The Public Life of a Private Person

23 06 2009

I always thought the word “blog” sounded like the name of a word game popular with teenagers, childish adults who happen to be proficient in the English vocabulary and groups of people who didn’t have to work but rent chalets in the weekends for barbeques, walking around aimlessly in thong slippers and group make-out sessions.

Oh wait. I may be thinking of Boggle.

My dad asked today, “This is one thing I don’t understand; why do people blog? What is so useful about writing a diary about your personal life that you don’t necessarily want people to know on a website for all the world to see? Why are you so stupid?” (Quotation marks make exercising your creative license so much more realistic, but even then, that really was the gist of what I got from him.)

He was speaking in reference to the accident I wrote about in my last entry that, at the time of writing it, I felt I needed to get out of my system, hoping the topic would never resurface in conversations again. So my dad’s last question does have it’s relevance.

You may also like to note the one and only comment from my most ardent one and only biggest fan surfacing a day later at the bottom of that post. She just so happened to be at my family table tonight, raving about my humour in writing and how everyone should go take a read. “The Father’s Day one was so farnee! Pity about the accident.”

3 sets of eyes suddenly turned to me wide-eyed. “What accident? What happened?”

I rolled my eyes and proceeded to perform a badly edited re-run of the chain collision that gave me a week-long bout of misery, shame and embarrassment.

I was subsequently subjected to a whole new round of misery, shame and embarrassment.

“Do you know you’re in debt?”

“Why you waste money on car rental? Where is your sense of priority?”

“Wah lau. Last car some more.”

“You know you could have just borrowed my car.”

“Next time take MRT lah.”

“Why you go and blog about this if you didn’t want us to know?”

“Why you so stupid?”

And so, walking home from the MRT station with my iPhone in my hands and a cigarette in my mouth, I continue with my highly successful habit of being stupid by blogging about things I probably don’t want people to know about.

Why do I blog? I don’t gain anything out of it. I’m providing light entertainment to a grand total of 4 people, all of them in my immediate family. And of my ginormous fanbase, only 1 bothers to comment regularly.And that one faithful reader just happens to be the one that got me into trouble in the first place, conveniently and quietly leaving the table while the free-for-all stares in disbelief and questions about my intelligence level started to fly in my general direction.

I blog because I need an outlet. I write because it’s really the only way I know how to communicate in a true comprehension. I publish because I hope that one day my words will be able to inspire imperfect people with imperfect lives to laugh at themselves, and I wait for the perfect people to like what I say and offer me a job. I speak my mind of my own life because I want my son to read this one day, to know who daddy is, to know what he did, when he did it and how ridiculous life can be even for a 30-year-old man (give or take a few years), and most importantly, that it is perfectly fine to be living an imperfect life.

I have a blog called My Ivory Throne because it’s rhe one place I can really offload shit, and there’s really a lot of shit in here, my shit, my words, my memories, that will remind me of how I survived, teach me how to survive and survive beyond my years (as long as I keep backups).

My dad still thinks it’s stupid though.





Happy Father’s Day

22 06 2009

My first Father’s Day.

I’ve told my wife what I really thought of Father’s Day from my own point of view, particularly after having witnessed what she had to go through giving north to our son. Father’s Day to me was like an afterthought; someone came up with Mother’s Day, and then about a month after celebrating the general awesomeness of motherhood and giving thanks to the pain and hardship of women the world over for bringing up the next generation of leaders, movers and shakers, someone else suddenly sat up and asked, “what about the fathers?”

If you asked me today, “Do you feel like a father?”, I honestly would say no. I mean, given the last 6 months, as opposed to the extra 9 months of labour my wife had to go through, coupled with the last 30 hours of birthing that eventually involved every standard birth procedure (natural, induced, forceps and C-section), I was about as useful as my little toe. And till today, I still feel that way.

Se of you may know I got into a chain collision a week back. No injuries, save for a motorcyclist skidding that turned out to be the cause of the sudden turn of events but was deemed umrelated to the subsequent cars affected. Well, although no one got seriously hurt, the implications weighed heavily on me. For one, I was the last car involved, meaning the car’s insurance would be bearing the brunt of all the other vehicles’ claims. Add to that the fact that it was my father-in-law’s car, not mine, so obviously I’m not a named driver in the policy. Then add to that the fact that I just got my license and am still under probation, and you’ve got yourself a big mess worthy of a teenager’s penchant for trouble.

I’m gonna go out on a limb by saying this whole accident incident has made me doubt my self-worth as a father, a husband and a so-called head of my household. In the current climate, what with my company’s cutbacks and the general downturn in the incomes of those around me, I really couldn’t afford an accident in my current position. Where before that fateful day I felt like I could accomplish a lot, for a week and counting I was put in my place right proper and told to fucking grow up and come back to earth.

My in-laws were nothing but compassionate about my plight and stopped at nothing to help me out with the car repairs, insurance queries, and most of all, breaking the news to my father-in-law. As much as I deeply appreciated them for everything they did, I felt deeply ashamed that I wasn’t doing right by their daughter and sister. And I’m deeply ashamed that thus far I have done more harm than good for my wife and child because of my carelessness.

So do I feel like a father? No.

***

I feel bad for my own dear old dad. In the midst of having to deal with my own problems, my communication with my parents have been getting less and less, with my dad getting the brunt of the neglect.

He hasn’t been doing too well either in the past months. After having to deal with doctors telling him he’s got a heart problem and even showed evidence in his ECG that he’s had a heart attack and stroke before (so mild even he didn’t notice), currentedical results now show that he’s possibly diabetic.

He’s aged a lot in the last 2 years. The tiredness is manifesting in his receding hairline, growing number of wrinkles, his lack of energy and even his mood. The once energetic man with a corny sense of humour and an ability to solve problems in a heartbeat is now a tired old man, prone to impatience and bad temperment and sorely in need of sleep.

And all I could do today was send him a Father’s Day greeting via SMS. Heck of a father I am, and now, heck of a son.

Someone should just fire me from my life, because I’m doing a terrible job of living it.





Your Wedding – The Day You Potentially Start The Rest Of Your Life Wrong

21 06 2009

I never thought I would be blogging in a “Wedding Jitters” topic again, but this one I thought I couldn’t let up, so…

… so I was at this wedding dinner tonight hosted by one of my wife’s closer cousins. I shan’t go into specifics about the goings on, but throughout the course of the dinner I had a number of revelations that I thought I’d share, along with a handful of good advice handed down to me by my own groomsmen and maids-of-honour, one of whom was a wedding planner herself at one stage in her very colourful life.

1. This has to be number one: Always choose your groomsmen and maids-of-honour wisely. You need responsible people who are able to do their jobs, are constantly conscious of the people attending the wedding from the moment bride and groom wake up to the moment AFTER the last guest has left the wedding dinner venue, and most importantly, respect you and your partner for who they are. Your parents might know what you are like, and they might know what your friends are like, but your in-laws, extended relatives and other acquaintances you are inviting to celebrate your special day sure as hell don’t. So when your maids-of-honour run through their morning “bargaining” ritual with the groom by picking on his poor English language skills and subsequently embarrass him in front of a whole ballroom with a video clip of him struggling through an English passage, or when your designated Masters of Ceremony conveniently forget to invite the groom’s VIP table up to the stage for the ritual toasting, or when your groomsmen start putting cigarettes in their mouths and light up in the ballroom of your wedding dinner only just after the last course is served, and they’re sitting only 2 tables away from VIP Table No. 1, not to mention the tables surrounding them that have kids ages 5 and below (including my own son), it says a lot about your social circle, and that (unfortunately) reflects really badly on you, however much of a nice person you may be.

2. Wedding affairs may be the most exhausting to plan and execute, but you need to stick it to the very end with your brightest smile and your best manners. Meet your friends and family and greet them with all sincerity (even the ones you don’t particularly like). Never, ever, miss out on anyone. See them all off at the door when they’re done dining – all of them. Show them a level of respect above and beyond any respect you’ve ever given or received. Because as much as this is your day, it’s not. Wedding days are really a big-ass extravagant announcement to the world you live in that you’re getting married, and the people you invite, whether it be for solemnisation, tea ceremony, lunch, dinner, karaoke or mahjong session, are the people you are doing it for, no matter what people tell you. Face it, the bride will always dream of the perfect white wedding, the groom will always dream of the smallest bills, but based on experience, the wedding day done right is the wedding day done with the people in your lives in mind – not you. You want to do something for yourselves, you got the rest of your lives to go sort it out (starting with your honeymoon; now that is where your married life really begins). Your wedding day goes to your guests (who are, by the way, the same people you are trying to get to pay for the whole thing anyway, so do right by your sponsors).

3. Choose your venues carefully. If you’re cost-conscious, going for a cheaper restaurant is all fine and dandy, but you got to at least make sure service standards and venue facilities are up to par with the standard expectations. People can forgive the leaking ceiling in the lift lobby, or the dingy car park with a post-dinner car queue extending 3 basement storeys because there’s only one single-lane exit point. But banquet staff who don’t bring you your drink after 4 consecutive requests, or usurp your personal space to serve food without so much as a glance or an “excuse me”, or try to clear your dish before you even touched the food on it just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Look at it this way; the two of you are getting married because you’re committing your heart and soul into your relationship for the rest of your lives. Shouldn’t the people you’re engaging to help you on your wedding day at least put in their heart and soul, just for this one day, to making your wedding go right?

4. You have to play politics. As much as you don’t like it, politics plays a big part in this kind of event. I haven’t met a couple whose extended family doesn’t have a grouchy uncle or a troublemaker cousin or a bitchy grandauntie twice removed or any other kind of colourful character that seeks to make life interesting. That being said, you still got to invite them all for the sake of common courtesy and prevention of wagging tongues. I personally found myself receiving RSVPs from my more complicated relations, including people I thought were long estranged from my mother and had problems with my dad, but careful planning of seating arrangements and an unorthodox programme involving a trishaw and 1930’s Shanghai music ensured the enmities were kept to a minimum and the old folk were suitably distracted to forget about family warmongering for just that one night. In fact, it actually got my family closer to my mother’s estranged side, who invited us to another grand dinner event in order to try to patch things up.

5. Think through the red packets you’re giving out carefully. When you involve your friends and family in the groomsmen/maids-of-honour/flower girls/ring-bearers/drivers/door-openers/runners/odd-job labourers, this is the one time you have to communicate their worth in monetary value directly to them, so you can’t afford to be stingy, and you got to give it to anyone and everyone who’s helped you, however small the job; it’s not only customary, it’s expected of you. I made the mistake of asking my mother to help me divvy up the red packets I was to give out, and she ended up giving a paltry amount to my brother-in-law (who was my driver), who subsequently never looked at me the same way again. And let’s not forget the third-party providers that are actually billing you for their services (your matchmaker lady, photographer/videographer, restaurant manager, etc.). Wedding events for them are pretty much the only time they can earn tips in Singapore, so you gotta indulge them too.

Having said this, I am in no way a wedding expert, nor do I claim this to be an exhaustive list (although after writing this over the span of one late night and a morning, it is exhausting), but I have seen and heard enough from people at my own wedding and others to know some of the things where people get things right or where things can go wrong without you knowing. Feel free to add on your experiences in the comments. I will add points in this post when I see good points being made.





Such a Fascinating Creature, This Bird

18 06 2009

I’ve been stuck on Twitter the last couple of days. Though I did register yonks before, and have a rudimentary understanding of how it came to be one of the hottest (and most inane) cultural phenomenons of this digital age, it didn’t hit me how useful it really could be until I decided to run It to find out when the iPhone OS update would be rolled out.

Yes, I have an Apple product. No, I am not a fanboy (I still very much love my Asus behemoth laptop running 64-bit Windows 7). let’s move on.

Forgive my lateness in entering the world of instant 140-character, to-the-second news updates. The biggest reason why I avoided using Twitter so long was only because of 2 main reasons; firstly, that I have a tendency to write long passages of pseudo-witty soliloquoys to no one in particular (as may be attested from the bulk of my blog entries), and secondly, I could not fathom an afternoon of updating myself with what some of my friends might consider activities that would interest the Internet world (tweeting “I’m at work” only serves to inform your employer that you are indeed worth your month’s salary, but if you’re a copywriter, it only gives the company more incentive to hand you the pink slip, doesn’t it?)

But in the interests of tracking when the hell Apple will allow me to start using MMS and type with my fingers more fluidly via a landscape keyboard on my severely overpriced, over-hyped, wonderfully intuitive communication device, I decided to run Twitter to see whether anyone else was wondering the same thing and if anyone knew any better.

As it turns out, tens of thousands of people were wondering the same thing (tweets ranged from querying, “Is it out yet?” to pleading, “Please, Apple, please…” to swearing “Why isn’t it f&$@ing out yet?!” to relenting, “Ah f&$@ it, I’m going to bed.”)

In the course of all this ruckus, the keywords iPhone, OS 3, and Singapore hit the top 10 trending topics on Twitter (Singapore having made the list because some twit posted a link on the iPhone OS release date from the singapore website, which caused a big hooha because everyone thought the US side pushed back the release date based on what they saw; cue a few hundred people who knew better furiously tweeting “No, that’s the Singapore site. It’s Singapore… no, Singapore, … Singapore lah!”).

I found the whole discourse utterly amusing, and in the span of 24 hours, I’ve managed to tweet more updates than I have posts on this blog, not to mention add follows to 25 people, 21 of whom I’ve never met, and get followed by another 20 or so people, 8 or 9 of whom keep wanting to show me their naked photos.

I must say, though, Twitter as a growing social networking application certainly deserves a more thorough looking into. As a means to getting a good feel on the biggest topics on the common man’s mind, as a volatile marketing tool, or as a place to get recognized at your workplace as being hard at work without even trying too hard, I’d say there’s a lot more I have to learn about how the world works, and I won’t be surprised if the lessons come in 140-character blurbs.

(By the way, I wrote all this on my post-update iPhone. My thumbs are now ready for competitive texting.)