Thursday, March 23, 2006

A not bad day

First, I made it all through the day at work without falling asleep in flu-drugged oblivion.

Then, I got to go to the brother and sister-in-law's place, mainly to see Mudslide but also because it's nice to just visit with one's siblings, isn't it? Yummm... apple crumble with butterscotch sauce doth sweeten one's lips so much. Ta, people!

As you gather, I had dinner there. When all I was supposed to do was stop by and play with a furry cat for half an hour, then pick up something simple for dinner on the way home. Ended up eating assam fish and four-angled beans on rice, instead. Oooh wait, that wasn't quite the end; the end was the apple crumble. Mmmm. Apple crumble.

And every now and then, I would call Mudslide out of whatever dark corner she had crawled into, and get her to roll over so I could hear some purrs, and when she slunk back into the corner I would have another bite of apple crumble.

Did I mention that was really, really tasty apple crumble?

Note to self: Must learn how to bake more things than just bread-and-butter pudding made out of last week's crusts.

And to make the day extra sweet, I picked up the copy of The Blue Day Book that Pink chi-chi got me during her last trip to Houston. How many people have two families' worth of nice people caring for them? I am blessed.

Then upon reaching home I almost collapsed in gratitude when I realised I'd been driving with an expired road tax sticker for over a month, but that's a story for another day.

Mudslide does cute

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The hardest story I've had to live

I sent in two entries to a story contest about cancer, and both were shortlisted to be winners. Unfortunately, the contest rules stated that one person can only win one prize. Phooey. Well actually, not phooey, because I knew this from the beginning and I didn't join the contest for the prizes anyway.

I think the organisers got it right in deciding not to announce the winners in reverse sequence as if it were the Oscars. I like the way winners of the big prizes were announced side by side with winners of the not-so-big prizes. Unfortunately, this meant I had to do the gracious beauty pageant runner-up thing when I turned out not to be the grand prize winner. You know, reflex hug, air kiss on both sides, fan frantically at eye area to stop mascara from running... Nyah uh! Not on your life! It was all I could do to keep from smacking the winner on the back because she was so flippin' inspiring! However, I do know my own strength and didn't want to send her spinning across the room like the Tasmanian Devil so I gave her a genteel smile and light pat on the back.

Take a couple o' minutes to read the prizewinning entries
here, you won't regret it.

And if you want to read mine special... sniff... sniff... aww you're so sweet! You really do? I mean, really really? All right, here you go... read the full versions on the organiser's website, ya hear?

Excerpt from "My Mother's Victory" (the one that officially won)
"I believe [my mother] won the battle against cancer. She died surrounded by people who loved her. Cancer may have destroyed her body, and numerous medical procedures weakened it, but the experience of those two years only strengthened her spirit. She made her peace with God weeks before she died, while her mind was still lucid and unaffected by pain-relieving drugs. She left an immeasurable legacy, the memory of her colourful and vibrant personality, which will remain with her family and friends as long as we live. Cancer may have shortened her life, but it cannot diminish its influence over those of others who knew her and who hear her story. That was and is my mother’s victory."

Excerpt from "Seven Ways to Help Someone You Love Deal with Cancer" (the other one)
"Ever hear the story about the dinner party which went on all night with an uninvited pink elephant seated in the room the whole time? The large pachyderm ate, drank, squirted water and snot out its trunk at guests and left large “packages” around the room, but everyone was too polite to state the facts. That this intruder was making a significant mess of things, that it would take some effort to get rid of it, and that they would be glad to help the host to get rid of it in any way possible.

"Cancer can be a pink elephant of sorts – until the host (patient) decides to come clean and talk about it. Don’t deny your loved one his or her need to share the questions, doubts, fears and hopes that will arise after the diagnosis. The rare times that my mother spoke of her disease to me, I could tell she was touched that I never tried to change the subject but just listened. Never underestimate the value of a sympathetic, listening ear."

Click the link above to get to the full stories!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Speaking damage

Recently, I was at a Christian event where the speaker recounted a painful event in his youth when someone passed an insensitive comment about his appearance. He didn't look at his image in the mirror for 2 or 3 years, I forget which.

What I found disturbing was when he concluded the story with the statement that from then on, he has made it a point never to pass comments on another person's appearance, people laughed. When he elaborated that this is because you never know what damage you'll cause with your comments, they laughed again.

Now, I have made fun of someone else's acne before. I was a little brat, maybe about 8 or 9 at the most. I regretted it when I was a little older, maybe because by then I had to deal with acne myself. Now that I'm quite a lot older, I regret it because it was just plain ugly, having a laugh at the expense of another person's feelings.

But the audience at this event were mostly adults. Well-educated adults. Groomed, successful, eloquent. Those whom I know, I like a lot. Shouldn't they know better?

The powerful tongue
It made me wonder, how many of us actually care what effects our spoken words will cause? King Solomon said once that life and death are in the power of the tongue, and they didn't name him the wisest man ever for nothing.

Malaysians in particular, I think, are good at saying what they think, and hang the consequences. Why else do you hear people telling children they've just met, children they don't even know, "Wah, so fat lah you, you like eating a lot, ah?" Or the infamous "Why you don't eat [fried chicken; chocolate; peanuts, etc]? Scared of pimples ah? Ya lor, oily skin like you, better be careful."

Did I somehow miss a memo that was passed round, giving all of us free licence to say whatever we please about anyone we like?

We're supposed to be civilised. Could we maybe learn to let up on each other and give up the childish tendency to make remarks about an acquaintance's skin/body size/dressing/eating habits unless we're actually asked for our opinions?

'I'm not going to feel ugly all by myself!'
Sadly enough, I think, the real reason why so many Malaysians feel they must make negative comments about other people is that it's the only way they can feel good about themselves. Somewhere along the way, our society has failed to make known that it's all right to be and love yourself, warts and all.

Maybe if every single person in the country, from the auntie who sweeps leaves off the road to the big deal corporate director, knew how beautiful and unique he or she was, we'd all just be a lot happier.

And social occasions would be much more fun because we'd know that nobody was going to remark that we'd gained weight since coming back from overseas, or suggest a special face cleanser to get rid of blackheads.
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