Monday, February 25, 2008

Picking up the Pieces

Ok, I admit it.

I've let myself go to pieces in the last four weeks - the longest four weeks of my life, believe you me.

A friend and mentor at a school today was discussing a book she's been reading by writer Elizabeth Gilbert entitled Eat, Pray, Love - which is from what I gather basically her autobiographical journey of self-discovery travelling the world after her marriage failed.

And it seems after you get from Italy to India, it dawns on the reader that you've just been suckered into spending a few hours of your life reading somebody else's total self-indulgence!

I drew an instant parallel. Granted, my marriage is going strong, and unlike Elizabeth Gilbert I have a kid who is a million miles too far away for my liking. But still, I realized that this cannot go on. I'm wasting my own time, and I'm wasting the time of friends who are getting concerned about me reading this blog.

To commemorate my coming out of self-indulgent catharsis, last night, I spent 3 hours giving the whole apartment a good scrub, including the bathroom, which is basically long overdue since I reached here. Of course, what took me so long to clean a small 2-bedroom apartment was because I was also watching the Oscars on TV!

(George Clooney is unbelievably good-looking. And Daniel Day-Lewis, what an actor, and what a poet in real life. Best thank-you speech by far.)

Today, continuing in my streak of productivity, I finished an essay not due till Thursday, went to the gym for half an hour on the treadmill and attended a 45-minute Mat Pilates class.

And I did my laundry.

Hooray! It feels SO GOOD - to have a clean and fresh-smelling little home, freshly laundered and neatly folded and hung up clothes, food in the fridge for a couple more days.

On the flip side, I've completely lost the ability to sleep.

After talking to Dylan on Skype usually till past midnight, I do a bit of quiet time, loiter about till near 2am before turning the lights off.

By 5am, my senses start coming alive again even though my eyelids stay intently shut, cursing myself for being up too early. I toss and turn, turn and toss until I give up trying to redeem lost sleep at 7am.

And the cycle starts again.

If I don't get more sleep tonight, first thing tomorrow I'm going to CVS to get some over the counter sleeping pills.

Friday, February 15, 2008


It's funny how the weather here reflects the swings in my moods. Sunny and spring-ey one day, and then cold and windy the next, and snow and gloom the next.

Ok. So on House, Gregory House asks his staff the riddle -

"You build a house with a window facing the North, and it's all white outside. A bear walks past the window, what color is he?"

The answer? White. You're in the North Pole, and you're seeing a polar bear.

And just by that, the penny drops. The patient is suffering from bipolar disorder! DUHH.

This REALLY only happens on television. But it did make me think about my own condition here too. Swinging from the frenetic pace of school, dashing from classes to cooking dinner, to positive depression at night. Maybe I'm bipolar.

See, I'm fine in the day, mostly. Once I get going in the morning, I can do gym, do classes, do assignments, no problem.

When evening comes, the pace screeches to a halt. Evening after-dinnertime finds this gal slouching in front of the TV, unable to tear her eyes away from Jon & Kate plus 8 - which incidentally is a real-life TV show about a man and a wife and their EIGHT kids from TWO pregnancies.

(Yup, you heard me right - a set of twins, and three years later, a set of sextuplets - 3 boys and 3 girls. The kids are BEAUTIFUL - a mix of pan-asian from the dad and caucasian from the mom.)

And all I can do is live vicariously through their daily grind of coping with the mostly screaming, shitting, crying, and sometimes unbelievably adorable troop, and wishing with all of my might that for just a few minutes a day I can be back to being mom and wife again.

A friend advised me to try to enjoy this period of bacheloresshood, if there ever is such a word. But after you go through 9 months growing a person inside you, and then experiencing the sheer joys and frustrations brought by this person, I find myself unable to understand, unable to reverse my identity, unable to feel like I'm single again.

It just seems to go against every grain, every fibre of my being to be alone here. To tear the labels "mom" and "wife" from me is to leave a gaping hole right through the middle of me.

Forcing the hands of the clock, coming here alone to study is turning me back into a non-mom and non-wife again. Like some bad dream of being caught in a time warp, this feels unnatural and terrible - I'm back to being an undergrad in London again. Just 10 years older.

The hours pass by in the evenings and weekends slowly. I'm trying to count down the time, trying to go out and have fun with friends and acquaintances. Make the best of the situation. And yes, when I am out, it does help.

But alone in my room, the empty nest syndrome returns far too prematurely (considering it's what people feel AFTER their children grow up and leave the nest, right?).

So that's it. I've decided - I'm decidedly bipolar. And will be until equilibrium is established again - with husband by my side, and kid in tow.

Some pictures my little excursion to Harvard Yard today with the ladies from MOE and Contact Singapore.

Shirley, Joyi & I

J. noticed that we all have our hair parted on the same side... now what are the odds!
Ladies in Harvard Yard


A simple joy that I've been indulging in - to the detriment of my waistline, is going out for a good meal with friends.

Yesterday being Valentine's Day, the girls from L&L found a place in Boston where ladies got to bowl for free, so I decided to join in the fun.

At King's Bowl, I ordered an eggplant, portabello mushroom and goat cheese tortilla wrap for dinner, and was inordinately stuffed. My friends each ordered an alcoholic drink (or 2) but I thought I should just stay away from the alcohol. My friend Tamra then handed out stickers - a letter "S" if you were single, and a letter "M" if you were married. No points for guessing which sticker I ended up sticking on myself!

Cate & I

a little under-exposed, but you get the idea how dimly lit the place is!
Allison, Tamra & Heather

Last week being Chinese New Year, the Singaporeans also rounded up to have dinner. I had dinner with two groups of friends over two nights, but silly me I only remembered to take photos during the second night. We gathered because as Singaporeans any excuse to go out to eat good food is excuse enough to meet up! Also, having each others' company over this festive period sure beats spending it alone at home moping.
CNY Dinner 1
CNY Dinner 3Esther, Mary, YX

Friday, February 08, 2008

In the Meantime... A Rat's Year

When you are so far away from home, any news from home provides welcome reprieve.

From a creeping sense of desolation being transplanted so far away from the familiar, and from people so near and dear to us.

News also brings that sense of wonder that a whole year has passed us by so very quickly. I remember last year CNY being a festival spent sorta in a blur as we adjusted to being new parents of something still so very little and tender. And me wondering how this little person will ever grow to be strong and significant.

And now, a year later, we're looking at a tough little guy whom I am told is quite capable of holding his own even among aunties and uncles without the benefit of mommy, daddy, or even granny and grampa being around.

How fast they grow!

So while I endure another bout of snow and sub-zero temperatures, family back at home is spending time together, travelling up to Segamat, and enjoying fireworks that are a rare and would-be illegal treat in Singapore.

Brave Christy
Christy the Brave

My darling nieces and nephew (minus baby Ryan and baby ??? still in Alice's tummy)
The Chen kiddies

Fredrik and Sara, who are a year apart in age
Fredrik & Sara (Liang Deh dozin')

A couple of days before CNY, the little guy spent quality time with another set of grandparents:

Monday, February 04, 2008

Warmer Days

Cambridge has been seeing warmer days, and since the last post the snow and ice that covered almost every square inch of roof, river, and ground has melted away.

On some afternoons, the sun can be so brilliant that just being outdoors and watching the way the light bounces off the streets just takes my breath away.

This mommy is homesick, and missing her little one. But God reminds me, through these simple reflections and experiences, that He ever so near, ever so present.

Remember how Charles River looked under snow? Well, look again.

View of Week's Bridge:
view of week's bridge

Memorial Drive - against the brilliant mid-morning sun:
sunshine 2

And how it looked couple of weeks ago:
scraggly trees.JPG

Meantime, little Dylan had a mini-field trip to the local Thai Express and Haagen Daz to see his friends, thanks to Uncle Mian and Aunty Mei who relieved grandma and grandpa of Dylan for a couple of hours on Sunday. Photos courtesy of Joyce's hp.

with baby Laura

At Haagen Daz (3 Feb)

Oh how I hope these temperatures will persist. I think I've had quite enough of winter already.