Archives for category: Imperfect America

This morning, on a call to cancel my doctor’s appointment.

Lady: Hullo this is Dr Chuang’s answering service.

Me: Hi, can I leave a message please for Dr Chuang?

Lady: Your name please?

Me: Jennifer Tan (pronounced to sound like the ‘tan’ in ‘suntan’)

Lady: Phone number?

I give my home number.

Lady: And your message?

Me: I’m not able to make my 10am appointment?

Lady: You wish to cancel it? Okay. Now was your last name Pan with a P, as in Peter Pan?

Me: No, as in Thailand.


Me: As in Taiwan?

The phone crackles.

Me: As in Tennessee?

Lady: Okay Tee Ay Ann Tan?

Me: Yup.


I should’ve just said ‘suntan’.

Wow, I’m pooped. It’s been a long day.

A looong, long day.

Made longer by the fact that I’d just received my first ever speeding ticket.


And let me preface this entry by saying IT HAPPENS IN REAL LIFE EXACTLY LIKE IT DOES ON TV, Y’ALL!


So I was driving along with Rae after her gymnastics class and on our way to our next appointment, enjoying my frozen strawberry yogurt popsicle, and Rae her chocolate one (which was lunch, for me, by the way), when suddenly, there were these pretty, sparkly lights vying for my attention in my rearview mirror.

Oh wait. A police car.

A police car?


Holy crap!

Now I’ve seen people get pulled up by the side of the road, and many times, I remember thinking, “Poor sod. Look at the car. He must be carrying drugs.”

And yet, it did not immediately hit me that when a police car follows you that closely from behind with its lights going, that I was supposed to pull over. So I can’t really imagine how long I must’ve traveled before I actually got the idea that I was being asked to please veer my fat arse to the side of the road.

At once, my heart leaped into my throat and my pulse started to race. I’m being pulled over. I’m one of those cars I see everyday at the side of the road.

Omg. Does he think I have drugs???

Almost instantly, scenes and episodes and clips of every American TV program I’ve watched IN MY ENTIRE LIFE of people getting pulled over. came flashing through my brain.

All my years of COPS and Everybody Loves Raymond are finally paying off! Who’s the idiot now?!

Anyway, so I went over everything I ‘knew’ about getting pulled over, step by step.

Okay okay, first, stop the car. Stoppp! Okay, he’s stopping. Okay next, roll down your window and wait. Okay, here he comes.

Hello m’am. This conversation is being recorded. My name is Officer So-and-so. You exceeded the speed limit, m’am, of 35. You were doing a 49?

Nod. Smile. Oh, I’m sorry.

Can I see your licence and registration please?

Omg. Glove compartment. Open. There ya go. Insurance!

Erm. That’s expired m’am.

Whaaaat??? Oh fuck. Okay, okay, I know I got something that was renewed. Find it, damn it.

Rummage, rummage. Omg there it is. Nicely set up in its own plastic folder.

Here you go, Officer. Smile.

That’s much better. Licence?

Grab wallet. Here.

Okay. Is that your current address?

Crap. No.

Okay, is that your current address? Mr Officer is pointing at my registration.


Okay, wait here. Mr Officer walks back to his blinky vehicle. Will he kindly turn that off? Pleeeeeease?

I hang my head in shame as a truck driver drives pass. He is smiling at me.

Sod off!!

Raeven, meanwhile, is absorbed in her popsicle. Until…

Mommy, I have chocolate all over.

I know, honey. Just sit tight. Mommy has to talk to the policeman.

What…why is he talking to us?

Well…later okay. Mommy has to focus.


I look behind and she, indeed, has chocolate all over. She has a disgusted scowl on her face.

Where’re the wet wipes? I twist around to look for the wet wipes because I dare not step out of the vehicle.

Mr Officer is back.

M’am, you need to change your address at the D O L in ten days. Please sign here. This is not an admission of guilt.

Okay…what do I have to do? Sorry, I’m not from here (C’mon, that’s my best Dumbass Foreigner Card!)…

Well read the back of the duplicate there, mark one of the options. You drive safe now. Tips hat.

Okay…thanks. I look at the ticket. Great. A $132 fine. Just great.

I look at the time. 15 mins to our next appointment. Fuck it. I get out of the car and Mr Officer is still waiting in his patrol car patiently for me to shove off. I take my time with the wet wipes and clean Rae off.

Why is he still waiting for us, mommy?

He’s waiting for mommy to drive away.

But why?

Mommy did something wrong.


I drove too fast, and so, I got punished.


Yea. Mommy has to pay some money (or rather, daddy does). A LOT of money. Sigh.

I can give you some of my money?

Aww honey. It’s okay.

I’ll do more chores, like make my bed, to make more money so you can give it to the policeman.

Aww, that’s very generous of you. But you’ve never EVER made your bed, sweetie.

Oh. Well, I’ll ask Daddy for more money to put in my piggy bank and then you can have it.



I sincerely want to experience the whole American life thing?

But this is taking it a little far.

This blog will observe a day’s silence in light of the massacre in Virginia today.

So many questions, so few answers. Survivors, those left behind – you have our prayers.

I was watching ABC’s Six Degrees and found out about this ingenius little thing in craigslist called Missed Connections (this is the Seattle one).

What a cool idea. How many times have we found or ‘met’ someone on the street or at an intersection driving in our cars or at a supermarket, where our eyes meet for a brief moment, we smile but neither of us have the courage to say hi or take it further, and that connection is therefore ‘missed’ forever?

This is a pretty rare example of how technology can directly impact society literally overnight. From a one to a zillion chance to connecting with a total stranger you only briefly saw, you are narrowing it to perhaps, one in a million or even a thousand in an ultra-connected city like Seattle.

Is this messing with fate? No it’s not! It’s giving you more time to gather up your wits and your guts to make your grand approach without the pressure of time.

Although I’m out of the market, I can’t help feeling excited for some of my single friends. Last year, a single mom friend and I visited the park with our kids and we saw a couple of guys playing ball at the park. This dude and her shared such a moment but before she could drum up enough spunk to approach him (or him her), he’d taken off. What a waste!

Now perhaps they’ll have a second chance!

Is it summer already? Where did spring go? Help! Global warming!

It’s a wonder anyone can stay healthy in these weather conditions. One minute it’s as hot as the devil’s butt crack and the next, hell seems to have frozen over. We have jackets AND sun screen in the car. Is it not the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard?

Rae goes and picks the tiniest piece of clothing she owns because apparently Mommy told her “if you see the sun shining very brightly, you can wear your short shorts.” I said no such thing. That thing barely covers her arse. As if I don’t have enough problems.

The only thing keeping my head from floating away in a sea of phlegm is a nice cup of joe. But I could be drinking a mug full of ink and wouldn’t know the difference SINCE I CAN’T FACKING TASTE OR SMELL ANYTHING.

Meanwhile, Lokes is still curled up nicely under the sheets and it’s almost 10am.

It’s such a beautiful day. I have to share it. Let me go draw the blinds…

NPR has an interview out with Slate’s Emily Bazelon on the latest news headlines about daycare being bad for kids thus adding to the whole mommy guilt epidemic.

This reminds me of the time I sprained my ankle when I was about ten. The doc told me to walk on it after a while. You know, just to get the stiffness out.

My mother, who apparently moonlit as a chiropractor, said that the important thing was that I had to feel pain. If I felt nothing, I wasn’t doing it right.

“You have to walk where it’s most painful! Pain means it’s healing!” were her exact words.

This logic, deeply flawed as it is, has survived millenia, to be the holy grail of supermom wannabes.

The character Liza Hamilton in Steinbeck’s East of Eden is a classic example. A woman who works 18 hours a day for her nine children and husband, never speaks above a hush to get her point across, never complains or gets ill (even if she does, nobody knows), is so miserable to be alive because she believes only pain and suffering will earn her a place in mommy heaven.

Today, moms have it all. We have our careers. We have our machines. In Malaysia, no new mother in her right mind dares to wing it without a freshly minted maid from Indonesia or Cambodia or the Philippines.

But as privileged as we are, deep down, we are all Liza Hamiltons. We want to do it all because we’re just not suffering enough. And because we’re not suffering enough, there grows a ball of guilt in our guts, guilt that’s fed by statistics and studies and news reports that keep telling us that we’re NOT doing enough and NOT doing it right.

That until and unless we let our inner Liza Hamiltons take over, we will never be real mothers.

Look at what happened when someone decided to have cocktails at a playdate. And God forbid that we take an hour off to read a book while the kids watch The Wiggles. Drop your kids off at a daycare so you can earn enough to feed them? What were you thinking?!

If Liza were here today – and real – she would be pursing her lips, shaking her head and fanning the guilt fires with her bellows.

What I wanna know is who commissions these researches anyway? And what the hell use would such data be to parents who have to work? Are there stay-at-home parents out there who send their children to full-time daycare so they can sit around on their asses all day? Is this US$200 million study to tell those parents a thing or two?

I mean, why not use some of that money to fund research on specific kinds of activities and curriculum working parents can use to engage their children after work? Or how about a study on how to improve daycare centers, as mentioned in the ABC article? Or a study on what working parents can do to supplement or neutralise, if any, ‘negative effects wrought by mediocre daycare?

Nobody decides to have kids and then spends money to screw them up unless you’re Courtney Love. We all do what we can to make ends meet, and to be the best parents we can be. I say take to heart the positive aspects of this study, and use the negative stats as a reminder to check and recheck the daycare your child is in.

Do your research. Trust your instincts. Make it work. That’s more than what I, a self-professed SAHM, can claim to do!

So Lokes and I were invited today to his boss’s annual wine-tasting event.

Now I’m no wine connoisseur. But I like wine and I like getting sloshed (I tend to be very happy when I’m tipsy) but since I’m a HBV carrier, it makes drinking a very philosophical experience. With each sip I take, in my head, I fluctuate between severe self-condemnation in daring to risk further damaging my liver, and equally strong self-loathing for being a sorry-ass baby who is letting the good things in life (so good) pass me by just because of some silly disease.

So fun to be me.

Anyway, it was such a great evening. It was beautiful out. Lokes’ boss and his wife are lovely hosts and have a home one can only dream of. I must’ve drank a whole bottle myself (can’t for the life of me remember the names but I know most of it were like, red). Ended the evening wobbling back and forth on my two-inch sandals, grinning like an idiot going, “Oh. My. God!” a couple of hundred times. Ate goat cheese for the first time too. Trippy tasting stuff. I’m such a country bumpkin, I know. Yes, I’ve never had goat cheese, ever. I know! Oh. My. God!

You’d think there was goat cheese in the country but what-e-ver.

Made some new friends too, two of whom are Duvallites. Cathy, if you’re reading this, you make me laugh. My jaw is aching and you have no idea how much I enjoyed it. I am so in awe of you, and am so looking forward to our girls being friends at kindy.

It’s been a while since Lokes and I have both attended a party together. There was that party where I had to wear a white dress and everything. That was fun.

Oh. My. God!

I hope the self-loathing side wins.

…who is going for The Police?

I’ve just learnt that Lokes is out of town the week they’re here (June 6 and 7) and I am in desperate need for someone who’s willing to let me go with them.

I know the tickets are crazy expensive. But how can I call myself a fan if I don’t like give up eating for them. This is The Police, guys. Tea in the Sahara. King of Pain. Synchronicity. Can’t stand losing. It’s like paying for a trip back in time.


Anyway, please please invite me. I need a ride. And people to hug and hold hands with as I De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da the night away.

ps. Karli, I have only enough money for one concert. Sting is sexier than Mayer. I promise.