Heidi's Pensieve

Welcome to my pensieve, certainly not as world-saving as Dumbledore's, definitely not as tortured as Snape's. Just some thoughts swirling around me head that I like to withdraw and leave here to moil around.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Being Friends With Your Ex

A friend of mine, Eddie is on the best terms with his ex-girlfriend Nicole. Or vice versa. I should write the above sentence this way: Nicole is on the best terms with her ex-boyfriend Eddie. They are very good friends despite breaking up, seeing other people and eventually marrying other people. They are such friends that when one or the other has a problem or is in trouble, they look to each other for help.

I am amazed and full of admiration (and not a little envy) at how two people could continue to be close friends after breaking up. My admiration stems from
1. they must have broken up in a very gentleman-like way. Civilized, no acrimony, no recriminations.
2. they themselves must be pretty matured in their outlook to be civilized about the breakup, yet, still have the basic decency to care for the other as a true friend might.

My husband may not have such a friendly relationship with his ex-girlfriends as Eddie and Nicole, neverthless, he could meet any of his ex-es in a pretty friendly way. He could cheek-kiss them, hug them, enquire solicituously after their welfare (and not be given the cold shoulder).

I am filled with envy because I don't have that relationship with any of my ex-es. I'd rather not meet them and if I do accidentally bump into them, it's awkwardness all around. I am filled with anxiety about this seeming deficiency in myself:
1. Did I break up badly with them? Damn, the answer is Yes.
2. Am I not matured enough or do I not have enough decency to care what has become of them in their lives apart from me? The answer?




No comments.

I am reminded of a quarrel I had with one of my ex-boyfriends (when he wasn't an ex, of course.) We had been invited to a wedding party, he turned it down when he found out his ex-girlfriend would be there. When I asked why, he said he didn't want to hurt her by showing himself with another woman. I couldn't understand that line of reasoning, I still don't today, 24 years later. He then accused me of cruel intentions, that I wanted to thumb my nose over her loss.

Therefore, with this particular ex of mine, I think I'm quite justified in not wanting to meet again...so as not to be cruel to him!

Friday, December 2, 2011


From my private journal:

15 February 2008, 6:00am, Changi Airport, Returning from Washington D.C.

You know you are homesick when the sight of the uniform of the air-stewardesses of the national carrier makes you feel aaaaaah....I'm home!
The last time I felt so was when I returned after 3 months in Sydney (1 October 2006). The first step off the connecting bridge onto KLIA, I felt this overpowering urge to drop to my knees and kiss Malaysian soil! (I didn't but I wish I had the guts to.) 

My Patriotism

From my private journal:

13 March 2008

Never believed the day would come when I would be less than patriotic or harbour thoughts of leaving Malaysia and making my home outside Malaysia.

The recent election (the 12th on 8/3/08) found me voting against the ruling party - something that caused twinges of alarm and mini klaxons on my "moral compass". I had steadfastly resisted the call to vote against, countering and arguing vociferously that if we all did that, then, the opposition might win and all the success and development achieved thus far might be reversed 5, 10 or 15 years. Better the known evil than the unknown who is also inexperienced. An inexperienced government with the best intentions could cause even more evil - well, that is my belief.

And then a chance encounter on the day before election. I took a bus back from Melaka and somehow or other, Larry couldn't fetch me from the Shah Alam bus station. So I jumped into a cab and the taxi driver - a Malay Pak Haji - was on a crusade! He was loquacious, he was persuasive, he assured me he was ultra patriotic, he had voted for BN all his life and by virtue of his advanced age, three times more than I had and in the end he convinced me that if I truly love my country I must vote against this time so as to "wake up" the ruling party. He promised me we could go back to voting for BN at the next election. To my argument of "what if we plunge our country into chaos?", he said, "We will have to trust in God - don't we worship the same God?"

Against huge misgivings, I followed his advice and the subsequent results - the ruling party lost control for the first time 4 power states - a shock, a wake-up call.

I was worried, I was concerned amidst the jubilation and celebrations of people around me.

But the justifications, the blames and the excuses of the affected politicians in the following days, to date, have so disenchanted me I'm toying with the idea of migrating -although not to a western country.

NB:I was only toying with the idea. I'm still Anak Malaysia. I don't see any value in being anything but Malaysian. HOT, 28 October 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Come First, Again

People Who Won't Smile In Return

 I was born a solemn and serious person. I hardly bothered to smile at anyone or the camera.

At 2 1/2, I acquired a new brother. From the day he was born, Harry was one cheerful and happy person. He was always smiling, chuckling, laughing. When he was able to talk, he would be making jokes just to get people around him to laugh. I was immune and he therefore degressed to playing practical pranks on me which made me even more grumpy.

But at 15, I decided I would try his formula of "Smile and the world smiles with you". I soon found that smiling was a great device to
1) get your own way whether your way was right or wrong
1.1) Even when your way was right but if you approached it with a frown, people tend to give you a harder time but when you smile, it greased the way
1.2) If your way wasn't quite right, smiling got things done first, consequences later.

2) make more friends
2.1) people tend to think you're a nice person just because you smiled
2.2) people think you're a cold and aloof person if you don't smile
2.3) actually, at 15, I wasn't too concerned about having more friends or winning the popularity contest. Even at that age, I believed in quality rather than quantity. Nevertheless I found it useful to not be thought of as cold and aloof. Especially among my mother's friends and acquaintances, as in when they comment such illogical things to my mother: "Ooh, your daughter is so kind. She's always smiling."

Such comments always made me want to rush out and tie some fire-crackers to the tail of some stray dog or inflict some other cruelty, or do some big evil so that I could come back and keep smiling and be called kind. I knew I was kind even when I wasn't a smiling person. But the world wants to be misled. "Don't smile, and the world thinks there's something wrong with you." Maybe you have something to hide, maybe you're a bad person with evil thoughts.

After 31 years of following Harry's formula, smiling is a habit with me now. Of course I am very conscious that the smiling person I meet for the first time might be a serial murderer while the unsmiling one might instead be the sensitive saint or angel.

But there are certain unsmiling people that I cannot abide.

People who just might be lost in thought but seem to be staring rudely at you. So maybe you turn around and catch their eye and maybe give them a little smile of "Hey, you're staring, but its ok. I've also done that before." But no, they don't return your smile. They turn away. They don't even seem to look mortified. These people set my teeth on edge. These unsmiling people cannot possibly be a saint or angel in disguise. They are the height of rudeness personified.

I have vowed to myself that the next person to do that will get the following piece of "lecture" from me. I will walk up to him or her and say: "Excuse me, haven't you ever been taught that it is rude to stare? You were staring at me and when I turned around and saw you and smiled at you, the least you could do is smile back instead of turning away. Sure, I understand that you might be lost in your thoughts or under pressure or have some stress, but would it kill you to smile in return, especially when you have been unconsciously rude?"

Last week I met a second type of people-who-won't-smile-in-return and I've been exhausting all possible excuses, justifications and scenarios for why she wouldn't return my smile, so I offer this encounter to you. Maybe you could come up with another angle.

I've been feeding the family of stray cats in my neighborhood for some time and have noticed that somebody else has also been caring for them. I asked the security guard about it and he told me that a lady drove around the blocks, leaving cat food at various spots every evening, come rain or not. I was so impressed and wanted to meet this kind soul. I always think that a person who spends time, money and effort in feeding stray cats and dogs must be a good person. Just like I think that a dog person or a cat person cannot be a bad person. If one loves cats or dogs, they must be nice people. (Ahem, I'm not referring to meself.)

So there I was, manouvering to meet this kind soul who has been feeding the neighborhood strays. Finally I caught her in the act. I walked towards her with the most brilliant smile pasted on my mug, when, lo and behold, she took one look at me, neither acknowledged me with a nod nor returned my smile, but walked away leaving me standing flabbergasted, perplexed, awkward, crushed. I was so shocked I didn't even think of hailing her. I just stood there looking at her retreating back.

Now, which part of my smile or demeanor made me look like the neighbor that was going to give her grief? I went home soberly, looked in the mirror and re-enacted my smile, just to see if maybe, I looked like a deranged cat food thief or some vile thing the cat dragged in.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pride and Self-Reliance

I was taught to be independent, to be self-reliant, to stand on my own two feet.

Then I attended a seminar where I was taught that I must ask for help. From games or, to give it its proper seminar name: learning activities entitled "The Market Will Always Give You What You Want, All You Gotta Do Is Ask" to lectures to the effect of "not asking is equivalent to pride", I was confronted with a view so opposed to the self-reliant value passed down through generations of my working class ancestors and which I have adopted as one of the points in my personal moral compass.

And then I contrast this conundrum with what the Bible teaches: "Ask and ye shall receive." And "Ye have not, because ye ask not." Something I could reel off the top of my head but something I don't quite practise. Sure I pray and sure I request stuff from God but I usually ask for the mild, the possibles, the usuals. I don't really think of asking for the biggies, the impossibles, the extravagant, the all-out extraordinary, the over-the-top ones. Not because I doubted God would grant them to me, but it felt so grasping, so greedy, so not independent, not self-reliant. It felt like I'm some lazy bum, sitting around doing nothing for myself and instead asking for blessings. I thought "Wasn't there another saying that God helps those who help themselves?" Now I know I'm definitely mixing metaphors and taking texts out of context.

Since that seminar, I have been led to attend and listen to some inspired sermons on Matthew 7:7 to the effect that our Heavenly Father delights in hearing our requests and blessing us with what we asks. So now, on top of knowing this intellectually, I believe with my soul, nevertheless, in my heart of hearts, I'm still, well, Doubting Thomas. Not all the way doubting, but chary of over-asking. I still have to jolly myself, talk myself in and out and out and in and around and in between before I could ask for a biggie.

And now we come to interpersonal asking. As in people to people asking.

Do you run out and ask for help of your fellow travellers of this life everytime you need help? Or because you don't ask for help and try to get yourself out of some muddle all by yourself, you are to be accused as proud?

I had a raging argument with MOH (My Other Half, as opposed to MBH - My Better Half, the term he uses to refer to me, see yesterday's blog about that) because he accused my brothers of pride for not asking us for help. I countered that we were brought up to be self-reliant. He accused me of the same tendencies once upon a time and nowadays some of the time. I raged that it beats running around looking for handouts and begging begging without a smidgen of self-effort first before disturbing people around you.

Who's right? Who's wrong? Is it pride or is it self-reliance?

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Better Half

What do husbands mean when they refer to their wives as "My Better Half"?

A. Clever bit of political sweet-talk. Keeping the homefront in a good mood, on a jolly note, buttering up the wifey

B. In lieu of payment for peaceful and cheerful home front

C. Synonym for "My Long-suffering Spouse". Can't possibly say that, else people might think you a bad-tempered, grouchy SOB.

D. False modesty and a bit of Reverse Psychology. As in, when you introduce your wife as "My Better Half", people eventually realised that it's a misnomer and you are the real better half.

E. Pride of possession. That somebody like you could attract and convince into marriage somebody as intelligent as your better half

F. Politically correct term to use in relation to your spouse. Everybody's using it, so you better jump on the bandwagon before your wife takes you to task.

Now guys, if you refer to your wives as "My Better Half", and insist that your reason is "None of the Above", you truly mean that your spouse is better than you, would it be correct for your wives to refer to you as "My Worse Half"? Or "My Lesser Half"?

My husband insists that I am his better intellectually, spiritually, technologically, electronically and technically. (Though I'm not a technological whiz, I'm better than him in things technological. And in our household, I'm the handyman - I change the bulbs, the fuse, the plugs, I hook up all the electronic equipment, I could troubleshoot any household malfunction.) So then, should I then refer to him as MISTETWH (My Intellectually, Spiritually, Technologically, Electronically and Technically Worse Half)? Oops, sounds like "mistake" spoken with a lisp.