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.





The Bane of Being An Insurance Salesman

2 03 2009

I grew up believing there are some careers you simply do not set foot into, if not for anything, then for not looking like an ass in front of your customers; real estate, car sales, large electronics store sales and insurance. The common trait between all these? They’re careers in sales, they’re driven on commission, and they hardsell like a baseball bat shoved up your you-know-where.

Subsequently I’ve gotten more mature in my beliefs and how they apply in the real world, and even met some salespeople in these industries that actually seemed honest. But there remains a sliver of doubt that has constantly kept me away from the salesman profession in general most of my life.

My sister has a friend in insurance whom I spoke to last year after my wife and I were i the midst of introducing number three into our world of two. For the first time in my life, I thought I found a insurance salesperson I could honestly call “honest”. He pulled no punches, seemed straightforward enough wiht what he was selling, and spoke genuinely and sincerely for his customers’ wellbeing. My sisters already have him as their regular guy, and quite a number of times they tossed me the idea of getting me an insurance policy via him. So we spoke, but for a small glitch in what was supposed to be a cut-and-dry life policy sale (higher premiums due to my health score), I had to turn down his efforts.

Since Xander came out though, he’s been keeping in touch, more so in the past few days, to the point where I am making a conscious effort not to turn him down in a rude fashion. At the turn of the year, after seeing things turning for the worse, what with the credit crisis in America affecting the whole world and a projected shrinking economy (-8%?!) in Singapore, I can understand how hard it’s going to be for someone in his profession. But hardsell tactics are the precise reason why I didn’t become a salesman in the first place, and hardsell tactics are the reason why I keep a mental blacklist of all the places to avoid when shopping for anything.

I was text-messaged 4 times over the last 3 days by said insurance guy to discuss a hospitalization plan for my son, which would involve no hard cash whatsoever, just an annual deduction of a small amount from my CPF account. If not for the fact that last year my wife had visited the hospital twice (once for a surgery and once for the birth of our son), coupled with how badly my own finances were stacking up against me, I would have met up. But money is tight for everyone everywhere, and even if it was something I didn’t have to buy with dispensable cash, I’m still being very conscious of what I sign up for.

I will admit that insurance is an important thing, but when you force the issue of selling some to me, I’m not inclined to entertain any of your schtick, nice guy or not. Especially when I’ve kindly given subtle enough hints, like “now’s not a good time” or “better if we talk when times get better”, take it that now’s not a good time and that it would be better if we talk when times get better.

I would like to say I know what these commissioned-based salespeople are going through; I’m working every day and making every dollar count to manage my own little credit crisis. But honestly, I opted out of the life of a commissioned-based salary because when times are hard, it really shows in your bank account when your daily work shows directly in your paycheck, and no matter how glib you are, no matter how soild your sales pitch is, some days people just don’t want to buy anything. Commissioned-based industries really do reflect the old adage (albeit through a different context), “When times are good, everybody’s a friend, but when times are bad…”. The big difference between applying that adage in an occupation and applying it in social context is that socially, there ais still room for acts of kindness, but in a ceteris paribus environment such as your job, the only thing that matters is dollars and sense.

It’s going to be a hard year, my policy-toting friend. Wishing you good luck, is, unfortunately, all I can afford.





Where The Hell Have I Been?!

3 12 2008

I do need to apologise for the lack of posting. For starters, I’ve been sorting some stuff out at home, slowly preparing for Xander’s arrival.

For those of you who have been to our house over the past year, you may have noticed a room somewhat filled up with unpacked boxes which we originally slated to be our guest room. Well, it’s Xander’s room now, and we’re just beginning to clear the stuff out to redecorate and furnish.

Speaking of which, one night I decided to reorganise our personal belongings in the storeroom and this is what happened:

Our bag collection
I bagged the living room floor.

The best part is, about 6 or 7 of those bags are my wife’s, the rest are mine. The WHOLE whopping rest of it. I had to throw some out, and even then I’m still left with a fat lot of them.

The packing continues… we’re having a gift baby cot from one of our colleagues sent to us by the end of the week. It’s all starting to come together, amazingly.

And then to add to the late night packing, my beta test program for my company e-commerce website has started, and frankly, I don’t know where to start. People have already begun writing in to join as testers, and I seem to be the only one who’s managing the whole operation at present. That and the fact that I’m getting bushwhacked (sorry Mark) with a hundred things in the office that apparently only I can do.

So again, my sincere apologies for disappearing for such a long time. I’ll try to come back more regularly, but as one of my friends who has just recently been introduced into fatherhood continuously warns me, it’s gonna get less possible by the day.





Fight Night

4 09 2008

I have a wife who is smart, has a great sense of humour, is always on top of things when it comes to important stuff, and is always behind me when I need her the most.

You may have figured out by now that I got into troube with the missus. And you would be right. We haven’t spoken in 2 days.

But instead of going on a tirade of whys and woes, I’m opting not to talk about the issue that started it all in the first place, only how I’ve been coping with it all.

I feel terrible.

Cold wars are like cold turkey to me. Times like this make me realise how dependent on my wife I am. The sharing, the hugging, the baby talk before the baby’s even come out, the laughter and the jokes,… cold wars mean I don’t get any of the warmth a loving couple shares.

Cold wars also mean hours, days, or even weeks of feeling insecure. Because that’s basically why it’s called a cold war. It leaves you in the cold, with nothing. Nothing that will reassure you that everything will be okay. Nothing that will allow you the luxury of knowing the person you love loves you back.

I don’t deal with this kind of thing well at all. I never have. Instead, I end up making things worse, because nobody ever taught me how to make things right. And so, much like Thailand right now, my life is in a state of emergency, and like incumbent Prime Minister Samak, I don’t quite know how to proceed from here.

The biggest problem we have, I suppose, is an inability to come to a compromise when it comes to handling arguments. She prefers to be left alone; I prefer to talk. She needs time to calm down; I need a solution. She needs space; I need reassurance. And you know what? Nobody’s right, and nobody’s wrong.

I have no doubt we are both happy with each other when we are both happy together. I get unhappy only when she gets angry, and particularly when gets angry with me. I lose all my faculties; I even lose feeling in my limbs, I find myself breathing shallowly, and I get lost in the void of my own mind when she is no longer in the mood to be happy with me, when she no longer wants to share her space with me. I get scared, to put it simply. I get scared that I will lose the one person I love most, because I am afraid that she has stopped loving me.

The worst thing is, it’s her birthday today, and I don’t know what to do. Even if I did, would she reciprocate? I don’t know anything.

I love my wife very much. I just wish I knew what she is thinking right now.





Living In Fear Of My Wife

20 08 2008

In my 30 years of life experiencing the paradigm shift of society’s progress in dealing with the gender issue, as well as hearing from friends of their experiences in dealing with the gender issue, I have come to one definite conclusion; that for the most part of this day and age we live in, being a man totally sucks.

I say this based on some stories I have heard, as well as my own recent venture in married life. A friend of mine once related to me how he was in a hospital delivery room bearing witness to the beautiful event of his wife giving birth to their son, only to have his deepest impression of that day be the look of utter hatred he received from his wife as she struggled to squeeze the little tike from herself, seemingly to say to her husband, “What the fuck have you gotten me into? …your stupid bright idea to have a kid – AAAAAUUUUUUUGH!”

Another of my friends, while not in the throes of such marital bliss yet, is contemplating singlehood suicide soon. The problems he’s had to deal with are wide-ranging and far-reaching; from deciding which church to marry them with, to dealing with marriage counselling sessions that sound more like assisted breakup sessions, to realising a few weeks ago that he never thought to ask if the woman he was about to marry actually liked him.

And while he’s been sorting his issues out on his camp, I’ve had to sort out some issues of my own. My lovely wife has recently been in dispute with me over turning off the TV and fan when she went to the shower and I went to bed, while leaving her computer and living room light on.

And I hear a slight “huh?” Don’t worry, it gets complicated.

My idea was that she didn’t have the habit of sleeping early (it was about 11pm), so I decided no one was going to be in the room while she showered and I was going to sleep, so save a bit of electricity and she can turn everything back on when she came out. Her interpretation of that idea was that I was a selfish bastard for turning off the TV and fan without helping her turn off the laptop and light, and not even considering that she couldn’t go to sleep that night because she was having tummy pains and I never even thought to help her massage the pain away when she was complaining about it all day, selfish bastard.

Of course, both our arguments have merits. I was looking out for our utilities bill for 10 minutes, and she was wondering if she was going to have to suffer her labour pains on her own as evidenced by an uncaring, unsupportive husband who was going to sleep without her. To bastardise a quote from George Orwell, all are right, but some are more right than others.

It’s all part of a progression, you see. For all the millenia of patriarchy, we are finally seeing the effects of our sins as the modernity of mindset and culture turns the tables on the men of this world. It began with bra burning in the 60’s, followed by women’s lib in the 80’s, Sensitive New Age Guys and the emergence/acceptance of the woman who would be successful in both career and home in the 90’s, and then suddenly at the turn of the century, men all over the world find themselves paying their dues for the long history of suffering they brought upon their women, their father’s women, their forefather’s women, and just about every living thing that could be gender-categorised as female. Oh karma, how heavy your hand.

I can’t speak for all men, but I do live in fear of scorning my wife in any way, hence my avoidance of adultery at all costs (a secondary principle of mine relating to this has always been, you’ve already got your hands full with one, why add another complication?). But things like this I really find mind-boggling. I mean, I’ve been accused just this morning of not thinking most of the time, and I do admit after seeing what she had to say about it that I am guilty of being a selfish bastard to a certain extent, but who would think that turning off the TV and fan and going to bed would get me an earful of grief and a 24-hour cold shoulder? Who would think that even planning to get married could be such a complicated process? Who would think that having a child would earn you a look from your wife during childbirth that could be compared to a look from someone who thought you killed her entire family?





Sense and Sensitivity

26 07 2008

I write this today to remind myself to watch it.

There are certain situations that occur as one trudges along this journey we call life that demands a certain amount of consciousness for others. Simple things, like apologising when you accidentally bump into someone while walking, thanking someone when he offers you something, or giving your seat to those who need it more, these are the moments that slip by just as easily as, if not more easily than, acting upon them.

These are the exact moments that I always find myself missing. And they further amplify my guilt, not to mention the displeasure of those involved, when those involved are the closest people to me.

i constantly remind people that we do not live alone. With the 4 billion people in this world, not to mention today’s social connectivity with these same 4 billion through the advent of the mobile phone, television, Internet, satellite technology, you just have to be careful whose toes you step on. Ironically, these same social tools which we can use to learn to live with each other, are the things we have grown to take for granted, just as we grow to take for granted the people who are most important to us in the best of times.

I have seen myself become one of those idiots that have not done my due diligence in the service of those around me. And my crimes are many.

My wife has seen and felt on numerous occasions how I let my guard down and manifested my insensitivity to her needs, and i have in turn witnessed and bore the full strength of her ire in all these events. She has also reminded me countless times of the many situations where I should have thought of her family and friends before myself, from missing the opportunity to offer the slightest gestures of courtesy to manifesting unnecessary displeasure over serious misunderstandings that should have been avoided at all costs. I won’t even start about my own family; for the amount of injustices I have brought on them, I may as well be disowned.

But I don’t do all this on purpose. God, who does? I have only this to say about myself, and it by no means helps my case in any way. I get caught up by the things that are on my plate at any given moment, and when a situation where another person or a group of people require my attention, the priorities I set for myself at that moment get in the way of doing what’s really right.

And what’s really right? That’s the one question I’m still learning to answer. It is also where the word “sense” comes into play, something I also find myself severely lacking at the best of times. As the youngest of 4 children (spoilt rotten and forgiven more often for mistakes than I deserve), and the least accomplished of my siblings and even my peers (having earned a diploma a full 8 years later than everybody else in the world, in a discipline I’m not even utilising in my current career), it seems easy to use my life as an excuse for my actions. But to be where I am today, there is no excuse.

i write this as a reminder to myself, and for people to remind me, of the person I am. As for an answer, or a solution? I don’t know. I guess I’m still trying to find one, trying to learn. Just as I know I’m probably going to be trying for the rest of my life.

Time and time again, I disappoint. When will I ever learn?