Archives for category: Imperfect Reads

Wise words

So I just finished Muffy Mead Ferro’s Confessions of a Slacker Mom.

This may as well be the book I was supposed to write, the book I would’ve written had I gotten my act together. Then again, I’m not just a slacker at mommying.

Highlights:

  • The example of making-do, photographed here. It’s so true that we parents give so much to our kids, thinking more is “better” – more technology, more toys, more room, more praise (but not necessarily more time or attention). Are we slowly taking away their resourcefulness? Their ability to “make do”, to improvise rocks and sticks into flying saucers and magic wands?
  • Providing more also takes away their ability to share. I’ve always been advised to buy two of everything to minimise fighting, for my peace of mind, to promote fairness. What about teaching my kids the importance of sharing, taking turns? When we assign cutlery and plates, toys and books, rooms, computers, books and cars to each of our children, are we slowly and subconsciously not just enabling the culture of entitlement (“Rae has one, I deserve one too!”), but also the “Mine and mine only” attitude?
  • Lastly, does real and sustainable self esteem really come from heaping praise upon glowing praise on our kids for the tiniest of accomplishments, or should we nurture a sense of self-driven pride and delayed gratification by remaining neutral (i.e. we don’t praise nor do we show are disappointment or criticise if the opposite occurs) unless we are really, truly impressed?

Someone needs to give Ms. Ferro an award, if she’s not already gotten one.

Would you take your partner back if he or she cheated on you?

Would you be able to go past the betrayal?

Is moving past the betrayal the only sign of maturity, of enlightenment, of true love?

Is resisting the impulse never to do anything wrong despite one’s lifeless life a rejection of one’s humanity?

I just finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s The Mermaid Chair about a woman named Jessie in her 40s who takes the journey back to her island hometown to the aid of her mother who seems to be losing her mind, which she has been slowly since after her husband’s death 30 years ago. In her return, Jessie finds that she herself is on a similar journey and perhaps in retaliation, has an affair with a monk despite being married to an attentive, loving husband.

I found myself a little skeptical about the whole thing, because in my world, not many husbands or wives, no matter how open-minded or enlightened they claim to be, can accept an affair. It just takes a really long time to reconcile the betrayal, to reconcile the cognitive dissonance in our heads late at night when we are alone with our thoughts because:

We fight with the knowledge that your spouse has had sex with another person.

We fight with the claim that this person can say he or she loves you, and yet loves someone else.

We fight with the realisation that this person may not love you anymore but has chosen to stick with you all this time because of your kids.

We fight with the realisation that this person has grown bored of you just because you’ve been together so long.

We fight with our own feelings of love and loyalty for this person.

How do we be mature and reconcile the act with the person? That this person you love and respect and think is so smart, can be capable of doing something so hurtful and stupid and…weak? That you could have been so blind as not to see this coming?

How do you then move on despite all these battles, to emerge through the surface, hurt but still alive, stronger, more forgiving and still loving? And know that you’re not doing this because you’re afraid of change, that you’re not still clinging on to something so futile that only YOU can see the worth in it?

Isn’t it odd how Western (and exceedingly Westernised) civilisation(s) cling(s) on to and guard(s) monogamy so religiously (pardon the pun) when polygamy has been around so much longer? And yet, more and more people have affairs (it seems to be so) today, and are unable to stay with one partner in his/her lifetime.

Is this evolution? Are animals that mate for life becoming extinct?

And will we be considered more highly evolved if we learn to forgive and accept that emotional, sexual betrayal is just part of life? To be able to move past the hurt and anger, to say to this person who has hurt us, "I forgive you because what you’re doing is normal. It’s just part of growing old"?

If this is so, I have a long way to go.

I’ve been reading David S. Kidder and Noah Oppenheim’s The Intellectual Devotional these past few weeks. It’s a 365-day devotional (a devotional in the bible sense is scripture reduced to 365 days of mini-lessons to make for easy daily reading) for knowledge in seven fields: philosophy, visual arts, music, history, science, religion and literature. I’m now reading the American History version of it.

Did you know that ‘cotton gin’ is not actually a gin? The ‘gin’ is short for ‘engine’. The cotton gin, invented by Eli Whitney, revolutionised the production of cotton and the cotton mill powered by rapids/water falls aka hydro powered, invented by Samuel Slater, revolutionised the textile business in America, with consequences that included the increased and prolonged use of slavery in the South, among other things.

It’s interesting to read American history now that I’m living here. We studied very VERY little of it back home in Malaysia. For instance, did you know that Pocahontas didn’t really end up with John Smith but a John Rolfe? And that Ben Franklin signed all three key documents that established America, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris and the American Constitution? And that John Hancock (which was to me just a word for ‘signature’ and the insurance company of the same name) was one of the patriot leaders of the American Revolution?

I can literally feel my brain growing. How will you be able to tolerate me now? 😉

Tip: They have a blog. Three words: Subscribe the feed.

Living room, mid evening. Tipsy from sipping a 25.4oz bottle of Frutezia, Passion Blend. Alcohol content 6%.

Jeremy Irons is reading Vladimir Nabakov’s Lolita. Humbert Humbert is describing making love to the newly made Mrs Humbert, aka the mother of the real object of his desire, Lo. "Bathed through the undergrowth of dark, decaying forests…" Bet you’ve never heard a ‘mature’ woman described as such. If you’ve never read Lolita that is.

I wonder if Vladimir Nabokov was a pedophile. I’m sure I’m not the first.

Missing my husband. Need to pee.

Realisation: The name "Lolita" can never be used again because of its ‘literary’ significance.

…but this was circulating on email. Made my day, really. I added my own in brackets.

19 things I learnt from Movies

1. If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St Patrick’s Day parade – at any time of the year.

2. All beds have special L-shaped top sheets that reach up to armpit level on a woman but only waist level on the man lying beside her.

3. All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French bread.

4. Once applied, lipstick will never rub off – even while scuba diving (and sleeping in the L-shaped top sheets).

5. The ventilation system of any building is a perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building without difficulty.

6. Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German accent will do.

7. The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window of any building in Paris.

8. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

9. When paying for a taxi, never look at your wallet as you take out a note – just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

10. If you lose a hand, it will cause the stump of your arm to grow by 15cm.

11. Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and waffles for their family every morning, even though the husband and children never have time to eat them.

12. Cars and trucks that crash will almost always burst into flames.

13. A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of a football stadium.

14. Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.

15. All single women have a cat.

16. Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

17. One man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them all than 20 men firing at one.

18. Creepy music coming from a graveyard should always be closely investigated.

19. Most people keep a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings – especially if any of their family or friends has died in a strange boating accident.

Now go on and have a great day!

Pasta Queen (your name should be in a spelling bee, lady), a fellow blogger and hostel mate I met in Chicago last month at Blogher, just wrote this amazing post about the importance of remembering how it feels to be 300lbs.

Her book, Half of Me: The Last 200lbs are the Hardest, out April 2008, is about her painful but poignant two-year weight loss journey. Make sure to get it because she is a truly remarkable writer, as you can probably see from her blog.

Being on The Journey myself, I am not yet at a point where I can say, wow, I can now fit in a swing without looking up at the bolts. And that is perhaps my most sensible reason to lose weight.

It’s not about being able to shop at a regular store or fitting into an airplane seat. It’s about fitting into a ride at the county fair or go down the slide at the park with my girls without getting stuck.

It’s not about getting stick thin so I can get into my secondary school clothes again (no amount of money will make me get into those fluorescent yellow leotards). It’s just getting to my ideal weight so I can do things with my children without embarassing myself, embarassing them or damaging public property.

Although I won’t be able to reflect on memories of being fat for a while, I will feel good about myself now, because while boogying to Maroon 5 at Jazzercise this morning, I felt better than I had ever felt in the last five years. I was jumping, skipping, plié-ing and relevé-ing up a storm, energy and endorphins rushing through my veins. And like Eliza Doolittle triumphant over her vowels, I felt like I could’ve danced all day.

I received an email from Amazon.

My pre-order has shipped.

My pre-order of Book Seven.

Please, please, please, PLEASE let it reach my house BEFORE I go to Chicago. PLEASE!!

And if you don’t hear from me about two nights in a row, you know what’s up. So if you’ll excuse me, I need to drop off the face of the earth.

Today, I started reading Jodi Picoult’s The Tenth Circle.

I had no idea what the book was about, as I love Picoult and had held a few of her books at the library.

And then I read the Prologue:

picoult

To. a. tee.