Archives for category: Imperfect Everything

Why have I not been blogging?

Because we’re just home from a road trip to Mount St Helens and Portland, Oregon. Where the most enjoyable time I spent was in a bookstore. This city is far too expensive for my taste. Well, its zoo is.

Because I am too busy re-reading Lynne Truss’ Eats, Shoots and Leaves because it’s so darn funny and because I just got the book at Powell’s, evidently the Best Place to Visit in Portland, Oregon. Thanks, Adrienne!

Because, really, one should only blog if one has something Truly Good to blog about. And right now, my excuses are Truly Good.

ps. To deviate a second, HARRY POTTER SPOILER WARNING!! DON’T READ THIS IF YOU’VE NOT READ DEATHLY HALLOWS: How on earth did the sword end up with Neville Nigel (is it Nigel?) (thanks Ann!!) when that goblin stole it?

It was a beautiful evening for a summer celebration.

The kind of evening that took its time, turning from orange to maroon to purple ever so slowly as though sorry to leave.

There, on the edge of the shimmering Sound, we waited patiently, watching and listening to the growing murmur as crowds thickened on the grassy incline facing ‘the barge’ in the middle of the lake. From near and far, Washingtonians gathered to witness the fireworks that would end the second day of the Seattle Summer Seafair. I hugged my girls to me and whispered promises in exchange for patience.

Just wait and see. You’ll see something beautiful.

It started with plane doodles. It’s scary…it’s beautiful, whimpered Sky, alarmed and mesmerised at once. She’d tucked herself deep into my arms at first because of the evening chill, but later, had cowered at the magnificent display in front of her. What wonderful, frightening magic it must be to two little girls from Malaysia who had never, ever, seen fireworks. They were so close you could smell the cordite in the air.

Is the plane here to help us be more patient waiting for the fireworks? Rae’d asked. It is scary and surprising how perceptive she is.

And then, it came. 30 minutes, we watched, we exclaimed, we marveled. Somewhere behind us, a hodge-podge of music played, unchoreographed. Pink. Toby Keith. The theme to Harry Potter. And then suddenly, Somewhere Over the Rainbow emerged. An almost-silence settled as the words and notes soared with the sparkles of blue and red and green, taking our breaths and voices away.

As I hugged Sky to me, all I could think of was how fortunate we were to be here this evening to witness this breathtaking sight.

And how fortunate we are to be here at all.

 

This video does not do the fireworks display justice since we took it with our little digital camera but I wanted to share a slice of our beautiful evening with you. Enjoy!

Growing up, my sister and I were fed a steady diet of George Bernard Shaw and Rodgers and Hammerstein. One of our favourite musicals of all time is R&H’s South Pacific.

But I am ashamed to confess that I’d never realised the significance of the movie, until today. South Pacific, as many may know, is about an all-American nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, who falls in love with a French man, and a young Lieutenant from Philadelphia who becomes smitten by a young Polynesian-French girl. The backdrop is World War II and the Allies are holding off the Japanese in the Pacific.

What you may not know, if you’ve not seen the movie in 20 years like me, is that South Pacific had boldly explored the complexities of interracial courtship, which in 1958, must’ve been quite revolutionary.

How much has changed in the 49 years since? Fortunately, quite a lot. Today, multi-ethnic families and interracial relationships are abound, and diversity is celebrated – not in all, but many countries, made even more popular by the Brangelina clan. As such, someone watching the movie for the first time must find it so strange to see “Lootellan” Joseph Cable turning away from the beautiful Liat simply because she is Polynesian, or Nellie Forbush spurning the love of handsome Emile de Becque because he was married to a Polynesian. Feelings of confusion may also be intensified when you hear Lt. Cable sing You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught, where one is also moved by the same anger the dashing ‘Lootellan’ feels about how children of that era are conditioned to hate and fear people who look different. And then the irony sets in, that the backdrop of this movie is a war that was born of the same demons.

It is both reassuring and alarming to realise that the battle against racism was wrought so long ago (isn’t it inspiring to know that R&H were so far ahead of their time?).While we may now live in a world that by and large celebrates racial and religious diversity in love and family, the road to true acceptance and understanding still stretches long before us. Will it be another 50 years before someone watches a movie, say An Inconvenient Truth, and then wonder, whimsically, how enlightened Al Gore truly is?

I guess I’ll never know.

I heart Chicago, but I heart Seattle more.

I hugged and bathed and read to the kids.

I hugged and bathed and yapped non-stop to my husband.

Life is good. And now I’m going to bed.

But wait.

New post-Blogher07 resolutions:

  • I will not blog daily anymore, but only when I have a good story to tell.
  • I will strive to write from the heart, as per the strong instruction of Claire Fontaine.
  • I started writing again. I am not sure if it should be a screenplay or a novel, which means it’s neither a compilation of shorts stories from my blog nor will it be a typical Asian rags-to-riches nor Falling Leaves novel. It’s late 19th-century made-for-women erotica. Intrigued?

Okay, good night all.

I’m sitting at the hostel now just killing time before I take the train back to O’Hare, so I will do a very simple recap on my trip and experience to the Windy City and my first blogging conference.

First, about Chicago:

  • Chicago loves revolving doors. I found out it’s because of the wind. You can’t have banging doors and glass breaking on a regular basis. I guess that makes sense. I have a slight phobia of revolving doors. I am afraid of missing a gap and crashing straight into one of the ‘doors’ or miss the part where I exit and just keep going round and round, forever.
  • Pedestrians matter not. I have almost been knocked down twice even when I was crossing when the little white man tells me I can. Apparently the law of the concrete jungle applies here (so Seattle is NOT a jungle). Aka, pedestrians jaywalk whenever and wherever. Very decadent.
  • They eat hot dogs with tomatoes and the relish has an unnatural green to it. I stuck to mustard and onions.
  • Giordano’s is the name of an Italian restaurant and not a clothing store (which is the case in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, except it’s called GIORDANO, without the aprostophe and S). The deep-dish pizza is AMAZING. Best pizza I’ve ever had, hands down.
  • People working in the service industry here are not as friendly. They are not downright rude but most of those I’ve met are not as friendly as Seattle waitresses et al. Maybe it’s just the overall Chicago “I’m coo” attitude, I dunno. Just an observation.

Now, about Blogher07 I’ve made some of the concerns I have known at the Unconference at the session about future Blogher events so I won’t reiterate all of them here:

  • A conference is what you make of it. I think for someone who has never been to a conference comprising of mostly women, much less for someone who has never been to a conference, period, she will feel immediately that it is like the first day at an all-girls boarding school, or maybe at an all-girls high school get-together. The anxiety with having to approach strangers, to make small talk, to talk about yourself because blogging is so personal, is very palpable. You almost don’t know what to do or where to sit, and those who seem to know what they’re doing, will stick with others who do. But gather enough courage to approach just ONE person, and you will have made enough headway to survive the rest of the conference rather well. It is really up to you to make the effort to get in there and mix it up, make friends and be heard. I understand this is not an easy thing for some – it is certainly not for me – but I GOT THROUGH IT. And even made some really cool new friends.
  • I felt the sessions on global voices, the representation of the attendees were not global enough. The session on Blogging: A voice for silenced communities, they really should’ve had someone who had actively been silenced in the past to share their experience in their fight to be heard. It’s not easy I know to get someone to talk about these things, esp. someone from another country, but I’d suggested a video link for future conferences, which of course, is not cheap. I can think of so many Asian women and men bloggers who are more than willing to come to the US to talk about how it is to STILL live under a authoritarian regime and where blogging means having to face the threat of imprisonment and sometimes even torture on a daily basis, and not just general dissent or exclusion/inclusion.
  • I felt there were too many tracks to choose from. Perhaps three would be good, and make the conference a three-day thing and an Unconference on day four. I was often torn between Art of Life and Identity tracks. Maybe just Art, Tech and Biz, or Tech/Biz, Art and Society.
  • I felt the keynote on the last day should not have been a political figure (we had Elizabeth Edwards, wife of 2008 presidential candidate Senator John Edwards) esp. not when campaigning has already begun. It did not feel right.

I think the rest of the areas of improvement are not so important to me, but I’m not fussy.

Okay, have to run, plane to catch and everything. I hear there are delays en masse but it’s good to just check in and be done with it, right? See you guys back in Seattle!

Today, at the Un-conference and final day of Blogher07, we talked about writing good headlines to attract more readers.

I think this will attract the hell out of you.

At around 2.30m today, 15 minutes before my scheduled Chicago Historic Architecture tour, I looked into my safety pack hanging around my neck and realised my ATM/debit card was missing.

The last time I’d withdrawn money was two nights ago at my hostel.

To the person who picked up my card and tried to use it, your toenails will now grow inwards for the rest of your life. Enjoy.

Needless to say, I panicked. The tour lady must think me extremely rude to be talking into my cell trying to deactivate my card while she tried to talk into my other ear (they have these remote mike/earphone thingies they use on their walking tour so they don’t need to yell over the traffic and other Chicago street noises). It was a very stressful experience no doubt.

I’ve checked my account. No million-dollar withdrawals, so we’re good. But it did ruin my two-hour tour, which I’d spent worrying about whether someone was robbing us blind.

Does it only happen to me, or have you guys ever experienced bad stuff happening on the very last day of your holiday?

Anyway, I have loads of new pictures taken during the tour. It was very informative. I wished I’d paid more attention though.

About Blogher07, I’m just going to leave the recap for when I get home since Live Writer is still not posting properly for me (so if you get multiple posts from me on your reader, I apologise). As for the rest of my stay here in Chicago, I’m just going to grab some dinner now and spend the evening lying down quietly next to my bags because clearly, I cannot be trusted.

I feel blue.

Being a total social spaz, coming to Blogher took a lot of courage for me. For one, I speak nothing like the way I blog. Always having to look for the right words to use so that my American friends can understand me, while making sure I speak in the ‘right’ accent (gon-DOE-la? GONE-dola, COM-mittee? CUM-mittee?) is very stressful for me since I tend to think faster than I speak, so if I don’t talk quicker, I might not remember what I want to say.

This ultra-consciousness causes me to rarely approach someone to make small talk or conversation, which I know will go away once I get ‘into the groove’.

Which is not such a good thing if you attend a conference full of bloggers – and women bloggers, at that.

Before we came, DaringYoungMom (who was fabulous yesterday during her session on whether the blogosphere needed an intolerance intervention) who had been to last year’s shindig, and I talked about how some of the attendees to Blogher06 were disappointed that some of the more famous bloggers were not as responsive as they’d hoped, when approached. This, I don’t have a problem with because well, I don’t really care. But first, I need to be able to get over the ‘approach’ part first. The fear of people not responding well to me is something I worry about later.

You’d think that having been a journalist would’ve fully trained me to talk to total strangers. Well, I’m not a journalist anymore and cannot arm myself with a business card validating my right to ask questions indiscriminately – even the stupid ones. Plus this is a blogger conference, so everyone’s a blogger. Imagine a journalist going to a conference for journalists (esp. a journalist who can’t even talk). Not so special anymore.

But I am glad to report that I’ve managed to overcome some of my spazness, and have made some great new friends who happen to be staying at the hostel. They are Jennette from Pastaqueen, who is publishing a book on her weight loss journey (she lost 200lbs!!!) which will be out April 2007 (see I’m marketing for you, Jennette!), Shonnie from myblogcoach.com (who will always be remembered as the Pig Joke lady), Cheryl from Hummingcrow.com, Adrienne from Babytoolkit (who also writes at parenthacks.com, which I love) and Cassie, whose blog I will link later at Indecisivepeach.com.

And because of all of you, I’m having such a great time here in Chicago!

Okay, now go to my pictures are at Flickr!

Just a quite note to say that I AM NOT DELETING YOUR COMMENTS ON PURPOSE!! I’m using a new notebook and hence a later version of MSN Live Writer (than the one I use on my desktop at home), and it doesn’t seem to be working properly and I’ve had multiple of the same postings and I’ve had to delete some of them, so if you’ve commented on a post I’ve deleted, sorry!!

Anyway, had my lunch and here are more pictures and videos from Blogher07:

Look at the crowd!

And a video of Bloghers speed-dating.

And at last night’s mommy get-together organised by Maya’s Mom and Babycenter.

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Plain Jane Mom and Melissa of keepingtrackofsanity

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Megan, Melissa’s sister and the fabulous Melina of Ellinetha, which I found out means ‘Greek Woman’.

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The first session about The Business of You. Was pretty informative in a Q&A format. Review in short: Find your niche, do it well, work hard, column syndications don’t pay much, book deals don’t come easy!