Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Heavy topics ahead!!

I survived the wedding, at least one friendship survive thus far, and let's hope the other one does too. It's complicated, and I don't want to go into details here. It turned out to be a pretty big wedding, so all my worries about being at the bottom of the list was pretty much eliminated due to size. That is, the amount of people on the bottom of the list is going to be very likely to be pretty big, so much easier to just blend with the crowd.

Sometimes though I do wonder if it is easier to give a gift that is actually useful, simply because I have witness some people's lack of discipline when it comes to easy money. I know that I have zero discipline when it comes to some unexpected money that comes my way, so this is to be expected of everyone else. I also know that I can exercise some discipline if I want to, especially if I have a big goal that I am currently working towards - like for example, saving enough for the down payment of a property, and later on, paying the mortgage as soon as I can.

Yes, I know that not everyone is like me, so I should just zip it right - especially when it comes to how other people spend their money and live their lives. I should comment less, basically, just because other people are different than me. To this, I agree wholeheartedly. I just hate it when people look at me and complain that I manage to buy an apartment, while doing everything else at the same time. It takes discipline. I complain about a lot of things too, as evidenced by most things in this blog, but for the most part, I try to make decisions that are beneficial for me in the long term.

Money is such a big deal, isn't it. If  you contribute too little towards the pool for your coworker's farewell party, people are going to talk behind your back. If you don't contribute at all, they are going to talk about you too. Very few people would just come out and say, this is the level of contribution that is acceptable - because hello, this whole thing is meant to be voluntary right. Just like the wedding gift - it is meant to be voluntary, but in reality, the bride and groom, keep track of this information and then subsequently use that when it comes to gifting in future. In this case, it is so much easier to be the first one amongst your group of friends to get married. I am rolling my eyes as I write this simply because I still find this information difficult to believe till this date, but it is at the same time true based on my extremely limited personal experience. So I am somewhat rather horrified, but I am not sure what it is that horrifies me more - the fact that people use that info for future conducts, or the fact that people just can't get past the fact that it is meant to be voluntary, or both.

I still maintain that if you don't want to see that person at your event - be it wedding or birthday or whatever (what else do people celebrate these days? PhD graduations??) - then don't send the invite. Easy peasy. Don't send the invite out of obligation because there is this chance that the invitee will attend out of obligation. See how complicated it can get? All just because you were doing things in the name of politeness.

Anyway, on to bigger and brighter, and certainly more important things. I am all wedding-ed out for the rest of the year. I do hope that no one else is getting married this year. There is technically one other wedding that I should attend, but due to extremely complicated circumstances, I am going to skip that one, and just send my wishes. I will ask my Dad to attend if the invite ever arrives at home (highly doubt it). I hope this friendship will survive this one, but I am ok if it doesn't. Don't look at me that way, okay, I change, she changes, and we grow apart. I am just acknowledging that.

I was talking to Dad yesterday and it was something along these lines:
Dad (D): Do you know anyone who's a doctor?
D: Do you know anything about lymphoma?
Me (M): cancer?
D: Yep. Is it dangerous?
M: Depends on the type (note: I was furiously Google searching at the same time)
D: Its Type B
M: Who's got lymphoma?

I swear at the time I asked the question, I was actually contemplating not asking it at all because I was so fucking scared that it was him who's got the disease. Or mum, which is just as bad. Right at that moment in time, I was so scared of the idea of losing the two people that matter a lot in my life, one of which I argue with quite often, but I do love with all of my heart (it is just that my head clashes with his). I am pretty sure that I would feel slightly worse if it's mum because I hardly ever fight with her. I know it doesn't make sense, anyway.

D: Uncle Teddy. Do you remember him?

I was relieved beyond words. So much so that I nearly cried.

Of course I remember uncle Teddy. I remember him quite vividly and I felt (and still feel) a tinge of sadness. Why this is so is another story another time, because it is complicated and today it seems like I am writing about all of these complicated stuff that requires a lot of explanation individually and I have no energy to explain them like they should be explained.

I felt that I am taking my life, my health and most importantly, my parents for granted. I felt so incredibly shit when the realisation hits me: I am selfish, I do love myself a lot and I make choices that are designed to make my life better and easier - or at least, so I thought.

But what is better, and what is easier?

In life we have choices and our decisions often requires weighing the outcomes of a few choices that suit us the best at that moment in time. The danger happens when we focus a little bit too heavily on the "at that moment in time" bit. Because ideally, we make decisions that are better for us in the long run (see above about money stuff). But instead, what we thought are better for us in the long run requires so much short term sacrifice in terms of time lost that we will never be able to recover/make up.

Parents have this guilt all the time - because they somehow think that the best thing for their kids is to be by their side 24/7. I think there is a thing such as spending too much time together - this is probably because I need a lot of me-time. I think people need to grow individually and to do this they need space. Although I do admit that it is nice to have someone that you spend a lot of time with - like back in school, when we get to see our friends everyday, it is nice to go to school because of that.

I have not lived with my parents for the longest time, and sometimes I do miss living with them - as in actual living under one roof, not spending holidays together. I think this is because I have been living away from them since such a young age (try 12), so I never quite feel like being home with them; instead everything felt like one temporary arrangement after another.

I don't regret the way I turn out. But I do miss going home.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weddings again (I know)

Sometimes I loathe talking about money, particularly when I have to explain myself over and over again on the same point. I was having a conversation with a friend who is in a similar situation to me - attending weddings weekend after weekend these last few weeks and more to come. It is the wedding season afterall? 

I googled "the rule of giving gifts for destination weddings" and all of its variants. While I receive no information that is remotely helpful to me, it has been quite a blast reading everything else people have written about destination wedding. 

It helps a lot of you are wealthy AND if your friends are wealthy and are willing to spend their funds on you. The rest of us mere mortals who are just making ends meet are not in this position and so subsequently left to ponder these things alone. 

So. Here is my take on the whole thing. 

It takes a lot of effort for you to organise a destination wedding. It takes a lot of effort for me to attend your destination wedding. I have to take time off work, fork out money for travel and accomodation, in addition to the usual hu-ha of hair, dresses, shoes and whatever. Because of these additional expenses, I have absolutely no idea what to give you as a present. I'd like to think that my presence alone is enough, but I am not sure that you would feel the same way. I'd like to test my friendships to see if this holds, just for the sake of finding out. Isn't it nice to see where your friends stand on this? 

I'll tell you where I stand on this one. IF one day I am blessed enough to get married with the love of my life, the celebration will entail my guests sitting in one long table, chatting, laughing and eating good and drinking good wine. And their presence is the most precious thing for me. I don't care about anything else. 

It is logistically challenging for you to organise your overseas-residing family to the wedding destination. This one is totally your fault. Did you not see this when you were planning the whole thing?? I get that you want to save on costs and so you ask me if I can drive them. Here is the deal - you should have told me this before I make my arrangements for the day. Of course I can change my plans, but it is extremely inconvenient for me, not to mention that there is no space in my car. 

I don't mind being the designated driver and doing all of these favours for you, that's not the issue here. The issue is your lack of planning abilities and the fact that you take it for granted that I am going to be able to do anything and everything that you ask for on a very short notice. Bad planning on your part, potential resentment on my part. Attending your wedding is hassle enough - see point (1) above. And now this?? 

My wedding only happens once in a life time, as my friend, you should just suck it up and put me first. Ok, no one has actually put this point this way, but really, deep down at the core, this is what it sounds like. I pray that you would never get a divorce, although when that does happen and you get a second chance at this whole wedding thing, I am so going to pull this point out and flag it down your face and make you feel as guilty as hell. There are two contradictory points here. One: weddings are supposed to be about family and friends, at least in Asian cultures anyway. As I said in my previous entry, you can't cherry pick the culture. If you say that the weddings is about friends and family, then why the hell do you pick a destination that is causing so much hassle to everyone who wants to attend? Two: friends do not cause each other angst and grieve, or even guilt. My enemies may cause these things, but I refuse to believe that my friends would put me at such an inconvenient position for an extended period of time and then play the guilt card on me. 

Or in short, as I have always said, I love you, but I love myself more. 

Of course I will attend your wedding, and I will smile and laugh and say all the right things. Your wedding will be perfect, don't you worry. And let's see if our friendship will survive this.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

More on wedding-related stuff

I had a rather interesting conversation last night with a close friend. I say "close friend" because we are pretty close in my opinion. Our history dates back to like... err...11 years ago or there abouts.

He was in a terrible terrible mood last night. It was a pretty annoying conversation because he was taking it all out on me, and quite frankly I had nothing to do with any of these things that he was annoyed about. He is the best man of an upcoming wedding somewhere in Northern NSW this coming weekend, and he is feeling all the stress... even when he's not the groom.

He was not talking as to why he is stressed - typical man. But I know intuitively why he was in such a terrible mood. Luckily, I was in a pretty good mood last night so I tried to say things to make him feel better - unsuccessfully.

Anyway. This brings me to my real point of writing: how can people ask so much of their friends when it comes to their wedding. These friends not only have to give their time, but also have to foot part of the bill (buck's night anyone?) and is also expected, in the Asian culture, to give extravagant gifts.

I swear, sometimes I hate being Asian. Sometimes I do things because I am Asian - as in it is expected of me to do it given my Asian background. I don't mind giving gifts, I say this over and over again, but I am very selective as to who I give it to. I am very selective as to how I spend my time, so I honestly do not see why I cannot apply the same principle with my money. I get very annoyed whenever someone is wasting my time. I don't see why I cannot get annoyed anytime someone is wasting my money.

Money is such a tricky subject, isn't it. We just don't talk about it, period.

I have seen this over and over again - your friend is getting married. You are asked to be a bridesmaid/groomsman and then suddenly without realising it, all the bills just rack up. In his defence, let's call him G, he probably did not know what he was in for. He did not know how much time he has to spend on the preparation. He did not know how his speech needs to be. He did not know how much the bill ends up to be - and it is still growing as we speak.

I think it is a good idea for the bride and groom to be footing the expenses of the groomsmen and bridesmaids - since this is the ASIAN CULTURE. I think it is such a terrible idea to cherry-pick which bits of the culture you want to adopt. If you expect your friends to act like Asians, then how about you act like Asians yourself.

It is really true how people's dark sides tend to emerge when they are planning their weddings, isn't it? I get that you want a particular wedding that has been your dream for the longest time, yet is it really worth causing so much inconvenience (and also grief) to your friends?

I prefer not to do that to my friends. Weddings are supposed to be fun and loving, why spoil it with the fact that it has to be at this location, it has to be with this colour theme, it has to be bla bla bla.


It is just an excuse to make it all about yourself, and to a certain extent, forcing other people to focus their lives on your wedding. While they may do all of these with a smile, trust me when I say that the resentment is building up pretty quickly, even when you don't get to see it, because you are too engrossed with your own wedding.

I much rather have friends who would not do that to me.

Even when it means I have no friends.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Last night over a bowl of black noodles and fried chicken

Does it bother you that he still loves me?

I am glad you admit that. I knew there was something. Some people prefer to remain in denial.

You know that I don't love him. I used to, but not any more.

You used to? 

Once upon a time. We never got together, which is part of the problem. Some people find it difficult to let go of the love that did not quite happen.


I am not one of those people. I prefer to move on.


I want to be with you. Only you.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

And I will answer

Lately for reasons I am yet to comprehend, catch up with my friends tend to be a very intense affair.

I am always the party who ask the personal questions, the difficult to answer questions. The questions that make everyone uncomfortable (including myself at times), and I maintain my view that these questions still need to be asked even when they are not answered.

Because at the very minimal my friends would know what it is that I would like to know, even when I remain ignorant of these things that I'd like to know.

Lately, however, the role has been reversed. I am the one who is asked the personal questions, the difficult to answer questions. And it is funny in a way, because now, all of my friends' questions are always followed up with "you don't have to answer".

So far, I have always answered - I am okay with sharing information, thoughts and most things within reasonable bounds. I hope that this would mean we get closer, and they get to have an insight of the person that is at my core. I am pretty certain I get judged (come on), but it is always nice to find that they still love me anyway.

I reckon we should try this more often.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

On what love is

You know, during the rare times that I spend sometime with a real writer, he/she would always go "you should write that in your blog". I am waiting for the day that these people would just use "you should blog that". Kidding.

Amongst the plethora of things that I was talking about, the one topic that people love to discuss is this concept called love. At the most basic level, we have an idea of what love is, that thing you feel, you know. BUT the definition of love is often very subjective. Forget the bible temporarily and think about how you define love.

Now that I think about it, quite a lot of fights that I had with my exes were about their definition of love, which do not overlap with mine. I blame this on the fact that I am a Sagittarius (I don't do horoscopes, really, but I do find the description of Sagittarius almost fits me perfectly, so I go by the label to just make conversations easier). I have this inherent need for this thing called freedom.

This subsequently mean that I do not respond well to the sort of love that requires a high degree of obsession. The kind of people who say "if you love me, then you should not do A,B,C etc". I get that there are boundaries in any relationship, but I don't think these boundaries can be enforced in this way. My parents play this game all the time - well, to be fair, not all three of them. I wonder how I am going to be as a parent, if I am ever blessed enough to be one.

I think love is often confused with possession. I subscribe to the school of thought that to love does not always equal to owning something. I think love is waaayy bigger than that. To limit love to possession is selfish and restricting. Case in point, I love designer handbags. Who can make skulls as cool as McQueen? I do not own a single McQueen clutch, despite loving them so desperately. Just because I don't have it does not mean that I don't love it. The same deal with people. I love a lot of people in this life, and it does not mean that I have to "own" them, as in I have to have them (in the animal, primate sense). I much prefer that we are friends, of course, and for them to be comfortable in the knowledge and the fact that I do love them (because what is love is not shared with the object of love itself). BUT I don't want to own them and I don't want them to own me.

I may be delusional in subscribing to this school of thought. I may be the odd one out. I may be alone in all of this. It is ok. This works for me, for now.

I don't regret every single one of relationship or even friendship that I had that did not last a life time, partly because of fundamental differences in definitions of concepts and boundaries of what love is. In fact, I am thankful that I no longer have to put up with people who cannot even respect my point of view or even worse, dismissing it just because of my age. No more of that.

I believe in the freedom to choose and the freedom to respect. I am happy to respect everyone insofar as they are worth respecting. (Some people do these things that make it really hard for me to respect them - such as, for example, people who promise they will do A, and you count of them on this, and they end up doing Z for no apparent reason aside from the fact that they don't feel like doing A any more as it is more convenient for them, irrespective of the fact that you were counting them do to A).

Respecting people means respecting their subjective opinions on how they view the world and how certain things mean to them. In turn, I'd like to have the same kind of respect - but I get that not everyone is like me, so the fact that I respect others do not always translate to them respecting me back. That is a risk that I have to take to be the person that I am.

So this was the long version of the conversation that I had on Friday night, with too much wine and too much fun. Talking is so much fun when one is drunk.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A reflection on human relationships

I spent yesterday with two of my favourite people in this planet. It is no secret that I play favourites all the time. Simply put, there are people that I love spending time with (which also happen to be the people I love) and there are those who are pretty much a pain to spend time with (which also happen to be the people that I'd rather not spend time with). 

 Why do I do this? My time in this life is limited and I'd like to maximise my pleasure of living. One of the ways that I do this is to maximise the time that I spend with the people I want to spend time with and minimise the time with people that I don't want to spend time with. I get irritated when I plan to spend time with someone I want to spend time with, who brings along a friend or two (complete strangers to me). There are many times that I am tempted to cancel once I find out about the arrangement, but often these things are sprung on me at the very last minute such that I don't have time to cancel. 


What I really want to write is that there are people that I don't like spending time with - and there is nothing I can do about this. I say that because really, liking someone or not is something very subjective. A person can be very popular and loved by everyone else, but if it so happens that I am of view and he/she is phony, then of course I don't have any problem differing from the crowd. It is rather unfortunate that some (or a lot) of charming people in this planet can come off as phony, you know all those people who are all about style and no substance. And it is even more unfortunate that those who've got substance are severely lacking in style, because these people have got a lot more to give (and subsequently teach). 

Out of the two, the former is a lot worse than the latter. With the latter group, spending a little more time would enable you to see their real charm, and or at least, appreciate their substance a lot more than you originally do. Yet at times, given their lack of style, holding a conversation with them can be so incredibly painful. I know because I have tried this too many times with too many people. 

Some of my friends call me talkative and feisty - I always have an opinion about anything and everything, usually very detailed and covering all aspects that anyone can think of. Yet most of the time, I don't really share this during my conversations, unless they are with the people that I like. Because I can't be bothered sharing this part of myself with strangers. It is rather ironic that I am a lot more open here in the blog. I don't have an explanation for this, except for the fact that... I just can't be bothered. 

Actually, it is not that I can't be bothered expressing my opinions. It is more that I can't be bothered justifying them or arguing them especially when all these-strangers-to-me have differing views. I don't see the onus to be on me to be able to reconcile our differences. In fact, I'd rather not reconcile because the reconciliation is often something that says something about the person with the opinions (I am judgmental like that). 

It really is not my issue that there are people out there more open minded than me and vice versa. I also don't think it is worth while to pursue this abstract state of having a more open mind - this often requires tolerance, and I think too much tolerance in one's life is a guaranteed one way ticket to misery. Because there is this thing as tolerating too much - which often comes in the form of suppressed anger. Anger is necessary so that we can grow and we can improve. 

These days I am very selective as to who I spend my time with. The craziest development to date is that I much rather spend time with a friend over online interaction rather than a stranger in a real life situation. I think this is a sign of a change in the way we interact. I would be the first to say that if it is your friends that you are interacting with, the medium of interaction takes secondary importance. It is a pretty good substitute for physical proximity with them.