Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Attack of the Mandarin Characters

Scene: Set in Singapore, in my old secondary school, Nanyang Girls' High School. During Chinese lessons.

Our Chinese teacher had just given us a piece of assignment to do in class. She wanted us to break off into groups and come up with a small skit, based on funny incidents that have happened in school. However, it had to be in mandarin. I was in the same group with two other close friends of mine. But I didn't help them. Or rather, I don't remember helping them (maybe I did, maybe I didn't) come up with the plot and the dialogue. I was somewhere else (physically or mentally, I'm not sure) and the other two wrote out the skit all by themselves (not that I would help much anyway).

When I returned to join them, the teacher had called us all to gather. We were not supposed to be the first group to present, but the two other groups ahead of us somehow bailed (can't remember why) we ended up having to present first. At this point, we had not rehearsed at all. We were supposed to rehearse while the other groups presented. I was unprepared and nervous. I took to the front of the class and on cue, we started. My friend spoke first in good mandarin, in a loud and clear voice.

Then, it was my turn to speak. I read from the script I had in my hand. The Chinese characters were typed out (maybe they supplied computers in school). I read my first sentence. That went well. Then I continued my long paragraph. I got to a couple of hard words that I could not pronounce and I started to stutter. The characters started appearing foreign to me, hard and complicated. I stumbled. The harder I tried to make it sound fluent, the more disjointed my sentences got. The more I tried to correct myself, the more mistakes I made. The more unsure I was, the softer I got. The faster I tried to speak, the slower time seemed to pass. My face was practically in my script. I was trying to read each word as it looks, which doesn't work for some Chinese characters. You can't just read one side of the character and assume that the entire character sounds like it. I bit my lip in embarrassment and preserved on to finishing the skit. It seemed like I was the only one talking (my other group members did not appear to have any other parts) and I theoretically, I wasn't talking. I was stuttering word after word, making mistakes after mistakes and I think when I finally ended, only the front row of the class and the teacher could hear my voice. My whole face was red with embarrassment, and I had a funny feeling in my nose.

The Chinese teacher stared at me at the end of the skit and said something. I can't remember what she said, but it obviously was not a compliment. We were told to return to our seats as the other group went up to present. I couldn't stand being in the classroom, with my classmates who had witnessed my most embarrassing moment in my entire life (it sure felt that way) and with the teacher who wasn't too happy about my performance. I left from the back door, walking fast in the direction of the washrooms. I brushed past Miss Sam on the way there. Miss Sam was the form teacher of our class and she really looked out for me. She's real nice to me. Miss Sam caught up with me, seeing my now very swollen and watery eyes; she asked me what was wrong. I continued walking (avoiding the crowds of students in the corridor) till we got to the vacant washroom and I cried on Miss Sam's shoulders. My two close friends had followed after me, and were telling me it was all okay. After a little comforting by Miss Sam, I finally stopped.

I don't know what happened next...I woke up. What a bad nightmare! I was too tired to think further, it was only a dream. I went back to sleep and never woke till morning. It was a weird and yet real dream - weird in the sense that I have not had Chinese lessons since 4 years ago, so what inspired this dream was a mystery to me, and real because I could easily be placed in a situation like that, in a situation where my poor mandarin skills could be displayed.

My mandarin has always been poor when I was in Singapore, even after learning it for like forever. My friends used to tell me I speak mandarin with an accent and they love listening to me speak mandarin, which was a very rare thing. I guess I just didn't pronounce the Chinese characters very accurately, which made it sound funny and 'cute' as they pointed out. There was also once when I had to read aloud a passage from the Chinese textbook and after my performance, the teacher kindly criticised that I sounded like I was singing a song. That was embarrassing then, but bearable. I guess I was kind of proud of my 'unique pronunciation' when I was in Singapore, I had an 'accent'. I always took that as a kind of compliment I guess. But it's so weird, how I had a dream about my atrocious mandarin, and I think today, if given the passage in my dream, I would probably embarrass myself as well, that's why I said it was a REAL dream.

But the cool part was, I got to see Miss Sam again - even though it was in my dreams. She's not Miss Sam anymore (married now), but in my dream, she looked the same, just like how I remembered her 4 years ago. That always happen. Like there was once, I dreamt of my primary school classmates, and they still had their primary school face and everything, but they were teenagers, the same age as I was when I was having the dream. Weird, but I guess you only remember people as you have last seen them. I don't think there is any brain that is 'high-tech' enough to modify a person's looks to how they should look like at present day. Back to Miss Sam, she was the way I remembered her, petit, skinny and caring. She cared a lot for me when I was in sec school, and we had a cute relationship. I could joke with her, being mischievous, and she would joke back, pulling my ear playfully because of my mischievousness. But I paid attention to her class and I was good at math (not be boast or anything) - accredited to her being a good teacher. I miss her.

Another person I miss heaps is my Aunty Violi. At church, we normally have a second speaker to read the gospel passage in a different language, and today's second reading was by a Pilipino in Tagalog. And that reminded me of Aunty Violi. Small and petit herself, she was our maid in Singapore (it's common in Singapore to employ the help of Pilipinos), but she was more like a friend to me, sometimes a mother - nagging and scolding after us. She worked for us for 8 or 9 years until we left for New Zealand. I do miss her. I remember when we were younger, she would take us over to our neighbour's place to play or walk with us to the mini-mart near our house. When I grew older, I listened to her talk about her 'boyfriends', shared with her about my male friends, and listened about her American male pen-pal. Her handwriting was distinct - unique with big strokes. She wrote letters pretty often. I remember her scolding us when we didn't pick up after ourselves and also when Laura and I got into big arguments, she was there too. I miss her. She's married now and back in the Philippines I think. I messaged her this morning after the church service but she hasn't messaged back yet.

Is that still her number? I can only wait.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Workings of the Advertising Sales Consultant

Today, I finally received two boxes of my very own name cards!! How cool is that! It has my name on it - duh - and no spelling mistakes...but I can only hope that it's perfect, but it's not - what's new? Of course there would have to be some errors, can't possibly give me an error free name card, can they? My DDI number at work was printed wrongly and I had to manually change it, but nevertheless, I'm not complaining!

Plus, I totally dig my job title. "Hi, I'm Lorraine, the Advertising Sales Consultant of the Manukau and Papakura Courier. So please to meet you." It just sounds so flash...but it's weird. I mean, I applied for the Advertising Sales Coordinator position (as printed on the job ad), I guess an Advertising Sales Consultant is quite close to that, but a consultant does sound more impressive than a coordinator, don't you agree?

You see, the other girl at work who is doing the same job as I am, Ruby, she's a Sales Coordinator as shown on her name card - yuck, no offense, but I would rather be in advertising than in sales. And the girl who I am taking over, Jess, who used to do what I did, on her name card, she's got 'Advertising Coordinator' - not as flash, but yet, all our jobs are similar or rather the same - why the different job titles? But I'm not complaining coz I think my job title is REAL FLASH and I love it! first ever ad was published on Thursday's paper! As you can see, it's a simple ad, and you might think, nothing to it, but it's completely different when you are in my shoes. The client just gave me the details she wanted in the ad, but left the layout all up to me, so it's really an accomplishment seeing my very own ad appearing in the newspaper, electronically produced by the production team who understood all the written or drawn instructions given to them, plus, it was proofed and all OK-ed by the client himself! Imagine how many other people saw the ad as well?

My first ad - designed by none other than the Advertising Sales Consultant Posted by Hello

And this is my second ad, for SUBWAY "Eat Fresh". Simple, don't really know about the colour but at least it didn't turn out too hideous - what a relief!

My second ad "Subway, Eat Fresh" Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Day in the Life of a Shoppaholic

Today was the most exhilarating day of my life...well, not really life coz I know I have had better days (where I've spent more money - hee hee), but today has been amazing as well. Work was boring. I was busy in the morning, but when it got to the afternoon, everything slowed down to a crawl. All I wished was for time to pass quickly and for evening to come coz EVENING = SHOPPING!

I have discovered the truth about my life (well, not really 'discovered' coz I knew this fact long ago, but now, I have a proof to back it up - not that my shopping receipts weren't proofs in itself) - that is, I was born to be a shoppaholic: BIRTH = SHOPPING.

This is my theory:

BIRTH = Growth
Growth = Education
Education = School/University
University + 3 Years = Degree
Degree + Job Hunting = Work
Work + 1 Week = Payday
Payday = $$$
$$$ + Credit Card = SHOPPING

Therefore, BIRTH = SHOPPING (q.e.d.1)

I was born to be a shoppaholic...and so what, pray tell, did the shoppaholic buy this evening?'s not a very long list. First, I went to Farmers Departmental Store (Botany) and bought a pink 3/4 pants - only $10 and quite a good bargain, and with mum's praise "it looks good, you should get it", how can the shoppaholic turn down such a compliment? So yes, a good start for the day.

From there, we progressed on to Glassons where I found a pink 3/4 sleeved, v-neck top. Just $20 and a 'worth it' buy considering that I have been searching for a pink top since last weekend when I went shopping and bought 2 pretty, gorgeous skirts that would go SO WELL with a pretty pink top. Good buy I must say...last week's skirts as well - LOVE THEM and CAN'T WAIT TO WEAR THEM.

After Glassons and a little walking around in Espirt (saw a pretty multi-coloured shirt there going for $59.90 but didn't buy coz we - mum and me - decided to try Espirt Factory Outlet at Dressmart this coming weekend and perhaps we might find it cheaper there - see the shoppaholic doesn't just throw money down the drain), we found outselves in CUE, spending our last half an hour of shopping time (shops closes at 9pm) trying out clothes in CUE. CUE was having some sale on selected items and what calls out to a shoppaholic more than the big SALE 50% DISCOUNT sign. And should I say this: I could have bought more, but I didn't. I ended up getting a pretty brown skirt (gorgeous silk-ish material) for a bargain - totally worth it justifying it as a work skirt (what I definitely need), and an amazing green dress (another work outfit and therefore complete value for money). I shall not discuss any money issues here with you (let's just leave your imagination to do the calculations)...all I can say is that it was a fantastic BARGAIN annddd *looking for another reason* annddd mumwantstogetthedressaswell (we'll be trying St Luke's Shopping mall over this coming weekend) - just in a different size.

LOVE WHAT I'VE BOUGHT and if some of you are shaking your heads in disappointment at this compulsive shoppaholic here, thinking I'm a lost case, well, let me justify: I have tight control over my spending and I DO save but HEY, why should I be doing the justification? I am a working professional and earning income...the question should be: WHY SHOULDN'T I?

Foot notes:
1 "Q.E.D." (sometimes written "QED") is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase "quod erat demonstrandum" ("that which was to be demonstrated"), a notation which is often placed at the end of a mathematical proof to indicate its completion. Dude, didn't you know that? Go back to school man!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Home Alone

For the past few days, since Sunday night, I have been staying home alone, all by myself in this big (okay, not so big) house...aaaahh...the serenity, the freedom,


How did it all start? Long time ago, my mother gave birth to my younger sister, Laura. Back to present day, Laura decided she wanted to become a vet and wanted to study Veterinary Science. In the entire New Zealand, the only place offering that course is down at Palmerston North, a good 7 hours drive away. With uni starting soon, and Laura's orientation just around the corner, mum, dad and Laura took off on Sunday on their journey south to Palmy, to help Laura get settled into life in a hostel away from home. Just before they left at 7.30am in the morning, I passed on a few words of sleepy wisdom to my lovely sister, "Take care of yourself, study hard, make heaps of friends, don't play too much, don't go partying too much, don't get drunk and pregnant."

And they left. And I had the house all to myself.

Being home alone is fantastic! The house is all quiet, apart from my music blasting from my stereo at full volume - KOREAN POP: ah yea, uh huh...uh uh uh uh...ah yea, uh's o to the p and t to the g...I got to continue with part 2 of my sleep that Sunday morning for a couple more hours without the disturbance from the washing machine, or the waste master, or the chatter of my parents, or from hyms on television.

Ahhh, the beauty of living by myself - that Sunday night, I moved everything I needed upstairs into the master bedroom - which included my duvet, pillows, boasters, yellow towel (aka security blanket - but shhh...don't tell anyone I told you that), Sashimi Katsudon (my snow-bean filled pink pig), Toffee (my forever friends bear) and Metyu (my Me-To-You bear that Laura gave me for my birthday). All my toileteries also took over the master bathroom, and my CD player also followed me upstairs to the bedroom. The master bedroom became my haven...the downstairs, where all the other bedrooms and study are, was too creepy and isolated for me.

Occupying the master bedroom and being alone meant that I could stretch out on the massive queen sized bed (massive in comparison to my own) and do superman poses whilst I slept. I almost did a 90 degree turn while sleeping, finding myself stretched across the bed - I've ever done a 180 in my sleep before, woke up completely disoriented. I could have breakfast and dinner in bed. I didn't need to prepare my own dinner - coz mum and dad purposely bought heaps the night before they left, so I had plenty of leftovers to fill me up. I could watch TV all night in bed coz the master bedroom has a television...and I could even walk around the house in my birthday suit as well for all I cared.

But the downside to it...of course there are downsides. I had to clear out the garbage last night coz it was garbage night and mum and dad weren't around to do it - SMELLY, I had to iron my clothes if I needed it - CHORE, I had to eat leftovers - MM, and I didn't have anyone to talk to, to share my day with - ZIP, and I didn't get a reply when I came home after work saying "tadayima" ('I'm home' in Japanese) - ECHO CHO HO O.

The worst part was, I didn't have anyone to come to my rescue when I SCREAMMMEEEEDDDDD at the sight of a praying mantis in the master bathroom just now when I came home. Now, I'm locked out of it, voluntarily.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I tszuj, therefore I am.

The Art of the Tszuj

'When I worked at Ralph Lauren, whenever we were styling looks for runway shows or on models, Ralph and Jerry Lauren would turn to me and say, "Carson, give that a little Tszuj." "Tszuj it" just means tweak it, finesse it, make it better, make it personal. It might mean paying attention to the details: a little roll of the cuff, a tweak of the collar, or pushing up sleeves. It might be as simple as halfway tucking in a sweater, opening a button or two on your shirt, or tweaking the angle of your ballcap.

The whole reason for tszujing us to take your look over the top. It brings an outfit to life and makes it look like it's not on a mannequin. Tszujing is being alive. I tszuj, therefore I am.

(Tszuj not, lest ye be tszujed!) So just tszuj it, people!'

~By the creator of the Tszuj,
the fashion guru for the straights,
the famous, the queer,
Carson Kressley from his very own book Off the Cuff~

The Queer Eye Fab 5 - the most gorgeous, humourous and entertaining gayians on the planet. Introducing from left to right: Ted for the Gourmet Ed, Thom the Decor Storm, Carson the Tszujing Person, Jai with the Jive, and lastly Kyan the Groom man.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Birthday Dedication



This blog dedication goes out to my best friend, PRINCESS PEAR, on her big 21st birthday!! I wish I could be there to spend your big 21st with you, but it's not life or death ay? It would be cool to spend a birthday with you - know what? I just discovered that we've been best friends for the past few years, but I've never ever spent a birthday with you. But I don't regret a single bit of coming over to NZ coz NZ brought us to where we are right now - BEST FRIENDS and ETERNAL SHOPPING KHAKIS! So here's wishing you best wishes and a great year ahead, with lots of 'handle-able' stress - from uni and the multiple, endless asses - coz Pear's keeping the faith about being a 'superwoman', with lots of sweet love - from Junren, with lots of encouragement - from family, future in-laws (read that you've got their approval ay?) and close friends (ahem me ahem), and with lots of shopping opportunities - hopefully with me - patience, not too long now!

Take care babe, and ENJOY YOUR DAY and MONTH and YEAR - till next year!

Ohh ohh important question - it's a tradition to ask this on anyone's birthday - do you feel any older? (Still waiting for a yes coz it seems, to everyone, it's just another day - no big sudden revelation or any sudden change that makes a person feel significantly older)

Friday, February 18, 2005

Hello, Manukau and Papakura Courier, Lorraine speaking

Hello, Manuk Manukau and PapakuCourier, Lorraine speaking
Hello, Manuco and Papacora Courier, Lorraine speaking
Hello, Manukau Courier and PaPakura Courier, Lorraine speaking
Hello, Ma-nu-kau and Pa-pa-ku-ra Cour-rier, Lorraine speaking
Hello, Manukau Courier and Papakura Courier, Lorraine speaking
Hello, Manukau and Papakura Courier, Lorraine speaking

That was what I did the whole of yesterday. Practicing how to say 'Hello, Manukau and Papakura Courier, Lorraine speaking' really quickly. Turst me, it takes loads of practice to say it real fast and when I started out, I was tongue-tied several times before getting it right, or forgetting what to say the moment I picked up the phone and said ''. It's not so easy being a receptionist after all. Why did I end up as a receptionist, learning how to use the switchboard and stuff? Doesn't the Princess Raine have a gorgeous job title as the Advertising Sales Coordinator? Did she quit that job or got demoted to being a front desk receptionist? Well, coz I had absolutely nothing to do at the office yesterday afternoon and I didn't want to be caught bumming around doing nothing so I asked if there was anything I could do to fill up the next 5 hours of work, and there was. They said I could learn how to answer calls and book classified ads when customers come in - which is pretty cool - coz the receptionist at the front desk might need a filling-in whenever they need a break. Plus, I think some front desk experience would look good on my CV as well, having EXCELLANT customer service experience and GOOD communication skills.

By the end of the day, I was an expert at saying, "Hello, Manukau and Papakura Courier, Lorraine speaking," which ended up sounding like, "Hellomanukauandpapakuracourierlorrainespeaking".

Now it's your turn to try it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


"It is nothing like that at all (like what you read in women magazines). They never said you stopped breathing air and started breathing person instead. Till the smell of that person becomes far more precious than air. They didn't tell you that your whole skin lights up, feels ten times as much, so you look back and realise you've been walking around all your life with a skin as thick and cold as a rhinoceros. They don't tell you it's the end of feeling alone, ever since the day you were born. Or about the soft aches that drift round your body like summer clouds. They don't tell you that you go right away to another place; a warm darkness where there is just the two of you and the rest of the world is nowhere."
~ quote from Chapel Farm in Blizzard by Robert Westall~

Monday, February 14, 2005

Confessions of an Expired Teenage Drama Queen

Topic: Valentine's Day

Am I pathetic or AM I pathetic? This is yet another Valentine's Day that I'm spending all by myself, the 21st one in a row. Looks like I'm setting a tradition. How am I ever going to break out of this trad? What's worst was when I was out at this shopping mall earlier this morning - beauty of my job is that I can really go anywhere I like because anywhere can be along the way when we are going to meet clients - while at the mall, I walked by this flower shop and it was overflowing with flowers and everywhere was red red red. Let me emphasise: EVERYWHERE WAS RED RED RED! Hampers tied with RED BOWS containing cute teddies, RED FLOWERS placed in RED BASKETS. RED period. The RED hampers consumed the shop and it was even overflowing into the walkway as well - RED with JEALOUSY. How come I've never received any of these before? Not even a $15 RED rose - okay, Valentine's Day is such a commercial hoax - so I shan't be greedy...where's my text message saying, "HAPPY VALENTINES DAY SWEETIE"? ('SWEETIE' is optional) OH WAIT, that's right, GET YOURSELF A BOYFRIEND FIRST!!

Sorry, guess I have scared away any bloke who probably accidently came across this blog entry. Honestly, I'm not such a dramatic person, but if you ask any girl out there who's been spending 21 Valentine's Days alone, you'll see, I'm actually quite sane.


The Start of the Shopping Trip

I have decided to mark my 21st Valentines Day - 14 February 2005 at 6.05pm - as the day the shoppaholic started her massive lifelong shopping trip. Welcome to the adventures of the shoppa-FCUK-aholic. Let's go SHOPPING - YAAAAYYYYYYYYY!