How Do You Love Then and Now?

While making Bak Kut Teh (trial!) and Glee’s Songbird played in the living room, a sudden memory of a friend fleeted through my mind.

He was about to get married soon and he was beating himself up about not being enough of a casanova for his future wife. We were reflecting on the crazy romantic things that he used to do when he was a teenager. He would write songs for all his love interests and it never worked out, but one or two of the girls would keep his songs close to heart, because they were so beautiful! But still he picked himself up, wrote another song for another beautiful girl with all his heart. He loved genuinely and he was always faithfully in love. My friend, he was a very passionate little boy. πŸ™‚

In our teens our idea of a relationship was just to be caught in a whirlwind of romance, with an admirer dancing on the roof of a school block while belting out “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”…nevermind the possibility that he would fall three floors down to the cement. Seriously, that was the kind of  fantasies I had in form3 as I looked out my class window during a boring BM class.

If I had a crush, the furthest I thought about would be what it would be like to hold his hand. And a kiss? Oh my! Well, I never. That would be… wow. Too much. My breath would then come in short gasps and my heart would palpitate at the most intense imagination of what a kiss would feel like. I would squeal into my pillow and tell myself to go to sleep. Maybe it’ll happen one day. Maybe.

I was a very forward little girl, as most of you probably already know with all my revelations of past love interests over the years on this blog. The kind of things I did would be to write poems. I had books filled with poems of  heartbreak, pining and confusion. All little girls love drama in their lives. πŸ™‚ It was the kind of bittersweet sugar rush rose tinted kind of perception about what love is.

I kind of enjoyed the feeling of pining then and I would draw inspiration from it to churn out puppy love poems. The more I pined, the better the poem. When I got heartbroken, the poem became mindblowing. (ahem) I’ll probably get it out one day and put it here. Hehe.

My books were filling with such melancholic words like these:

I saw you walk on by under the afternoon sky,
I was waiting for you to catch my eye,
You pretended not to see, not to hear,
The deafening sound of my heart breaking here.

Hehehe. So drama and silly. Whoever the poor boy was was probably all caught up in conversation with some friend about some Starcraft game or some football game later in the afternoon. πŸ™‚

If I had a go at writing poems now, it’ll probably be something like:

The floor I swept and then I mopped,
But I didn’t do the table top,
The bathroom you promised to clean,
And later please put a plastic bag in the bin.
I love you.

LOL. I can’t imagine myself writing my love sick nonsense to Chee Kiang. It would seem so silly. In a relationship so drama free, without heartbreaks, without anger, without pining, so much normalcy…there’s really no space for any poem writing. Granted he came into my life when I was still a kid but we didn’t happen till much later. We always have this running joke about how our courtship happened when we were about 15-16.. so our idea of dating is like stuck in time. It never grew into an adult form, so if touch wood, we are thrown back into the sea at this age now, we’ll be going around asking people “I like you, you like me? Can we couple plz? Oh and do you have ICQ?”

I am very happy with our stability, when so many people are finding it hard to trudge on with their own long term relationships. It breaks my heart every time I hear a fellow comrade fall out of love. Over the years, we would have couple friends whom we thought we could always double date with and then along the way they would stop loving each other and we would feel a sense of loss. Some people get together for a few months and then go their own ways, and we even have trips planned ahead longer than their relationship. It’s strange. A few months is a lifetime of a relationship for some, but to me it’s just a few moments in mine filled with things we want to do and need to do.

I’m sure all of us have grown up in some way to learn to adapt to our concept of love. For me, comfort, security, understanding, inside jokes are so important. But if you ask the 12 year old me, she would tell you that love would be when he tells you he loves you back after all that you have said and done.

And then what? Well, she won’t have a clue. πŸ™‚

Aren’t you glad we do now?

A Letter To The Sixteen Year Old Me

Dear 16 Year Old Me,

just thought you might like to know what has happened for you for the next eight years of your life.

You don’t have to cry after the modern maths trial paper thinking that if modern maths was shit, add maths would just  bury you alive. You don’t have to walk around school a week or two before SPM saying in a soft voice to friends that you probably won’t make it to college with your shit trial results. College did seem like an impossible goal then, clouded by the piles of books you had to devour for SPM. Thankfully the greater portion of Malaysian SPM candidates are not super smart like the kids from 5 Gamma or have the means to go for tuition to be spoonfed – hence the 8A’s you managed to get for SPM.

Bubbles and Shih Ling would finally consummate their relationship on the morning of your Biology paper (the irony!) and would pop out five puppies, 2 of which would be stillborn and the remaining puppies are named Oreo, Chazzy and Angel. Angel would grow up to be a half dog half human kind of family mutant. The entire family would love her so much and she remains as the longest surviving dog in the Lai household. Still very much loved because of her evergreen puppy like features despite being at the grand old age of 7 years old!

Don’t you worry about Mervyn, who shook his head at your super thick biology textbook. For his own biology paper three years later, he would only start studying 2 hours before his SPM paper, going on to score a miraculous D. He would find his true calling in law and would excel so much in it that everyone in the family are so thankful that maturity has caught up with him and that he is, in fact, a brilliant student. He just didn’t like science.

I don’t have to ask you to spend more time with Mama, Yeah yeah and Yee Ma because you already do as it is. Mama and Yeah Yeah would die within a week of each other in 2005, Yeah yeah finally succumbing to his COPD and Mama would suffer a stroke two days after Yeah Yeah’s death because she went without her diabetic medication for a couple of days. Yee Ma’s death would come as the most shocking of all. She would fall from a ladder while attempting to clean out some bird nests from her window. It’s been three years now and the pain is less now but you would still remember her and pine for those Malacca visits. Popo would come to live with you, mum, dad and mervyn..and it is a blessing in disguise because you thought you would never be able to feel super close to Popo, the grandma you only visit a few times a year. But for the three years that Popo has been living with you, you’d be able to ask her so much questions about her past and learn so much about her and feel a stronger and better bond with her.

You wondered if you would be able to finally go through with just that ONE ambition. Enough of wanting to be an astronaut, an entertainment lawyer, a veterinarian…you thought about becoming an orthodontist. You didn’t know the road to becoming an orthodontist would be filled with so many obstacles. Time, finance, opportunities. You didn’t realize that you would first need to be a dentist (which is a super long journey as well) and work for a few years before finally having the time, money and opportunity to be able to further your studies. But you would learn to feel tired at the thought of orthodontics in university. You would start work in a daze not knowing whether to remain as a general dentist or to further your studies. But after six months of working, I can tell you that your strength is in dealing with children. You love children and you have a way in persuading them to do things they really don’t want to do. Maybe you can consider becoming a pediatric dentist. Yes, there is such a profession, you just didn’t know at that time.

You know Chee Kiang? Yeah, I know, he is always topping you in class but don’t be bitchy to him because he is just so much smarter and you can’t change that! Stop being bitter! He would later on tell you that he felt very upset at the way you treated him during the whole of Form 5 and wish that you guys were the way you were back in form 4 when you were almost together but not quite. You would stop dangling the proverbial carrot sometime during your A-levels and his A-levels (though he would do his in Singapore, and you in your backyard, Taylor’s College) and finally get together at the end of 2004. Don’t freak out…. but things get very serious.


This is how serious it would become. You would share an apartment together. 😐 So stop being mean to him okay? He might have enough ammo against you and refuse to wash the dishes after dinner.

There would come a time in your life when you would start penning your thoughts in an online journal that the world wide web would refer to as a blog. But your thoughts would not be mere thoughts of how your day went but it would be filled with photos of things you have done and things you want to show the world! Blogging would play a big big part of your life from college right up to the first few years of university. You would even say things like, “But blogging is my life!!” when daddy would call you up to tell you off for revealing too much of yourself online. You would feel so upset and feel uneasy if you don’t share every single thing that has happened to you.

You would get involved with a community of like minded people who penned their thoughts online and be so caught up in it. Fortunately, your effort would pay off and there are people who would love to read your blog because you would be shameless and be extremely generous with self depreciating humour. Almost all your friends would read your blog and everyone would remember you as a blogger. Sometimes, people in your past who never quite cared to be your friend, would become chummy just because you had a blog that was read by quite a large number of people. I know it sounds conceited, but it’s true. In a way you don’t have to try so hard to make friends because during this period of time, most of your friends’ friends would have read your blog at least once and know know you ‘quite well’ already, even though you have never met that person before. Aside from superficial friendships made and rekindled, it also opened the doors to many opportunities for you. You would be acquainted with people you probably wouldn’t have had the chance to meet and later on, blogging would mean the opportunity to endorse a few products and you get to keep them for free!

You would go on to be grateful for having had this opportunity, this experience, but blogging would become an activity that is few and far in between towards tbe end of your uni life. It wouldn’t matter as much anymore. The phase would pass just as quickly as it came. You would only write when you want to…or worse, remember to. 😐

Sometime in the middle of university, you would find a hobby that would eventually take over blogging. You know how much you love stickers right? Right, you would actually turn it into a business. While it is not going to get listed anytime soon, it has grown in the past three years and some months, the profits are even enough to pay all your bills for you!

Back then, you would be so crazy about the latest Acer laptops that was promoted in the brochures that came with the newspaper. What was most important to you back then was to have a laptop that had wifi and a cd burner. Daddy bought you an Acer laptop just a couple of days before your Chemistry SPM paper and you would be so amazed at the ability to go online anywhere in your house. But what if I told you that you would have the internet in your hands ANYWHERE in Malaysia? A PDA like phone called smartphones would emerge and it would change how Malaysians go online. You’ve probably already started playing Friendster but now, 8 years later, social network has taken the world by storm and changed the way we communicate. Everyone, including Angel, would be on Facebook. Imagine that! I know you just got streamyx installed, but would you believe it if I told you that there is wireless internet provided by telco companies, providing you with an internet connection anytime, anywhere? There would also be a piece of technology called the iPad. It’s just a flat screen, a really really flat screen, even thinner than mummy’s chopping board and you can go online with it? Just by tapping on the screen! Can you believe it??

You would get your driving license next year but you’d  always get lost when venturing to a new territory. A technology called GPS would be able to bring you to your destination with precise directions and instructions. You thought your Nokia 3310 was awesome, the best thing ever. But wait till you get your hands on a GPS.

I know you think you’re going to miss all your friends and you’re clamoring to take as many photos as you can with all of them. But those that you want to see again, you will always see them. Probably the only friends you see in Subang for all the years after high school. The girls are now scattered all over the place, most of them would go on to work in the finance sector. In fact, Mel would be the first to get married and as I type this, she is on a flight to Melbourne to get married to an awesome guy named Tim. You and a few of the girls would go down for their wedding later in the year! As for the guys in your year, you would still see them a lot too. If they are not in finance, they are in engineering. It’s awesome that you will still get to see them and to be able to share so many years of friendship with this big bunch of people that you know so well.

You would meet a girl called Lie Yuen in college next year. She might seem quiet… but do take notice of her because she would go on to become your closest friend for the next five years of your life in university. You would share a house with her and she would be the one who knows you so well, even things mum and dad don’t know about you. It’s not easy to meet such a friend who would listen to all your life stories, tell you all her life stories, predict you so well, share so many inside jokes with…basically she would be your rock in your time of need at uni. We would become the extra daughter to each of our families. Popo even gave her japanese roses to plant in our pathetic garden.

You know the whole thing that you do with guys bums, slapping them and grabbing them whenever and wherever to the cheers and shrieks of laughter from your friends? You would actually grimace at it later on in life. What were you trying to prove? You thought it was a way to show these boys (and some girls) that you’re a cheeky girl who have no qualms about being appropriate. You thought it would make people warm up to you because you’re not one of those ‘quiet types’. Well, glad you’ve had your fun. But thank god you would stop doing that in college. You would still give the occasional butt whack to some familiar faces around college but other than that, it has stopped. Fortunately. A lot of people, including Chee Kiang, would tell you that you have become more serious over the years. You would not be quite sure what to make of that. But then again, almost everyone has changed since they started work. It’s true. Just you wait and see.

I hope you like hearing about how your late teens and early twenties have come and gone. Will tell you more when I hit 35.

Finally.

I know this comes as stale news.. but tomorrow is a big day for us. πŸ™‚

We are moving the first of our things into our very first rented apartment together. My pots and pans and textbooks will go first. Only that alone has taken up the whole car!! @.@ Might have to use the textbooks as decor on the ceiling or the walls in our tiny apartment.

I would say this is a pretty huge milestone for us as we have been playing the long distance game for.. well, forever! We have never been the couple who saw each other day which I believe allowed us our own space to grow during the past six years in our own ways and yet whenever we get to meet during our semester holidays, we make the most of it and then go back to living our own lives. πŸ™‚ It was difficult at times but you get used to it.

Being in Kluang for the past six months was great because I could go home anytime I wanted (space) or choosing to go down to him (spending time together). It was a perfect balance, a gradual step to living together.

I have been praying and bugging and praying and bugging and begging for the second leg of my first year dental officer posting to be done in JB and thankfully, I GOT IT!!! πŸ™‚ We went apartment hunting the very next day.

It still hasn’t quite sunk in… this whole living together thing. It’s exciting and strange at the same time because living on my own usually means that I have housemates. Is he my housemate? My family? What is he? What is this?? It’s a strange limbo between boyfriend and husband. It’s a whole new level of closeness. I think this is what people mean when they say taking the next step.

The both of us did feel awkward as we surveyed the apartments, quite shy to introduce ourselves as a couple, almost like as if we’re too young to be a ‘couple’. We really need to get this whole We-Are-Still-Kids mentality out of our heads because god knows how long ago that was. This is what being in university for far too long does to you. You grow up a little later than your peers. πŸ˜€

I have friends my age already buying houses, some even buying houses on their own without a partner involved. It’s all very adultish!

The idea was to get an apartment that was not too far from the causeway, super safe and near enough to my workplace. But because of the rotations a FYDO would have to do, I’ll have to drive around Johor Bahru for quite a bit and best of all, against the crazy morning traffic!

We were very fortunate, albeit very much poorer now too after paying 3 months rental plus utilities deposit for a 700 sq ft place within spitting distance from Hospital Sultanah Aminah, one of the places I’ll be attached to! I keep telling everyone that it’s really within spitting distance! Like, I can literally throw paper planes from my balcony and it would land in the hospital grounds! It’s also a stone’s throw from the seaside..which is basically just rocks because you ain’t got no beach front along the causeway area. πŸ™ No worries! I still have a seaside residence! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ The sea breeze blows in pretty strongly so I think we can save on aircon usage!

A lovely plus is the fact that Hospital Sultanah Aminah is THE place for all emergency cases so that means when I am on-call, I can just walk over when my phone goes off!

I’m so glad we’re here, the end of our long distance relationship journey. This moment was a hope we held on to dearly for the 5-6 years. We were even surveying Johor Bahru two years before graduation…that’s how excited we were! And to finally be here, we really don’t quite know what to make of it. πŸ™‚

and yes, we have both our parents’ blessings to be doing this together. More like no eye see.. hahahaha. <3

On A Day When We Felt Jaded

Someone and I were having a conversation on gtalk about how we feel about work. Although a professional, he feels small in the entire organization and feels like he is doing factory work day in day out. I tell him that I am no better, sometimes I feel like a cobbler. Fixing, making, cleaning.

Maybe because we both had particular long days which is why we are feeling this way but there’s like a stretch of 40 years of work before retirement. Is there such a thing as fresh grad syndrome? Where you feel jaded at times? I tell him that having goals in place will make our work more rewarding. A belief that I hope to hold on to as well.

While I feel my work is repetitive, at the same time I am plagued by the perpetual fear of not knowing if I know enough. It does eat at me. I know what I have to do, but there’s no exam to look forward to.. I need to be pressured into doing it.

I have roughly been through my career options in my mind a few times but all that would need money (furthering my studies, setting up a clinic…), I need to know what is best for me in the long run. What my priorities are. I can’t possibly be setting up a general clinic then running off to specialize after a couple of years, can I? But with only a few months under my belt, I really don’t know everything there is to know about this field.. I don’t really know what I want to do. I don’t really know if I should limit myself to a specialized field. I don’t know!

I believe it’s okay to have dreams in many places. You don’t have to have only one dream, one way of enjoying yourself. While it is important to have goals in your career, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the only thing you prioritize in life. As most of you would know, I really really enjoy my little sticker hobby-business. That’s a dream in its own. πŸ™‚

I chose dentistry because I narrowed it down from the things I’d rather do. This was when I was 16 years old, burdened by the huge duty of having to make life changing choices. SPM and college times were so hard and confusing. πŸ™ I knew very well that I hated physics to my very core, chemistry was nice, ahem, used to get the highest in class but was bombing chemistry in college, sometimes failing it too.. but I knew I had to do something science related.

I needed something that had no maths…no physics…no chemistry…..no sitting in a lab looking into microscopes… I’ve always liked biology in school. I liked how the human body worked. I actually wouldn’t have minded medicine but the long hours were the number 1 reason why I didn’t choose the field. Not like I confirm can get into med school also..ceh:P But dentistry provided me with all that. A chance to be in science, a chance to meet people day in day out and a chance to go home to make dinner for my family! I can be a professional AND a mother AND a wife! Yeah, so traditional at 16.

I really do..I really do like meeting people.

But sometimes, I sort of see why customer service people can’t provide customers with the most optimum level of services equipped with a smile. It has to be done. Especially now that the clinic has implemented a system for the patients to drop a yellow laminated smile in a box at the counter to rate our services. Sometimes there are very very difficult people to be dealt with. No matter how you reason, they don’t see the point in what you are trying to say.

Sometimes I wonder exactly how is my work rewarding? One patient might feel happy that he can now chew his chicken without any getting stuck in the cavity, another patient might feel grateful that her front tooth is replaced, another might finally get a good night’s sleep after the abscess has been removed. It does sound rewarding but it’s not epic. Unless the lama-lama jadi bukit thing holds true, then well, yeah.

An incident today did make me feel like I had a real purpose aside from fixing their teeth. πŸ™‚ A patient was so so so so so so so x1000000 of coming into the surgery. I invited her to sit down but she just stood there rooted to the spot, not saying a word. I thought “Great, another patient with mental disabilities…….how should I approach her?” Then I saw tears forming in her eyes. And then I realized that it was a really great fear of going to the dentist. She said that everything dental related scared her. The chair, the tray, the door, the light….. the patient and I had a good laugh after I explained everything to her, trying to alleviate her fears. I made jokes, she joked back, we had a good rapport going on. πŸ™‚ THAT was rewarding. To be able to change a person’s mind set, I think that is what matters most to me.

I guess at the end of the day it all boils down to appreciation. I want to tell that someone that it applies to him too. Appreciation for the things we do can go a long way.

I do wonder if all mid 20s go through such a period where they question where do they go from here.

But you know, I’ve a feeling that a couple of decades from now, we’ll all be well respected figures, solid and grounded with the odd cynicism here and there. We’ll be all right. πŸ™‚