Friday, December 31, 2004

Exit 2004

What a year it has been. Here are the highlights, in no particular order.

Baby Jesse came into our lives. We found out about the little guy early in the year and in August, he was born. What an amazing thrill-ride that was. Mae and I grew up a lot this year. Just a year back we were still, pretty much two crazy kids trying to make sense of everything - the world, the economy, the marriage... and suddenly, we're parents. Yup, we grew up alright. In fact we're still growing up, so much so we're beginning to feel it in our aching bones. Hahahhah! Still, parenthood is amazing and rewarding, provided all those night-feeds and diaper-changes don't kill you first!

I blogged for the first time. Thanks to an ex-colleague who showed me the ropes. It's been a fun ride - made even more so by all of your visits and comments. Thanks peeps! Hopefully, this blog will go on till Mae and I become grandparents. :)

I moved office to a nicer place. It's always fun to work in a nice office. Our old office was a dump. Our new office is soon becoming a dump. Heh! I better enjoy it while it lasts.

We got a digital camera. Somehow, this is a highlight. My previous camera was a LOMO - first introduced to me aeons ago by Hiney, who incidentally (I'm assuming) doesn't own one. Ahaks! Hmm, perhaps I'll post some of my old pics. Those were pretty groovy.

We went to Hanoi. That was a great time. The next time we go anywhere will be when Jesse's old enough to walk. Oh man.

Yeah, 2004 was a pretty good year except for that last bit when the Tsunami struck. Still, God had been pretty good to us and we know He will continue to be so. So, as much as I hate to see 2004 go, I'm also excited to dive right into 2005. Ahhh...

So, do have a good 2005, folks. May your live be richly blessed and may God watch over you and yours.

PS: Heh! Does this post look like one of those cheap shots they take with sitcoms? Y'know the ones where they show you snippets of past episodes? *sigh* It's confirmed. My life is like a cheap sitcom.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Making Right

Even though we were hundred of miles away from danger, we were all shaken by Sunday's earthquake in Sumatra all the same. Suddenly, our little comfort zone doesn't quite feel so comfortable anymore.

"We better make right with God," Mae said, grimly. She always had a way with such things. But I knew she was right.

A couple of years back, we visited Mae's old church. A certain Dr. Samuel Doctorian spoke that Sunday. He had had a vivid dream. In it he was visited by five angels who told him that they were the Five Angels of the Continents. "The Angel of Asia said that earthquake will wreak Asia and the ocean will cover up the land!" he cried out in melodramatic fashion. I was fairly new to Christianity then - much like how Scully was new to the X-Files. "What drama," I said to myself and dismissed it as the man's overactive imagination. And left it at that.

Sunday night, I was reminded of his words once again. Perhaps its curtain time for us all. Perhaps not. Either way, it was a wake up call. Whether or not you believe in the End Times as prescribed by Christian Scholars (or any other religious people, for that matter), the underlying message of the End Of Days isn't all that mysterious:


For some strange reason, putting the word "God" in that sentence tends to piss some people off. But you don't have to be a person of faith to appreciate the gravity of that message. It's just a call to live life to the fullest (not a life of selfish excesses, mind you)! Live each day as if it were your last. Carpe diem. Or whatever cliche comes to mind.

"You Christians suck," my cousin once said. "You sin every day of the week and on Sunday you go to church, ask for forgiveness and get your ticket back to Heaven!" His statement floored me and left me quite speechless. But I realise now that it isn't quite as simple as this. What if I died on a Saturday?

"We better make right with God." Mae was always the smarter one in such matters. "We need to do right in whatever we're doing now," she added. And I realised that a life worthy of God isn't ONLY going to church or praying harder. It's also to be a better person, a better worker, a better boss, a better friend, a better son and at this point in my life, a better father.

I realise that I can never promise my son that Tsunamis will never strike. But I can promise to hold him tight when it does. Last night, Jesse woke up startled. I cradled him in my arms and reassured him, "Daddy's gonna do the best he can."

I'd like to think that's all God really expects from us; to do the best we can. It's reassuring to know that we can always afford to do a little better.

NOTICE: By the way, if you feel that you'd like to make right with God by giving, details can be found at Mack's and Papi's.

Friday, December 24, 2004

First Christmas


It's Jesse's first Christmas ever. Woo!

For us, it's yet another year of a last-minute shopping frenzy, frustration and pressure. I hate how Christmas is so commercialised. I mean, why can't we all just shake hands, hug, eat turkey and say "Merry Christmas"? That way, everyone will save a bundle. The same should apply for Chinese New Year and Valentine. And maybe even birthdays. Hehheh! Okay, I admit. I'm a damn cheapskate!

But like everybody else, we succumb the commercialisation anyway. And so, we got Jesse a gift. It's a small toy radio that plays baby hits. He'll probably not understand what it's all about but we'll wrap up his little present anyway, just for the fun of it. And on Christmas morning, we'll help him rip it up. And knowing the little tyke, he'll probably like the wrapper more than the gift. Heh! He's kinda dopey that way.

Oh, by the way, I think Christmas is kinda sucky this year since it falls on a Saturday when most of us are on holiday anyway. And as if that didn't suck enough, New Year's Day is on Saturday too. Bah, humbug! What a ripoff.

Oh well, at least there'll be turkey to eat. Merry Christmas y'all! :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Blinding Flash

Mae's been flashing Baby. But with flashcards, mind you. And Jesse's loving it, laughing and gurgling all the way. Anyway, at dinner yesterday I was having my daily conversation with Jesse when Mommy decided to get educational.

"You should inject some of the new words he learnt today into your conversation," Mae advised. "But all he learnt today were names of fruits and vegetables," I protested. Mae, being Mae was adamant that her son gets the most of her efforts. "Just do it lah!"

Jesse had just learnt the words Tomato, Papaya, Radish and Cherry.

And so Daddy makes the most of the words. "Son, when you grow up don't you go round popping anyone's cherry otherwise Mommy will crush your tomatoes and banish you from her papayas!"

"You idiot!" Mae screamed. Hehhehhh!!!

"Well, he also learnt Bitter Gourd and Cauliflower," Mae tried to stump me. "Look Jesse, Mommy's all bitter like a bitter gourd now," I told the boy. "She might give you a cauliflower ear!"

"Radish!" Mae was not giving up without a fight. "Don't radish in popping anyone's cherry, son." Okay, so that should have been "relish" instead. Hehhehh.

Guess I'm just not cut out to be an educator. :)

Monday, December 20, 2004


Mae and I have been thinking about getting a new place. Our little family is beginning to outgrow our little home.

Currently, we live in a small 900-something sqft Condo with 2 rooms and a storeroom. I moved in 4 years ago and it was perfect. Then Mae moved in with me and it got cosier. But ever since Baby showed up, it's started to get a little claustrophobic!! Now here's a boy with excess baggage.

You never, ever expect this. But when a baby shows up in your life, he isn't just contented sharing your space. He's conquering the land and driving out the natives.

You think, "Feh, he's just a kid. What does he need all that room for?." Wrongo, bubbo! He's got plenty of stuff - diapers, clothes, beddings, toiletries, crib, stroller, car seat, bottles, flasks, formula, toys, steamer, bath tub, etc. The list is endless. And his stuff is all over the place now - in his room, in our room, in our store, in the kitchen, in the living room, everywhere!

He's taken over half the house. And just think, this is just one kid. *sigh* No wonder the Ibans live in longhouses!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Short Shots #1

I have a theory about guys and girls, and their relationship with each other: Men like to be teased; Women like to be pleased.

To get a guy to want you, all you gotta do is let him know he can't have you. Of course you'll also need to remember that guys are visual creatures. Don't be looking like some frumpy auntie and still hope to make it in his wishlist. Ehhheh! We're shallow, what can I say?

Women are more... erm... sophisticated. To please a woman, you gotta appreciate her. Anticipate her. And understand her. And to understand her, you need to know the one universal truth about her.

Repeat after me: Women love McDonalds. (*universal truth applicable to Malaysian women only)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I Knee-ded You

TV Smith's latest must surely strike a chord in our hearts. Or in our crotch when the little buggers lose control of their roller shoes.

In my youth (which was before the time of such a dastardly invention), I had a surefire way to deal with unruly children at a shopping mall. Back then, the kids merely ran about on their regular shoes. But they were annoying all the same. During the times when such a wild child ran towards me unknowingly, I would rise to the occasion.

Actually I would raise a knee to the occasion. Just high enough to meet the child in his chest. Thereon, inertia would do the rest. "Hey, Mr. Solar Plexus, meet Mr. Knee!"

The science behind it is simple enough. Upon contact of the child's celiac plexus with my age-hardened patella, said child's abdominal cavity momentarily collapses under the force of the impact. This action is countered with said child's diaphragm compressing his lungs whereupon its gaseous contents are expelled into the atmosphere. In short, it knocks the wind out of him.

And here, the strangest thing happens. They don't ever cry.

Perhaps it's the excruciating, numbing pain. Or perhaps it's the shock. Or maybe it's even because they know they had it coming. Either way, they never cry. They just limp sheepishly back to their parents' side where they should have been in the first place. Hehh!

Okay, okay, so I was an angst-ridden psycho in my turbulent youth! But now that I am a parent, I realise that just like I once prowled the malls for naughty kids, someone out there is doing the very same even as I write this. Therefore, as a responsible parent, I will refrain from giving my child roller shoes. I will also endeavour to educate my son in the ways becoming of a respectable and well-mannered child so that he will not be subjected to the same fate as my victims of yesteryear.

And if all else fails, a knee in the gut will be just as effective. Okay, okay, I'm kidding. I promise.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Night Fright

Parenthood is tough. You're on call round-the-clock cos your baby isn't on any kind of fixed routine during the first few months. If you think feeding the kid or changing him is big task, wait till you do it in the middle of the night, half awake. It gets even worse when baby refuses to go back to sleep.

Couple of weeks, Mae decided she would wean Jesse off his night feeds. "It'll be over in three days," Mae proclaimed with confidence. I inquired where she had obtained such a definite timeline. "My mother said so." I had been married long enough to know exactly when to shut up, so I did. Heh! My mother-in-law, bless her, has a knack for... erm... precision timing. Trust Baby to throw a spanner in the works.

As you can imagine it was torture, for all of us. Jesse woke up every night around 2am - 3am expecting his regular fix of milk. Instead, Mae gave him only water. Poor little guy cried bloody murder. Mae had to cajole him back to sleep for about 2 hours before he finally relented. And me, I cried myself to sleep hearing my firstborn's suffering.

Hhhahaaha... okay, so it wasn't quite like that. But Mae knew I couldn't do what she did. "You're too soft!" she said. "We'll be feeding him nights till he's three!" And so I let Mae do the dirty work. I'm happy being the good guy in our "Good-Cop-Bad-Cop" routine.

It's been over a week. After much tears, sweat and a whole load of prayers, Baby's finally gotten the hang of it. Much to our relief. So, it's on to the next challenge whatever that may be.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Skin Deep


Mae and I have no illusions about our baby. I mean, we like the little guy and all. On top of that, he's our own flesh and blood. But do we consider Jesse a beautiful baby?

I work in advertising. Occasionally, I get people come up to me with their babies and ask, "Hey, you want a baby model for your ads?" Never mind that most of the time their kids are hardly model material. Never mind if some of them are even bordering on hideous. The people who ask this question usually mean it.

I'm usually tempted to ask, "A model for what product?" The answers come easily. Pet food. Wrinkle cream. Hair loss treatment. Scouring pads. Hehhehh! And those ads that need a "BEFORE" shot.

Parents tend to think the world of their kids. I know this for a fact now. Hehheh! So, is Baby Jesse a beautiful baby? Sometimes, Mae and I cannot stop gushing about how cute our baby looks. But we also tell ourselves, "We're probably just biased!" We probably are. No one's ever told us we have a beautiful baby. Sometimes people come up to us and tell us how cute Jesse is. Cute. Non-offensive. Also non-committal. Brad Pitt is cute. So is Gollum. And apparently, so is Jesse.

Poor kid. He doesn't quite stand a chance against my raging gene pool. But even if he never makes in in the Casting Directors shortlist, to Mae and I, he's the most beautiful thing in the world. And hopefully, that'll be good enough for him.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Utter Math-ness!

Baby is 3 months old now. In weeks, we'll be teaching him maths. Okay, I know how this makes us sound like those insufferable, over-the-top, young yuppie parents we all love to hate. But if the shoe fits... Ugh!

Anyway, according to this book by Glenn & Janet Dorman, kids love to learn maths. Hahhahah! Funny, that's not the way I remembered it! I supposed it had to do with the fact that by the time we went to school, we were already too old to like learning. Now babies, on the other hand, are a natural at learning. And it's not just maths. There's also language. And probably nuclear physics. And which boy doesn't like Biology. Hahhah!

Right now, we're in the midst of preparing flash cards for Baby. He'll have a hundred of them. On it, we'll paste red dots, numbering from 1 to 100. We're supposed to flash him a few cards a day and no longer than 1 second at a time otherwise he'll get bored. Aww man! Apparently, kids see maths as facts as opposed to how we see them - as numerals. Blerh!

I have to admit, I did not learn all this info from the book. Just like the book says, I'm too old to learn anything new. So I leave all that learning and educating to my lovely wife. I, on the other hand, will take care of the fun stuff. Like how to eat a hot dog in under 30 seconds. Or how to built a gas chamber for insects and other little vermin. Or how to check out babes without being noticed. Ehhehhh!

By the way, the book also says that "mother and child make the best learning team". Daddies are just chopped liver. We're also educators of the fun stuff!

Friday, December 3, 2004

Forgiven Tonight

Jesse's doing his bit for Christmas. Here, he's crying his heart out in a rousing portrayal of boy born to a family in turmoil. Heh!

That's actually the ticket to my church's Christmas offering this year. Forgiven is a stage drama produced by DUMC's creative ministry team, Punctuation Production. This time around, we've got another tear-jerker in the vein of those mind-numbing yet strangely-entertaining Hongkie dramas we get on TV! It's a stage and video presentation.

This is happening 3 nights only, at 8:00 - 10:00pm beginning tonight and ending on Sunday. It's open to all and it's free. For details, click here. Ariel's appearing in it as a tortured wife and Chris is directing.

And no, Jesse's won't actually be in the play because we haven't figured out yet how to toggle his volume switch. Hehheh! So this time he's just helping daddy with the design of the stuff - by appearing in the tickets, playbill and promo items. :)

Okay, so I didn't quite get his permission to use his face. So I fully expect him to... erm... return the favour someday. Maybe when I'm all old and craggy, Jesse can use my mugshots to advertise adult diapers or something like that.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

The Itch of Prejudice

Since it was World AIDS Day yesterday, I thought I'd share my little AIDS story. Oh, and in case you're wondering, I am not HIV positive or anything like that. My story is a personal encounter with a HIV positive person. Or something like that.

The year was 1994. It was the time when the world still didn't know much about AIDS. Then again, that could have been just me. Still, despite being fairly ignorant of the disease I knew the basics - you could get AIDS from sexual intercourse or blood transfusion but you won't get from touching. So there!

One day, a scruffy scrawny 30-something guy came up to the office. Being the only male in the office at the time, I attended to him. He spoke good English, "Sir, I'm dying." Whoa! I was flummoxed. It's not everyday that you encounter such a greeting. And so I stood there, my mouth gaping wide as he stood there... erm... dying. "I'm HIV positive," he went on.

I invited him in to listen to his story. And boy, this boy was prepared. He took out letters and documents certifying his condition. He had medical reports, and letters from his doctors and a sad, tragic story. The poor guy had caught the disease in an unfortunate event of donating blood! What could be more sad than that? At the end of his sorry story, I was so overwhelmed that I gave him 50-bucks to help ease his sorrow. Then, as he stood at the door to leave he reached out his hand to shake mine. "Oh shit!" I thought to myself, "What do I do now?"

I reminded myself that I couldn't catch AIDS just by touch and so I took his hand. Part of it was manners, I suppose. But mostly, I did it so that he would feel a little less like an outcast. He's had a shitty day already - he sure as heck didn't need me rubbing it in by avoiding him like the... erm... plague! So I shook his hand. Held it tight and good. And then he left.

As soon as he did, I opened the palm of my right hand and stared at it. And as I did, I felt a tingling sensation at the center of my hand. Shit! And then it started to itch like crazy. I panicked! "Wash the damn hand, fool!" a voice in my head shouted. I ran for the toilet. The itch got worse. It started to spread to my forearm. Then my elbow. I ran into the toilet and I put my whole arm underneath the running tap. I took up a piece of scouring pad, dabbed it with floor cleaner and started scrubbing like a man possessed.

That, my friends, was the itch of prejudice. And prejudice, as we know, is usually a product of fear. It's funny how the mind can play tricks on you when you're afraid. And that's what AIDS victims face everyday - a fearful bunch of people who'd like to scrub them off with floor cleaner. Okay, maybe not quite but you know what I mean.

These days, I tell myself that if I ever come across another HIV positive person I'd react differently. Perhaps with less of my chickenshit reactions. But honestly, like most things, this one's easier said than done. Oh well... I guess those AIDS awareness campaigners have quite a gigantic task ahead of them.

Ten years on, I still see that scrawny fella walking the streets. These days, he's based himself in Kepong. Now, either he's one resilient bugger or one resourceful trickster beggar. Folks tell me it's the latter. *sigh*