darling daughter's) - a nice Christmas present for the family, no?

    Except I'm worried that there's some Chinese superstition which regards children's handprints on tea-towels as bad luck.

    It's not as silly as it sounds, you know. I once had to ruin a perfectly good painting of my nephew gazing at a toy truck, because my mum was terribly offended by a picture which included both a child and a truck. Another time, when I was a kid, she was offended by my present of a set of pretty candles and candlesticks. And then there was the time we couldn't order duck for my mum's eightieth birthday - something to do with the duck's bill - I never did figure out the reasoning behind that one.

    I had a quick Google, and though I found some very interesting superstitions that I didn't find last time I looked, I wasn't able to find out whether the tea-towel gift would be a bad idea.

    Perhaps this is why she prefers cash.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Yesterday's scary activity

    For years, I've always thought of those petrol station car wash services as a waste of money. Because, if you want your car cleaned, it only takes 20 minutes to soap, spray and wipe it yourself. But as I haven't managed to wash my car once, in the 18 months we have owned it, I decided to throw money at the situation and take it to the car wash.

    Remember, this was the first time I'd ever been in one of those automated thingummies.

    First of all, I couldn't work out how to get my side mirrors to fold in, as the sign instructed. So while I was in there I worried that they would snap off with the pressure of those enormous rubbery brushes.

    And the other thing was that it's really noisy, it makes the whole car vibrate, and from the inside it looks and feels as though I'm being attacked by an oversized, multi-coloured St Bernard dog. Or a creature from a comedy version of Supernatural.

    Even the hot-air-blowing gadget made me nervous. How did it know not to hit the roof of my car?

    I was glad I hadn't taken TLM with me - she was at daycare - because I could imagine her being at least as uncomfortable (okay...scared) as I was.

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    The psychology of reading preferences

    This isn't going to be a well-researched thesis, or even a well-thought-out idea; more an opening for a discussion.

    Being temporarily out of books to read, last night I grabbed Lionel Shriver's We Need To Talk About Kevin again. I've already read it through twice, and here I am starting it for the third time. I'm starting to wonder whether it's significant, that it's so easy for me to enjoy a novel about the mother of a high school mass murderer.

    I like to think that, apart from the story, it's Shriver's great writing style that draws me in, her use of language (lots of interesting words but none of them I have to look up in the dictionary).

    Or maybe its Eva's (the main character) love of intrepid travel that reminds me of myself. Her ambivalence about motherhood resonates with me, but I think I'm much, much happier than she was.

    It's definitely not that I think TLM will turn out like Kevin. Although TLM will probably grow up to be some sort of mad genius, I truly believe she won't be an evil one. could really do one's head in...

    So - how do you think that your favourite book reflects your self?

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    Cinema for he-men

    The other night, there was nothing on the telly and I told the boy he could put on any DVD he wanted. He knows that whenever I say this, what I really mean is "anything except one of those god-awful Star Wars movies".

    So he put on 300. He's actually had it for ages and already seen it many times; just never put it on for me because it is, as he puts it, a men's movie. He likes it so much it makes him all tingly with testosterone, which is what Gladiator also does for him.

    Actually, it's not a bad a movie. As long as you treat it as a propoganda tale intended to rev the ancient Greeks into a frenzy of united warfare against a common enemy, it's really quite watchable.

    Although I must say that the six-packs (of which there are many) are as obviously "enhanced" as Pamela Anderson's boobies. Something of a disappointment in this respect.

    Thursday, October 04, 2007

    No more frowning

    Last night I found some frown lines on my face. I was horrified enough to plaster on extra moisturizer before going to bed. But when I told the boy about them, he said it is okay to use Botox. I suppose that's nice of him...

    I've resolved to try and avoid frowning, as much as I can.

    I can now see a clear and practical link between the twin reputations Asians have for

    1. inscrutability and
    2. agelessness.

    Oh, how I curse my expressive youth...

    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    Learning lingo

    It's kinda cute when TLM says "Vamanos" if she wants us to go somewhere right now. She learned it, and other Spanish words, from watching Dora the Explorer on TV (see, television doesn't necessarily rot your brain).

    I wish there was a Cantonese version of the Dora show, because I don't make much effort to teach her Cantonese, myself. So now I'm trying to imagine how Cantonese Dora would look and sound. She'd be darker-haired, and possibly shorter too, than original Dora. She'd have a name that's easily pronounced by native Cantonese speakers, like "Lucy" perhaps, which has no "r" sounds or "v" sounds (that's right, my mother can't even say my own name properly).

    And to be an authentic character, Cantonese Dora/Lucy would have to spend most of her screen time making money in her own business, or else playing mah jong. And hanging around with her parents a lot, because she respects authority. She wouldn't be hanging with Boots the monkey, because he'd have been sold as food long ago. There'll always be a packet of rice in her backpack, as well as school books (because it's her duty to get straight "A"s.


    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Playing favourites

    Now that TLM has grown out of her separation anxiety, her daddy is once again the favoured parent. I can accept that she'd rather play with him than with me, because I can totally understand why. He's so much better at putting on a smile even when he hasn't slept well the night before, or had a bad day at work. Me, I'm no good at putting on masks.

    What does annoy me is discovering that, whenever the boy puts TLM down for a nap or bedtime, she goes to sleep without fuss and (for her naps) stays asleep for two hours. When it's my turn, she's likely to get right up and practice walking in a sleeping bag. She's also a lot more likely to not nap at all. (Last Friday, she didn't fall asleep until after we'd been around the zoo - it was about 4.30pm by then, and when she woke up grumpy as hell I realised we'd have been better off letting her stay awake all day.)

    So yeah, the boy gets more smiles, elicits better behaviour in the supermarket, and produces longer naptimes. Maybe I should get a job.