Monthly Archives: February 2010

Not so innocent

I like fantasy novels as long as they are not too far fetched. DragonLance and Resident Evil are good. (On a sidenote, i am so proud to own the entire series of Resident Evil. *Smug smirk* Hah. I have been searching high and low for them in every bookshop over two countries but no bookshop was good enough to stock up on the entire series. I was adamant about buying singular copies. In the end i just got the whole set off Amazon. No, i am not re-selling them. I will leave them for my great grandkids and great great grandkids!)

Anyway i was tempted to buy the Twilight series but the second movie was so off-putting i had second thoughts. I flipped through a couple of pages when i was at the bookshop and that just made up my mind for me. However, i have heard rave reviews about the Sookie Stackhouse series, so i bought the boxed set of eight volumes.

It really isn’t as innocent as it seems. The novels packed so much sex in each slim volume, it can put authors like Sandra Brown and [insert your favourite author here, cos’ it’s obvious i don’t read that many novels that pack such as sex punches] to shame. That morning, i whipped the book out on the morning train to read. The details were so torrid i could feel the first stirrings of a flush appearing on my cheeks and neck, and i do not blush easily. I had to hastily switch to The Economist because i was so embarrassed. My God.

I don’t even know what is the appeal of the novels. It is supposedly a cross between a mystery and fantasy. The suspense is not engaging; the fantasy makes me go “Huh?” and the romance is just…cheap. But why do i persist in reading???

Weight

A few days ago, i went for my weekly personal training sessions. I was not feeling well; in fact i had several bouts of diarrhea (thanks to the lamb i baked for dinner). However, i think there would be too much explaining to do if i canceled the lesson since i also forfeited a lesson the week before (due to mental fatigue). So i rocked up for the session. The problem with me is that i never look sick when i am feeling sick.

I seemed to be getting fitter since i got through a lot more reps than in previous sessions, or maybe it was added motivation because i was starting to not just feel fat, but look fat too. I started perspiring. Beads of sweat dotted my temples. And i started to suffer some reflux. Very bad. My trainer looked alarmed.

“You never sweat. You really are sick!” he exclaimed.

We stopped a couple of minutes early and my trainer started making me do lighter weights instead. With some free time, i weighed myself. Bad move. I have gained weight. I do not believe it is muscles. True, i can see i am stronger since i can do more reps with heavier weights without giving up halfway, but i honestly do not think mere weights can make me put on more weight on top of the weight that i did not lose from my competitive Judo days SIX years ago. So now i am dismayed and unnerved. I need to do something about this.

I have actually started looking at BJJ classes and even turned up for one. But the training was so slack (the students training did not even break into a sweat till the last fifteen minutes when they started sparring), i felt that it was a waste of both my money and time. Anyway, there is another club closer to home that i am looking into. Hopefully i get to observe one class on Monday. The problem with being a former competitive martial artist is that i am used to highly intense training and i have come to expect that from all training. Hence i am hoping that this club will be pushing its students, as advertised on its website. It is a one hour class, surely something constructive will be taught and applied??

Role model

Many donkey years ago, a friend wrote a quote on her blog that i can’t quite remember off the top of my head, but it ran along the lines of some friends lasting for a season, others coming and going, and there are some that came for a reason.

I have never realized that i unconsciously choose role models in my life to learn from, but now that i really think back about it; it does explain the many ups and downs of my Life and even the great endless confusion that i sometimes find myself in.

Now that i have reconciled that fact with myself, i have also understood that role models are not saints and they do have bad points just like myself. They are still human. And it is when i discovered their finer less admirable points that i became overwhelmingly disappointed and even more perplexing, sad.

This quote keeps surfacing from the depths of my memory. Some people come and go, others stay for a reason. I guess i have exhausted many role models over my life, and the most recent one has just came to the end of its shelf life. I can learn no more from that person. A few people whom i have placed on high pedestals and who came crashing down; i still remain very close too. But there are also the ones where irreversible damage had been done to our friendships and we remain on terms more formal than strangers. It is just the way of Life. I have also long ago accepted that.

And yet there is one more thing in store for me. I also understand now that people who appear marvellous and brilliant on first sight aren’t really so. They are just more adept at concealing their weaknesses. And if you observe closely, these weaknesses will always trickle out under the most ordinary of circumstances. You just need to pay attention.

Now that things have been cleared up for me, i feel much happier and brighter. 🙂

The clear link of evolution

I have been spending the past few days in the special care nursery. I have never seen a newborn up close, let alone carry one. The first baby i scrutinized was a pair of twins in the incubators. Premature babies. I stared in fascination at their tiny toes and fingers, that these creatures actually move! They don’t just lie there and vegetate like plants and then miraculously start holding themselves up and crawling all over the place. I was astonished to see their tiny nails. I know they have nails, but i mean really??? These babies writhe, they open their eyes and frown, they emit high pitch cries that sound like cats’ meows (which reminded me of the Cri du chat syndrome. I remember this syndrome because a lecturer in pre-clinical years mentioned it in passing and i was thinking to myself that all small babies seem to cry like cats anyway, so why the distinction?).

Then my friend who has much more experience in handling babies picked up one, cuddled it and handed it to me. Clearly i needed to start getting comfortable with carrying babies if i ever wanted to learn how to examine one. To be honest, my first try was more of a lift then a carry. I was hugely surprised to discover how light the neonate was. In fact my dumbbells which i use to practice my biceps curls are probably heavier. I stared at the baby. It writhed a little and then it gave a deep frown of displeasure, squeezed its face and started crying. I stared at the yowling bundle with increasing panic. Its face grew redder and redder, almost like a tomato, and i thought that i was looking at Pemberton’s sign in real time. I wondered whether it will suffocate itself. I gazed at my friend stupidly, who at this time was urging me to cradle or do whatever it takes to make the kid stop wailing. Finally she took the baby back in exasperation and amazement at my lack of babying skills and calmed the kid down. It was…wow, i don’t know. Babies are so small but so powerful.

We made our rounds of the wards looking and pacifying (and of course a lot of handwashing with the alcohol solution, so much so my hands were dry and i started bracing myself for the sting in areas where my skin probably wore thin. My own imagination of course) the babies. I saw a lot of small babies, mostly premature neonates. They were tiny and i finally understood (and accepted) that one can fit inside a person. Anyway, one of the babies was incredibly irritable. It scrunched up its face and started emitting a high-pitched cry. I gawked at it for a split second, and then just could not help myself, i burst out laughing. My friend stared at me in disbelief.

“Oh my God, it looks just like a baby monkey!” i spluttered. Seriously a lot of the younger babies reminded me of the baby monkeys i saw back in Thailand when i was a child. The resemblance was earth-shattering.

“You are crazy,” my friend muttered, but she too could not help smiling.

I told my housemate who had done her pediatrics rotation. She gasped and told me it will be the worst thing to tell any parent (duh!) but admitted she thought the same thing.

This peds rotation is turning out to be more fun than i first anticipated!

What number are you?

I saw a baby recently. You do not need a medical degree to notice that something was wrong. His face was not right. But he was cute and he was quiet and he smiled whenever i put my stethoscope gently on his chest. Which made me kind of sad at the same time, because that means he has been in hospital most of his life and he is very accustomed to such procedures. He is not even three months old. Barely into his first week of life, he required minor surgery to fix some of his more pressing facial congenital abnormality.

He has Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) but it was not immediately obvious as he has a host of other problems. I attempted to take a history but his mum knew very little English. I gestured and asked how many children did she have. She frowned and said, “Seven or nine?” I stared at her thinking that she must have misunderstood my question and then trying to think to myself what kind of question would her answers warranted. She started counting on her fingers, and i know she heard me. Now i wondered whether it is ever possible to forget how many children you have.

“Nine”, she smiled and said.

I grinned uncertainly back. She looked young but now i know she isn’t.

I looked at the baby and i wondered whether he was an accident. Maybe the contraception did not work? How would Life pan out for an unwanted child, and one with a definite developmental delay and intellectual disability? I could feel a sigh welling up inside me and i suppressed it.

I played with the child, he didn’t cry. He was incredibly good-natured. For once, i did not feel an urgency to leave the patient, and i do wonder if i had finally found my niche? I saw the mother lovingly cleaned him and touched him. I saw her smile when he smiled, heard her crooned softly to her child in their native tongue. She loved him, despite the huge burden he will be. She loved him even though the pregnancy was unplanned. And i just looked because i realized something else is at play, something i cannot understand or yet to comprehend.

This child is surrounded by a lot of love and tenderness, something that sometimes a whole child may not get. I was wrong and now properly chastised. This mother loves her child.

Hmmm…

Would you trust a company that makes both shower gels and dishwashing liquids?

Do they just dilute the dishwashing liquids and miraculously turn it into soap…wait, nicer-smelling soap?

I was washing my dishes when i realized the shower gel i recently purchased came from the same company as my dishwashing liquid that is TOUGH ON GREASE.

Hmmm. Don’t feel very comfortable.

Incompetence

The roof in the laundry room has been leaking for over a year now. I noticed the water stains two years ago and was reassured that it was normal. Now plaster has peeled off in two areas and there is a significant leak when there is a downpour. We have lived with this problem for two years because it does not really bother us, since we do not live in the laundry room, and only ever use it for our ironing and washing. Secondly, we are so busy that hounding after the irresponsible agent makes our heads spin.

Unfortunately our agent’s incompetence has started to irk us,  me specifically, since i am the one who deals with the agent. She accused us of a late rental payment and when i checked with my bank the money had already gone through. This accusation came at a time when i was completing my elective in an area where internet was scarce and the phone reception unstable. So in addition to the heavy responsibility of twelve hour surgical shifts, i had to go to great painful lengths to check, clarify and follow up with the agent. Except the agent was missing in action for a few days. When i finally did get hold of her to inquire about the missing money, i was startled when instead of a greeting, she actually screeched into the phone that she had the money, and why was i hassling her?? When i calmly told her that no one had informed me of the new progress, she hissed that she had been busy. This phone exchange took place in the surgical ward, minutes before i was due for a ward round. I could not be too rude because i did not want to raise the eyebrows of too many people around me in the ward. So i subtlety made her admit that it was her fault (she yelled) before i thanked her (with much distaste) and hung up.

I was furious. I do not know what exactly went wrong since the last time we met we were on very friendly terms (unless she had been faking it). Plus we are certainly excellent tenants. We do not hound the agent, our rental payments are punctual, and we take care of the property. When we finally decided it was time she fixed the roof, she retorted that it was not forecast to rain and therefore it was not urgent. She only sent someone over when i called the company and spoke to another agent. Oh, and she sent a plumber to fix the roof. All the plumber did was slap on a couple of tiles. He did not even mend the holes in the plaster. My housemate and i were and still am appalled. We started looking around for a new place. We wanted to break the lease. We also sought the advice of a housing counselor from our University.

And that was the final straw that broke the camel’s back for us.

The counselor bluntly told us that 1. We will certainly get a bad reference from the agent making our search for a new place difficult even though this is not our fault (this infuriated me since i ensured my reference was pristine for the last three years and now someone was ruining it because she was racist/incompetent/evil), 2. We are legally bound by our agreement regardless of the agent’s negligence to maintain the house so we have to pay the rent until we find another tenant which is impossible. Who the hell will move into a house with a leaking roof?! 3. The agent may be a bitch but we have no rights as tenants to even request for a change in agents from the same company.

After these three revelations, the counselor proceeded to educate us about Life and likened this agent to the boss from hell when we start work. We hate her but we still have to deal with it. In fact, she encouraged us to approach our agent, take her out for coffee and apologized for OUR behaviour. When my housemate flatly refused on grounds of principles, this ditzy couselar retorted that she had apologized millions of times in her life for no good reason, and that we need to keep our personal lives apart from issues like this. If a roof over our head is not personal enough, i am not so sure what this counselor is talking about. I knew she had already lost my housemate. My housemate had dismissed her and kept silent throughout the conversation. But at least my housemate gave her enough respect to maintain eye contact. I merely concentrated on the computer screen behind this person. I could not bear to look at her and even if i did, it was more of a blistering stare. Here in front of us is another prime example of incompetence.

I was shocked beyond words. How did a world class institution like ours hire this nincompoop? Also i have finally accepted how badly run this country is. There is a system in place that bullies middle class tenants, boot licks those with cash and ignores the people who are in desperate need of a house. I ran through the ads and found innumerable ads of single parent families and young couples with babies who have been denied housing because they were not rich enough or perhaps because they were just unappealing. I cannot even start to describe how distressed and frustrated i am.

Previously i have just speculated that the system was as such, but now it has been carved in stone. Nothing can alleviate my disappointment. We are suffering an injustice, i guess, who are we not to suffer any right?

We have a few more months on our lease. By then hopefully my housemate and i will know where we have been matched. If we are still in the same state, we will rent a newer place. Perhaps the prefix Dr, in front of our names will help (it probably will, this is how superficial society has become). If not, the worse outcome will be for me to board my dog for three months, and we seek short term accommodation for our remaining semester.

This is just disgraceful.