Thursday, March 31, 2005

All Shook Up

Tuesday was a helluva day.

At 2am, Jesse woke up crying for his feed. Elsewhere, Malaysians everywhere we feeling the aftershocks of the earthquake in Sumatra. But here in our apartment block, the most earth-shattering event was Jesse's wailing. Otherwise, it was an uneventful night. After Jesse's feed, I tried to get back to sleep. I was about to doze off when, suddenly, I felt a tightness across my chest.

"Shit!" I thought. "I'm having a heart attack!!!" And suddenly, all kinds of thoughts filled my head. I remembered KC's blog on heart attacks. I remembered Gina's mail about her boss' 34-year-old friend who died of a cardiac arrest over the weekend. I remembered I had just turned 34. And feelings of "impending doom" consumed me.

In my youth, I would have stared death in the face and laughed. But that day, I was chickenshit. I was mortified. I was mortified, not so much at the thought of meeting my maker, but at the thought that my son might have to grow up without his father. And for the first time in my life, I was afraid to die.

That's when I realised how much I had changed. Had the same thing happened 5 years ago, I would have just thumped my chest a couple of times, downed a can of cold beer and go back to bed. But that day, I prayed for my life.

The very next day, I went for an ECG. Then I saw a heart specialist. Today, I got a complete medical check-up (which is worthy of a blog-entry of its own!). Perhaps I'm over-reacting a little, but the event on that Tuesday morning made me realise that staying alive is the least I can do for Jesse and Mae. And as the world was shaken by the earthquake in Indonesia, I was a little more than rattled by my little episode. How's that for perspective?

I did not wake Mae that night. One more symptom and I might have. Instead, I prayed. "Dear Lord, please spare me," I whispered to the Big Guy in the sky. "Let me watch my son grow up," and in case Mae was listening I added, "... and my wife grow old." Dying or not, I was always quick with the good saves. *ahem*

Incidentally, it wasn't a cardiac arrest. The doctors (there's been three so far) are convinced that my heart is fine. They are, however, also unanimous in their opinion that I need to haul my lazy ass off to a gym. *sigh* Anyway, results of today's check up come out in 10 days. I'll be keeping them fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Bathing in Taiping

splish-splash we're takin' a bath

Taiping is one of those quaint little towns where things happen at a leisurely pace. It has the charms of the days of old and enough commercialism to keep city folk from missing home too much. There amidst the tin-smith (Taiping was a tin-mining town in it's heyday) and rattan-maker shops you'll find a McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC and even Popular Bookstore.

We got home at 10am on Saturday, so naturally breakfast was on the top of our priority (in fact, eating tops my priority in most any occasion - Heh!). After breakfast, we decided to get Jesse a bathtub since we didn't bring one from KL. And lo and behold, a couple of shops away from Kaka's famous Taiping Shredded Chicken Noodles was a tin-smith.

"We should get Jesse one of those old-fashioned tin buckets," I told Mae. I was thinking "photo opportunity". And in my mind I was already framing up the shot. Baby in tin tub. Huge earthen water jar in background. Moss encrusted walls. Young mother in wet t-shirt. Hehheh!!! Sorry folks, you'll never get to see that last scenario.

Anyway, all in all, it was a fun trip. Jesse was a good boy most of the way home. He slept half the way, sat quietly for the next quarter and whined for the rest of the ride. Of course coming home was another story altogether. But still, we're thankful that we made the trip.

More of Taiping to come. Stay tuned. :)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Taiping, Here We Come!

It's 5:20am. In half an hour, Jesse will be on his first trip to Taiping.

Our strategy is simple. Jesse usually wakes up at 7:30am - 8:00am. Leaving at 6:0am should give us a couple of hours of peaceful journey home. If all goes well, he'd be fast asleep in his car seat and we should be able to make it home safely and stress-free, and just in time for a nice Taiping Shredded Chicken Noodle breakfast. :) Yes, it's all about eating.

Hopefully our strategy pays off. In any case, it should be a pretty interesting trip. Details when we return.

And oh, pray for us. We'll need it. *ahaks*

Thursday, March 24, 2005


eat me!

Having Jesse has been educational. Suddenly, Mae and I are learning things we never knew and picking up skills we never had. One of the things new parents learn is how to eat with just one hand. :)

In the early days, when Jesse was asleep more than he was awake, we'd time our dinner outings. The moment the boy dozes off, we'd shoot off to the nearest eatery faster than you can say, "A-Quarter-Pounder-with-Cheese-and-Yes-We'll-Have-the-Bloody-Fries-with-That". But for some strange reason, the little rascal had a knack of waking up at that very precise moment our order arrives. Food arrives. Baby cries. Like clockwork. Mae and I had to take turns with our dinner. Something had to be done.

And so, leaving behind our worldly possessions, we traversed the plains of old China to the Shaolin Monastery where we sought the tutelage of an old Shaolin sage. "Oh venerable Sifu, impart upon us the art of the Secret One-Armed Hungry Crane Kungfu," we begged. "Teach us how we may defend ourselves from mortal hunger... erm... and cold dinners!"

And thus Mae and I returned, equipped with ancient kungfu of holding Baby in one arm while the other arm manipulated the eating utensils. We had gotten so good we could even go thru an elaborate 8-course Chinese dinner using just a pair of chopsticks. Or an entire chicken chop meal with just a fork. Of course, along the way, we also threw etiquette and our table-manners out the window.

Thankfully, things have gotten better. Jesse has been able to sit up for awhile now. These days we just plop him in a baby chair, toss him a plastic spoon or something equally entertaining, and we may proceed with dinner uninterrupted. Well, almost uninterrupted.

And so the Secret One-Armed Hungry Crane Kungfu has finally seen the last of its day as its warriors retire to a quiet, civilised adult dinner. But it shall return when the appetite of mankind is once again threatened. *ahem* That is, when we decide to make a little playmate for Jesse. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Dressed To Kill

On Sunday, our church celebrated it's 25th anniversary. Being the silver jubilee, we were pretty much asked to dress up. Which was probably a good idea since most of us church folks are so simple that we're bordering on sloppy. I speak for myself of course, since Mae is fair too vain to be sloppy.

Anyway the dresscode was formal. Mae was dressed to kill. So was I, though in an entirely different way.

Mae had on a short little black cheongsam. Me, I wore a cheap black polyester suit which I had bought many, many years ago. To make sure I got the full slimming effect (God knows I need it), I opted for a black shirt and a gaudy gold tie (Okay, so it's the only one I have that hasn't gone out of fashion entirely). And for that extra cool, I left the suit jacket buttons open.

Okay! Okay! So the damn jacket's getting a little too small for me. The last time I wore it was during our wedding. Back then it fit me just fine, with all the appropriate slack in all the right places. This time, however, if I buttoned up I'd look like an overweight buffalo with bad polyester skin.

Sometimes I pity Mae. She married this tall, dark and handsome young man Okay, so maybe not tall and handsome but I was a whole lot slimmer then and probably more pleasantless repulsive to the eye. These days, she wakes up with an overgrown hippo with a bad haircut. I've put on so much weight I even disgust myself sometimes. And I guess subconsciously, I started depriving myself of stuff - like a new wardrobe. Which explains the gaudy gold tie from 6 seasons back!

I have to do something. But you know what they say: The spirit is willing but the flesh is too damn massive to get moving. I better drag my ass to a gym while I can still fit in their front door. Here's hoping.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Really Caught In The Act

On Friday I channel-surfed into "Really Caught in The Act" on Astro. In one particularly riveting segment, we were shown the footage off one of those Nanny Cams installed at home.

This family had left their young child, probably 8 - 10 months old, under the charge of a 40-something year old nanny. And while daddy and mommy were out, ol' nanny turned into a mega bitch!

Babies are never easy to deal with. I do get frustrated with Jesse sometimes. On his bad days he'll just cry and cry and there isn't anything in the world you can do to pacify him. Sometimes, I find myself thinking, "Stop crying, you little shit!" Sometimes, I think out loud. And then I remind myself that I, too, was once a little shit myself.

Babies cry. It's the only way they communicate. That's the way Jesse communicates. If he's especially difficult, you can spank him on his buttocks. You can even smack him on the palm of his hand. And you can scold him. But if anyone ever took out their anger on him violently, they will encounter my wrath.

In one snippet from the program, the nanny shook the baby violently when the child refused to stop crying. In another, the nanny rapped the poor kid's tiny fingers with a remote control. But the worst of all was when she threw the baby on to the floor. I was filled with murderous rage from what I saw. If anyone ever did that to my son, or any other child for that matter, I don't think I'd be able to show any restraint. Mae made me promise to never kill anyone. I pray that I never, ever feel the need to.

Some people think babies and kids are annoying little shits. We'll, they're not. At least not deliberately. And at least not for a few years. Shittiness seeps in when you're growing up and is most definitive when you've reached adulthood. And yes, hating kids is a form of shittiness if not the most vile. You don't have to love kids, but if you dislike them then there's something very wrong with you.

Don't argue with me on this. Not unless you were born an adult.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Jesse Of The Pigs

Sometimes when Jesse gets a little difficult, which can be quite often given his headstrong personality, I tell Mae we should just throw him away into the forest where he will be brought up by a herd of pigs. Hahhah!

It's like a Tarzan story minus the apes.

While Tarzan of The Apes can swing from tree to tree, Jesse of The Pigs will be content just wallowing in the mud and making a mess of himself. And while Tarzan pounds his chest and shouts, "Kreeg-ah Bundolo!", Jesse will just scurry around going "Oink, Oink!"

While we're on the subject, writer Edgar Rice Burroughs must have been on drugs or something. Why on earth would Tarzan shout, "Kreeg-ah Bundolo" anyway? Apes obviously don't say that, so where would he have learnt it from? Incidentally the words mean, "Beware, kill". What about the rest of his vocabulary? What would Tarzan say if he was feeling a little constipated? And what curses would he shout if he snagged his loincloth on an elephant tusk?

Mae hates it when I call our son Jesse of The Pigs. "Stop calling him that," she'd say. Yet whenever I tell her a Jesse of The Pigs story, she'd roll on the floor, laughing her butt off. Heh! Still, I doubt if Disney will be rushing to make this into an animated feature.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Fantastic Frog Legs Porridge

here lies Jeremiah

Last Friday, Mae and I made our way to downtown KL for Frog Legs Porridge. With Jesse in tow, of course. Since my Valentine's plan has sort of evolved into a belated birthday celebration for yours truly, it would seem wrong to exclude the boy! "Daddy celebrated his birthday and I was not invited!" Poor kid will need therapy for a long time.

Anyway, Frog Porridge in Jalan Alor is possibly the finest in the Klang Valley - perhaps due to the fact that not too many places sell the stuff. Situated towards the end of the road on right hand side, right next to 21st Century Internet Cafe, the place is a little nondescript so watch out for it. This time, we sat out on the five-foot way under a huge Acacia tree for a little alfresco dining. Heh! You can actually sit inside the shop but it's a furnace there. Couples with the steaming hot Frog Porridge, you'll melt in the heat.

This place serves frog in two different styles. You can order Frog Porridge, where the frog legs are cooked INTO a rice porridge. Or you could order Kungpao Frog and a Plain Rice Porridge separately. Or you could lose all inhibitions and take the Frog Porridge WITH the Kungpao Frog! We go for option 2 because I can never resist the Kungpao Gravy.

Most establishments that serve Kungpao Frog Legs usually cook the stuff in black sauce, dried chillies and cashew nuts. This place does away with the frills and gives you your frog legs in a thick, starchy, oyster-based sauce with ass-burning Cili Padi. Woooo!!! The result is a tasty, rich sauce to go with their succulent, tender frog legs. The porridge is seasoned with Sesame See Oil for an extra Umph! Great stuff. Prices are not to bad too although, for the life of me, I can't seem to remember how much we paid for the food.

Another specialty here is their Deep-Fried Spring Chicken. Unfortunately, they had sold out that day. Still the meal was great and if you're ever in the neighbourhood, do give it a try.

Monday, March 14, 2005


Parenthood has changed my perspective. If you've ever viewed the world with rose-tinted glasses, when you become a parent you'll be viewing them through shit-stained diapers.

These days Jesse can really kick up a storm when you attempt to change him. And when he's had a long call, you can be assured it's gonna be a shitstorm. The little guy is pretty strong despite his minute stature. So when he's had an accident in his diaper, the shit can really hit the fan - sometimes even literally!! So as far as Mae is concerned, it's a dirty job and Daddy's gonna have to do it. "I gave birth to him, you can wipe his ass!"

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on whether you're the father or the mother) when we're out shopping, we find that most places have a diaper room incorporated into the ladies toilet, if at all. Which pretty much means that Mommy's gonna have to get down and dirty. Heh! Personally, despite the occasional feeling of relief (pun not intended), I tend to find this a little chauvinistic on the part of the shopping mall's management people. This is where my new perspective comes in. *ahem*

So, what's the message here? Are we supposed to just accept that changing diapers is a woman's job? What next? Should we ban women from shopping malls altogether so they can go back to the kitchen where they belong?

Now Ikea is different. In the Gents you'll find this nifty little folded apparatus attached to the wall. Unfold it and viola, instant changing table! Apart from designing such a cool gadget, Ikea must be lauded for their attitude. In this world, attitude is everything. Is it any wonder why Ikea is one of the biggest corporations in the world?

For the rest of you Juscos and Giants out there, take a lesson from Ikea. You can wipe a little shit and still make it in the world. C'mon now, us daddies have a job to do, even if it's a dirty job.

That Music Meme

Buaya69 sticked me with this. So, here goes:

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?

I listen to all kinds of stuff which attributes to the 5.1GB and 1,377 songs on my PC. From Elvis to Eminem, from the Righteous Brothers to the Allman Brothers to the Doobie Brothers to the Isley Brothers, from U2, US3 to UB40, from Hot Chocolate to Coldplay, from Fastball to good ol' slowhand, from Glass Tiger to White Lion, from Bach to Beck, from Bread to Cake. I've got Prince, I've got Queen and I've got Kings, Gypsy Kings that is. I've got Byrds, Eagles, Penguins and Crows - of the Counting variety. I've got the men - Baha Men, Men At Work and Men Without Hats. And I've got Four Aces, Seasons, Tops and Non-Blondes. From Boy George to George Michael to Michael Jackson to Jackson Browne. From the Idea of North to the Beautiful South. I've got Pink, I've got Blue (don't ask), I've got Green Day, I've got Deep Purple, I've got Whitesnake and I've got Black Eyed Peas. And yes, Buaya, I have plenty of Nursery Rhymes too!

2. The CD you last bought?

These days, almost everything we buy we buy for Baby. Our last CD would be Baby Loves Hymns - which I gotta say is one worthwhile investment since Jesse seems to like it. Besides, it's a kiddie CD that doesn't sound cheesy or annoying!It was either that or some other Nursery Rhyme CD.

3. What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?

"You Will Be My Ain True Love" by Alison Krauss which is a track from Cold Mountain, a movie I never saw. The song is a haunting Irish melody that kinda grows on you. :)

4. Write down five songs that you often listen to or that means a lot to you

"Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House, though I also like to play the version by Sixpence None The Richer.

"Drift Away" by the Doobie Brothers.

"As The Deer" by Acoustic Worship which gives a nice unplugged makeover for this wonderful hymn.

"Warisan Wanita Terakhir" by Teacher's Pet, simply because it's a damn good song.

"Where Do I Begin" by Shirley Bassey featuring the AwayTEAM Mix. Mae and I made our grand entrance to this tune during our wedding reception. It would be the song that would epitomise the kind of people that we were. Most people just thought we were nuts. :)

5. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

Gina gets it cos I think she listens to soppy stuff. AhPink also gets it just because she's a new kid (*ahem*) on the blog! And finally, hasn't anybody ever wondered what kind of music a serious guy like Jeff Ooi listens to? Other than Scorpions, of course. And does he even have time for trivial stuff like this? :) And will he even stumble upon this blog?

We'll let's see what happens.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Game On!

Lookie what I found. Heh! Back in my day, this was the flavour of the month. Back then, we didn't have Playstation or XBox. We played all our games in the video arcades at 20sen a pop. Growing up in the 70s, we developed our hand-to-eye coordination on Pacman, Space Invaders, Boot Hill and that old west game with the holographic cowboy.

Sorry, you will need the <a href="" target="_blank">Flash Player</a> to play PacMan.

Yup, our games were pretty simple back then. And even so, I sucked at it. Which probably explains why I still don't have a game box at home. But I suppose I'd have to think about getting one soon, seeing as to how Jesse's gonna need a complete... erm... education. *ahem* I'll probably have to get one soon if I'm gonna get a headstart. Kids tend to get very good at gaming and I'm not about to let any kid cream my ass, even if he's my own kid. Heh!

In the meantime, I think I'll practice on good ol' Pacman!

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

A Hard Day's Night

Today is one of the toughest days in recent memory. Mae is down and out with something - probably the flu, and I'm left to hold the fort. I do all the night feeds. I wash all the bottles. I wash the kid. I wipe his ass. I dress him. Thankfully, Mae's mom agrees to take Jesse for the day. That gives Mae a little peace and quiet to recuperate and I needn't have to take a day off.

Work was crazy. Deadlines. Meetings. Decisions. And I was fighting to keep awake all day long.

Lunch was dismal. To console myself, I bought a little dessert in the form of Penang-style Rojak Buah with extra Keropok. Didn't help one bit. In fact it only managed to cheese me off further. Heh! Boggles the mind how anyone can screw-up Rojak Buah! *sigh*

After work, I had to pick up Jesse through some pretty bad traffic. I get home at half past eight. Bo Bice had already done his thing. I get Mae dinner and it smells heavenly. Unfortunately, I didn't get enough for myself. And so I end up eating instant noodles.

Fortunately it wasn't all bad. Mamee Super Shiok Mi Rebus was pretty good. American Idol had a re-run at 11:30pm. And most importantly, the kid was an angel this morning.

"Son, it's just you and me today so go easy on Daddy, okay?" He understands. This morning he sat in his car seat and never made so much as a peep. To further demonstrate his compassion towards his poor daddy, he even falls asleep along the way.Hallelujah!!!

Thank God for small miracles. Good sleep tonight would be considered a miracle. Here's hoping...

Monday, March 7, 2005

Ticket To Ride

who's gonna drive you home?

A couple of weeks back, when Jesse turned 6 months, Mae and I decided the boy was old enough to get his first set of wheels. And so we went hunting for a walker.

Jesse had begun crawling lately. And just as Buaya69 said, he very quickly progressed to standing up now holding himself up with anything and everything. We figured he would find a walker most entertaining, given his newfound passion for exploration and adventure! Besides, a walker could also get him out of our hair for awhile, we thought. Heh!

Since Jesse has demonstrated himself to be a bit of a picky little kid of late, we decided that it was best that we brought him along walker-shopping. And so, on a fine Saturday afternoon, we took Jesse out to test-drive his new ride. And right there at Jusco's kiddies' department, Jesse went from walker to walker.

"Pick the cheap one, son," I whispered in his ear, making sure it sounded like some mystical subliminal message. "Cheap is good!". Walkers were ranging from RM 59.00 to RM 169.90 and to be honest, I'm sure they're all the same to kids. But Jesse had other ideas. He had set his sights on the little brown walker - the one with the Winnie the Pooh knock-off. And no matter which walker we put him in, he kept turning towards Fake Winnie Walker. And even when we picked him up off the walker, he stretch his arms towards it desperately trying to reach for it.

"Your son's got expensive taste," Mae said. But I knew he didn't get his expensive taste from this parent. *ahem* I'm glad we didn't take him to some really expensive place. Anyway, we brought the damn walker home and it entertained him for all of 15 minutes!!! 15 minutes!!! RM 169.90. *sigh*

Fortunately, today he seemed to have finally gotten the hang of having a walker. He was laughing away, amused by the fact that he could now go places, speed down Mommy's hallway and pick up chicks. Finally, a ticket to ride.

Friday, March 4, 2005

Little Man of Steel

I always worry that I have a wussy kid. Not that there's anything wrong with a wuss, just that you can't roughhouse with the little guy when you want to. I mean, daddies are supposed to play WWE or Kungfu with their little boys but how can you BodySlam a fragile little boy? And so I worry.

Yesterday we took Jesse in for a jab. It's one of those anti-polio, anti-hepatitis, anti-everything-or-something injections that a 6-month old needs. "This one's gonna sting," doc tells us grimly. Apparently, during an injection, it's not that needle that hurts you. It's the drug. Jesse, in the meantime was having a ball at the clinic, oblivious to his impending fate.

I lay the boy down on his belly on the doctor's examination table and he was still smiling away. "No, you better hug him close to you," doc advised emphasising once again the pain that would ensue. I hug Jesse close to me. Mae in the meantime cowered behind me not wanting to witness her son in pain. And then, doc administered the injection.

"WauuggghhhhHHH!!!!" Jesse screamed at the top of his lungs as the medicine passed from the syringe to his tender little tush. I held him tight as doc quickly massage the target area. He cried and cried. And suddenly, he stopped. Just like that. And everything was back to normal.

"You got a tough boy there," doc was amazed. "They usually cry all the way home." Nope. Not my boy. Not my tough-as-nails, take-no-prisoners little man of steel. And at that very moment, I was the proudest daddy on the planet.

Jesse's next injection happens when he turns one. Bring it on, baby! :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

A MyKid for My Kid

writings on the wall

Six months ago when Jesse was born (yes, it's been 6 months now) the midwife gave us a rundown on birth registration procedures. "You have 30 days to do it, otherwise you'll have to pay a fine," she advised. Given my penchant for procrastinating, I made a mental note to do it soon after Mae and Jesse checks out of the hospital.

Yesterday, after half a year, I finally bring home Jesse's identity card. So much for not procrastinating. Thankfully the NRD didn't decide to repossess my son! Wahahaha. Still, it wasn't entirely my fault.

30 days after he was born, I did register Jesse. It was a difficult time for us - picking out a name for him, that is. We had decided on Jesse long before but his Chinese name was a dilemma for us. We had a problem finding his ancestral name. So while my family scoured the plains of China (sort of, hehehh!) in search of our roots, friends and family gave is their suggestions for Baby's last name. Chinese names are usually a combination of 3 characters - Surname, Ancestral Name and Given Name. Since Mae and I can't read nor write Chinese to save our lives, we had to rely on others. But by the time we had a list of nice last names, we had a new dilemma. My aunt had traced our ancestral name and it sounded weird combined with the last names on our list. To make matters worse, the 30 days were drawing close. In the end, we registered a fairly neutral name. Jesse Tan Zhe Yao. Incidentally, Jesse shares the same middle name as Chairman Mao!

Anyway, the name was ho-hum. It was safe. But it was also boring. "Our boy deserves a good name," I told Mae. I was heartbroken. I wasn't sleeping and I wasn't eating. Okay, okay, I was eating!!! But I was also eating myself up over the overly-ordinary name I had given my son.

Weeks later, thanks to Mae's sis, we realised that Jesse's name would subject him to a life of mockery. Zhe Yao sounded a little too much like Si Yao, which is Cantonese for Soy Sauce. Heh! Worse, it also sounded like Chu Yao which basically means Pork Fat. No son of mine was gonna be called Pork Fat! Not if I could help it. And so I logged into the NRD's website and discovered that it was possible to change Baby's name, as long as he hadn't reached 1-year-old. Hot dog!!

Yesterday, I brought home Jesse's MyKid (is that a cool name for an ID or what?) with his new name. No, I have decided not to publish his full name here but if you can read Chinese, then the picture above is his new name. The first character is our surname. The second, his ancestral name, means Beneficence. His given name means River.

I present to you Jesse Tan, River of Beneficence.

Whatever that means. :)