To the Melanies, Dexters and rugby coaches of the world

What is it about these “talent” shows that keeps me watching only the auditions? And when the “real” competitions begin, I lose interest.

It must be the circus.

In fact, it is better than the circus.

It is the inability of people to see themselves for who they are. Their arrogance. Their ignorance. Their shamelessness. So riveting!

It does take all kinds of people to make the world go round.

I am tone-deaf (with a music background. I’m beginning to sound like “one of them”). They are just plain deaf.

This is what makes it so entertaining. Amusing. Cringe-worthy.

They argue and deck it out with the professionals. Those who know what they are saying. The “authorities.” Otherwise they won’t be in this business.

That’s the ugly part.

There’s also the beauty of show.

I see the drive. Passion. And from time to time a voice, the voice, shatters the pandemonium.

Most of these people, who have an ounce of talent, just want a chance. A chance for a better life. Not just for themselves, but for their family.

Like Rachel Crow. She’s got spunk and cheeriness. She didn’t resort to strutting her feathers to wow the judges. She has exuberance, life, sincerity and a voice.

Like Melanie Amaro. Like Caitlyn Koch. Like Dexter Haygood.

One’s things for sure, it pays to be nice. Humble pie should never be served by a stranger.

This is a lesson to be taken to heart. By everyone, in all walks of life, no matter your standing in life.

Always be nice
Always be kind
Always be humble
Always be as unassuming as dormice (mouse)

Do unto others as you would yourself
And things would resolve themselves.

獨一無二 Unrivaled: Omen(s)

All we wanted was a nice, exciting yet relaxing get-a-way with a concert as an added cherry on the cake. What we got was a harrowing, panicked-filled, mad dash to mark the unofficial end of summer.

My DC (大姐), who was recently introduced to Show Luo, aka Alan Luo, aka Luo Zhi Xiang (羅志祥) aka xiao zhu 小豬 (little pig) via his infamous drama Hi! My Sweetheart (海派甜心) became quite obsessed with him. She went from watching his dramas, to his talk show to tracking down his concert. As luck would have had it, he was throwing his 舞法舞天之一萬零一夜 (Dance with Limits Encore World Live Tour) concert in the Borgata Hotel and Casino at Atlantic City on Labor Day. What’s more, she sold it to me as a two for the price of one concert! Show Luo AND Vanness Wu. Not really convinced, but had nothing better to do, I agreed to go with her, and convinced hubs that HE needed some vaca time.

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Gone with the Wind: Living & Surviving

Was it just another hurricane? Or a wake up call?

Irene, unlike the hurricanes of yesteryear’s, brought much fury up the eastern coastline of US. Move west and it causes massive destruction and life lost. Shift to the right, and people and property are saved.  Or is this a leveling or some kind?

It mimics the current economic and political turmoil of this country, and the world. Everyone is in an economic downturn, a recession. If that is so, we are all equal then, aren’t we? Or is someone gaining?

The politicians of the world are stirring the pot. Japan changes PMs faster than a person changes clothes. US has a four-year-termed President, but even then, by the second-and-a-half -year, the foundation is shaken. And then you have Malaysia. The king is a puppet, ran by people who are not voted in by the majority, but profess to run on democracy. Their “ruling” runs for eternity. Is anyone or anywhere safe(r)?

A few days before Irene, we were busy hoarding water into tumblers, containers and pails. Lucky for us, we Chinese tend to have a stockpile of these vessels lying around. At times of emergencies like these, water becomes our greatest asset. What’s the world’s greatest asset?  Gold. Gold is the world’s trading commodity.

Just like that, we hoard and stockpile these items, which is turn causes the “unnatural” increase of value to them.

Of course, we then squirrel away as much food as possible. Who knows how long we will be imprisoned in our own homes. Our home is always filled to the brim with food. I have a pantry of canned foods, biscuits, pasta and junk food, two freezers filled with vegetables, fruits, dumplings, fish and chicken, and a pull-out pantry packed with instant noodles, rice, flour. Those who go hungry in my home is a lazy bum.

In the economic world, silver and platinum is their food of choice.

The next thing on the emergency list is light: matches, candles, torch-lights and batteries to power it. The world’s emergency cling-on is steel.

In times of destruction, we find friends, family and turn to God. On the other hand, the world clutches on to barrels of oil and bags of coffee. We pay for the latter, but not for the earlier.

Water, food and loved ones keeps us going and warms us to the core. Try sleeping with gold, silver, platinum, steel, oil and coffee.

I’m not trying to be a hypocrite. I know I need some sort of commodity in exchange for some nourishment and protection. But let’s not clamor for metals. Let’s find our warmth in each other. Let’s go back to the basics and be thankful for what we have.

Avarice is a sin…and poisonous

That boy sure knows how to up the ante!

He ate my Easter Chocolate Egg from church.

Hubs and I were busy trying to set up our Pax closet (from Ikea – the poor man’s California Closet – which isn’t really that cheap either). On my last trip downstairs to clear the boxes, I realized the black dog was missing. That usually doesn’t sum up to anything good.

I turned on all the lights, and caught the boy, underneath the sofa, with my bag and the chocolate wrapper from my chocolate egg all torn up.

In a panic, I called my sister up to check exactly how much chocolate that greedy little canine took.

In case you don’t know, chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Roughly about a pound of milk chocolate is detrimental to a 20 lb dog. Lucky for us, we discovered it immediately. We knew we had to induce vomiting. Just to be on the safe side, I called the vet (which was no longer open at 7:45 pm, who in turn referred us to the Animal Poison Control Center, who tried to charge me for nonexistence advice. Unfortunately, since I couldn’t ascertain the amount of chocolate the boy took, I hung up on them).

After discovering, a few days back, that Dusty has car sickness, we took him out for a drive – but not before making him drink a ton of water.

Hubs made the ride so bad, that even I had car sick. By the time Dusty threw up, I wanted to gag too – from the ride and from the atrocious stench of the bile.

We finally got home, in the pouring rain, feeling good that he regurgitated the chocolate. Not too seconds home, and he was down the front porch having explosive diarrhea.

That should, hopefully, be everything.

We finally had dinner at 10:30 pm. Even he took five.

The black storm

I never know what to expect coming home everyday. Will I come home to utter destruction, one wagging tail, and the other sitting at the corner feeling remorse? Or will I return home as I left in the morning, with two wagging tails, plenty of licks and jumps?

My lack of time to write is all thanks to our newest addition, our raven-haired black beauty, Dusty Uzumaki Chong.

The bodily excrement in the pee pen has become a norm. So I’m not even touching that – at least not without protection and an arsenal of cleaning aids.
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Year of the Golden Rabbit

For 1 billion Chinese people in the world, February 3, 2011 is the beginning of one of the most celebrated and auspicious holidays in its culture. For the following 15 days, the Chinese celebrates and ushers in the New Year with not only a big bang, but plenty of eating, visiting and gambling. This year, the Year of the Rabbit, is said to offer much respite from the tumultuous  passing of the Year of the Tiger. It is said to be a calm-er and slower year ahead, one for those who strive and slogged through the Tiger Year. It is a year of recovery and comfort.

Little known useless fact: the Year of the Rabbit is also known to some as the Year of the Cat (by the Vietnamese). I once watched an anime called Fruits Basket that had 13 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. That 13th animal is an ostracized cat, but a cat nonetheless.

Aside from the usual tradition before and during the celebration of the New Year, there is the much sought after food during the festivities.

Unfortunately, there will be none of the celebrating for us, or visiting. We are by all accounts, still in mourning after my grandfather’s recent passing. One hundred days have not yet passed.

We, however, can still eat and enjoy each other’s company.

We also swept and cleaned the house, and even managed to change the bed sheets over to the silk comforter that my father bought from China years back. Hubs thought the golden silk duvet cover of dragon and phoenix embroidery was just too Chinese. He told me to sleep by myself. All the better, because I think this “Queen-sized” comforter was meant for little people and not the “American” size.

Unlike last year, the eve of this New Year falls on a week day. What’s more, I was not allowed to take the New Year off (I called that racism and everything else under the snowy and icy sky of New Jersey). So no big dinner on the eve of New Year, but hubs, DC and I will be going out for dinner tomorrow. We would have done a cookout for friends and family over the weekend, but circumstances dictates otherwise.

In any case, we will STILL be stuffing our faces and awaiting my younger sister’s arrival on Superbowl Sunday (the third day of Chinese New Year) to have steamboat at home.

初一 First Day

Went to work – to earn my keep. Came back to really happy children.

After waiting for some time to get a table at Petite Soo Chow in Cliffside Park, NJ, we were finally seated. We ordered fish 鱼 steamed with tofu and chilli in clay pot, (鱼 yu sounds like “extras” – extra food, extra money, extra love, just plain extra), pan-fried noodles, vege wrapped in bean curd skin and scallion pancake. Great dinner that left us waddling to the car and DC made sure the final bill came up to $X8.88.

Damn Chinese!

Off to more eating tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday!

Anime 2011 Q1 & Q2

New anime

Beelzebub

beelzebubBeelzebub (べるぜバブ Beruzebabu) is a manga written and illustrated by Ryūhei Tamura. It was first published in Weekly Shōnen Jump’s 2008 volume 37-38, then serialized in 2009 and is ongoing. An OVA was announced in July 2010, while the anime adaptation by Studio Pierrot aired from January 9, 2011 (Sunday) with a scheduled 12 episodes.

The opening and ending theme are:
1. “DaDaDa” (だだだ) by Group Tamashii
2. “Answer” by no3b

The story is an action-packed, supernatural, comedic series starring protagonist Tatsumi Oga, the “strongest juvenile delinquent” in a school filled with delinquent.

During a trouncing of thugs by Oga at the riverbank, he finds a man (a transporter between worlds) floating down a river and pulls him to shore. The man promptly splits in half and a baby boy emerges. The baby is the son of the Great Demon King who the transporter, Alain Delon, has chosen based on his prowess as an “evil” human. Later, Baby Beel chooses Tatsumi as his guardian and care giver when the heir to hell’s maid, Hildegarde, comes to retrieve him. It then becomes Tatsumi’s quest to find a replacement caregiver for baby Beel. But first, he has to find someone from school more evil and stronger than him.

Watched the premier episode in Japan with no clue what it was, but found it extremely interesting and adorable. Didn’t realize that these new series are aired at the weirdest hours, most likely for insomniacs. Definitely will continue with the series.
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Our final respects

I was exhausted to the core but sleep never came…for 4 days.

After learning that my grandfather passed away on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2010, DC and I frantically scrambled to return home to Malaysia. We got the first flight out off JFK on Friday, transited in Japan on Saturday, and finally reached KL on Sunday night. The rest of the family from Canada flew out late Saturday and arrived Monday.

After an emotionally draining day on Thursday, I crawled into bed in the wee hours of the morning hoping to catch some shut-eye before taking the flight out. Sandman never visited.

Thanks to the impending snowstorm on Friday, we headed out early to the airport. We then sat in the airport for 4 hours before boarding the plane. With time on our hands, we managed to get ourselves exit seats with extra leg room. That did not help. The flight into Japan was sleepless. We tried to lull ourselves into slumber, but it was impossible. We were fed, watered, and entertained. But rest eluded us. By the time we landed in Narita Airport, we were walking zombies.

We were shuttled to Hotel Nikko for the transit, and thought that this layover was a blessing in disguise. We would finally get our rest.

We showered and had dinner at 6, buying food from a convenient store aptly located in the hotel (instead of heading into Tokyo for a quick run in town). When 8 pm rolled around, our bodies just couldn’t handle it anymore. We crashed. I woke up 3 hours later and begin watching Japanese TV, which I couldn’t figure out when programming ended and advertisement started.

My grandfather, Kong-Kong, the patriarch of the Phoas, had been slowly withdrawing himself from the family. I last saw him in December 2009 when we returned to KL for my younger sister’s wedding, which he never attended. My younger sister has always been the apple of both my grandparents’ eyes. For him not to attend her wedding, must have devastated him. During DC’s recent visit home, just one month back, she saw an emaciated Kong-Kong. He, she said, had given up on living. And during their, what is now, final talk he told her that it truly saddened him that he never made it to both his grandchildren’s wedding (both mine and my younger sister’s). He just didn’t want to “spoil the evening” for anyone. He was, ever so effectively, withdrawing himself away from his family. Even worse, was his lost of teeth. He refused food and eventually water, until he fell Christmas Day.
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When it Rains, it Pours

We have been searching for another dog to adopt, off and on, ever since Haydn’s passing 1.5 years ago. In the pass 4 months, we begin to up the ante and reached out to multiple rescue groups and shelters after seeing a few that caught our attention. Those came to naught as we found out quickly. We were always caught in a certain amount of red tape and bait-and-switch tactics. In any case, it was frustrating.

It would have been easier buying a puppy, but we know there are many abused and neglected dogs that needed our love, protection and nourishment. So we persisted – as if we didn’t have enough on our plates. Our weekends were spent making trips around the tri-state area, visiting potential adoptees.

Just as we were about to give up on the search, the calls started pouring in around Thanksgiving. We met Dusty (Trusty), an “owner surrender.” He is a 2-year-old black Cocker Spaniel, with straight, black lustrous fur. He is the envy of Asian girls and my husband alike. However, for unknown reasons to the rescue group, he lost hair from his neck down to his elbows. Aside from that, he is visibly skinny.

Dusty

Dusty

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Season of thanks and blessings

So the holiday season has begun with the ushering of a day of thanks (top off with a mad-rush of deranged and fanatical shopping at the end of the night).

I count my blessings everyday. In a foreign land, where home, family and friends are oceans away, everything is a blessing and a reason to be thankful and grateful for.

I spent my birthday this year with both my sisters; a rare occurrence and one that is truly special. We laughed at things that only we can laugh about, and rolled our eyes at each of our idiosyncrasies. We ate like we have been starved for ages (not a rare sight) and cherished the little moments that we shared together. For that, I am very thankful.

I have my family; a dear and tight-knit family from Asia all the way to North America. They are always there when I need them, regardless of distance and time difference. I am thankful for my parents, my aunts, uncles and cousins.

I have my health. A husband that puts up with my pms-ing, melodramatic, cantankerous mood swings. Just like my health, everything is a yo-yo: up and down in a blink of an eye. But without dark there cannot be light. For that, I am thankful. Thankful for the ups and downs in life.

I have my job, a sparse commodity these days. I am thankful.

I have a solid roof over my head; even though this has been a year of repairs, starting with the sewage drain on Chinese New Year. Out with the old, in with the new.

I still have friends (a miracle!). Thank you for remembering me, for I certainly remember and think of you especially during the holidays. You will always have a special place in my heart.

Last but not least, I am thankful for Jessie. We visited a shelter, a shelter where Jess was adopted from 8 years ago, yesterday. It was a horrifying sight and a gut-wrenching sound. Never mind the stench. Everyone of the dogs just wanted to be in a home, to be loved. Every cage we passed, the inmates were calling for us. Most still had fighting life in them. Others were resolved to whatever fate meted out. By the time we left, they were crying and howling because they knew they lost a chance. Jessie, we found you. But you definitely gave us love.

Gratitude | 112609