From the monthly archives:

January 2010


We have all been asked of this quiz question before:

What Super Power do you wish you had?

I still don’t know what my answer should be.


Mind control?


“The ability to eat as much as I want without gaining any weight”. Yeah. That’s what I am thinking right at this moment.

You all know The Bloggess. She of the power of turning everything into a hilarious nature. Really. We should send her to the frontline, protected inside an armor car of course, and give her a microphone. She has the Super Power of turning people into a howling, thigh-slapping, LMAOROTF, Dionysian mass. And believe me: I normally do not like touching my own thighs. Except one thigh would always inadvertently touching the other, but that cannot be helped. I sometimes would get mind-clarifying, “Come to Jesus” moments when I read her blog. It ain’t all fluff.

A line I heard from the video embedded in one of her posts still haunts me till this day:

“I have the intellectual confidence to appear stupid sometimes.”

THIS is one of the best quotes I have learned in my whole life. Now, please repeat it with me:

“I have the intellectual confidence to appear stupid sometimes.”

I believe, by internalizing this line, we can all be liberated from self-consciousness and self-censorship. I believe this will be especially helpful for women climbing the corporate ladder, especially if the work place is predominantly male.

At first I thought that men are so good at “chiming in” and “making their points” at any meeting because they somehow were privy to this secret. Nah. Based on my years of ethnographic study of the male species in the corporate jungle, I believe that they are so good at “speaking up” because, unlike women who are often self-reflexive, most men never even consider the possibility that what comes out of their mouth may just be flat out the stupidest thing someone has ever heard of. See, they never apologize before they speak. The strength of not giving a damn. THAT is the Super Power I would like to have.

Today’s BOGO special:

In addition to the quote above that can serve as an awesomely witty throw-away remark when someone suggests that you are intelligence-challenged, AFTER you sucker punch them of course, here is another motto for you to use in your role as Truth Seeker:

We are entitled to our own opinions; we’re not entitled to our own facts. – Al Franken



My mom and dad called last Friday. Actually my mom did. Mom’s always the one that calls. And she always calls around 9 pm when it is the absolutely most friggin’ chaotic in the house. And she always pleads innocence saying she cannot figure out the time difference. And she always asks, “Have you eaten yet?” even after I tell her “It is 9 pm here. Ma!”

“It is cold there now, right? It is freezing here.” My mom says. Every single time during the winter. Did I tell you that they live in Taiwan? A sub-tropical island? The temperature in Taipei was supposed to reach 69 °F that day (as opposed to 36 °F here in Chicago and actually considered to be warm since it is finally above friggin’ freezing…)

“Ma. Sigh. You do know that the weather there has nothing to do with the weather here, right?” I could not bite my tongue and just let this one go.

“But it is really cold here. I bet it feels colder here.” My mom is a “last-worder” too: that’s probably where I got it. Between my husband and myself, my kids are doomed both nature- and nurture-wise. “Do you want to talk to your dad? Oh wait. Your dad wants to talk to you. Actually, he asked me to call you.”

Pleasantly surprised since my dad never wanted to talk to me on the phone, not that he loves me less but because he’s a man, I screamed, “Ba!” (The Chinese word for “Dad”) when my mom handed him the receiver. At 80, my dad is hard of hearing nowadays.

“Have you eaten yet?” He said, without a beat.

Sigh. “Yes. I have.”

“Is it snowing in Chicago because it is really cold here.”

Sigh. “Actually it is warmer today because it is above freezing.”

“Really? That’s something.”

“So… what’s going on? What are you doing today?” I know better than to expect my 80-year-old father to tell me something exciting in his plan for the day.

“Nothing. Just watching TV…. You haven’t called home for a long time. Is your husband still out of the country?”

“Yeah. He’s in Spain this time.”

“That’s what I thought when you didn’t call home for a long time. You must be very busy with the kids then.”

As if on cue, my oldest came to stand by my side and whispered loudly, “Mom. Mom. Mom!”

I glared at him and pressed my point finger to my lips. Ignoring my gesture, he continued,

“Mom! My gum hurts because my tooth here,” he proceeded to open his mouth with both hands so I could see better, “See? It is coming out. My tooth! My gum hurts!”

I turned my back towards him. He did not give up and came around to the other side, “So I need to go see a dentist…”

“Dad. Hold on. Just a sec.” I switched to English to deal with the dental crisis that was not, “Can’t you see I am on the phone with my parents? We’ll talk about this later.”

As if he did not hear what I just said, he switched to a brand new subject, “Mom, we need to pick up my new glasses!”

“I will. Tomorrow! I need to bring you with when we pick up your glasses…” I gritted my teeth.

All this time, Mr. Monk was on the floor pouring sugar into a bowl so he could make crystals according to the science book that he got last November. He never showed interest in the darn book until I was on the phone. Now he was next to me as well,

“Mom. What is a saucer?… Is it this?” He pulled out the biggest pot to show me, making a loud clattering noise.

“NO! That is NOT a saucer. And why do you need a saucer NOW for god’s sake?!” I raised my voice.

Seriously. They were quietly reading at the kitchen table before the phone rang. It just seems that EVERY TIME when I am on the phone, all of a sudden they have urgent information to share, questions to ask, emergencies to deal with. The sky is falling! We need your attention NOW!

I could hear my dad on the other side of the phone line: “It sounds like your children need you. I just want to hear you voice. We’ll talk later.”

“No. Dad!” He hung up before I could protest further. I frantically tried to dial my parents’ phone number. I am not making this up: in order to call my folks, I need to dial 22 friggin’ numbers. That’s right. 22. After the third try, the call finally went through.

“Mom. Is dad there? Could I talk to him?”

“He hung up on you, didn’t he? That man. He always does that. I told him to give me the phone and he said you were busy! Here he is.”

“Dad. You didn’t have to hang up!”

“But you are busy. You should go tend to the children.”

Exasperated now. “No. They can wait. They are not babies any more. They need to learn to be respectful!”

Of course, all this was said in Chinese so my children did not get any benefits from this lecture which explained why at this exact moment, at the same time, my oldest decided to play on a laptop that ran out of power and was struggling to get the power cord out from behind a desk at the risk of toppling everything that was sitting on the desk, and my youngest decided to pour sugar solution (sugar:water 6:1) from a sauce pot into a shallow saucer.

I watched all of it unfold in slow motion, and I could feel myself boiling. I did not even bother to cover the receiver as I exploded.


Switching to Chinese, “I am back. Dad, what were you saying?” I was expecting him to give me another lecture about being more lady-like.

“Whoa. You sounded just like my mother when we were little.” My dad commented.

My grandmother had 14 children. I have never met her, and my dad has not told me much about his mother, that is, he has never really reminisced about his childhood. When I was around, I was too young to ask these questions; now that I am old enough, I am not around enough.

Not sure whether this was something I should defend myself against, I defended my grandmother instead. “Well. There were so many of you. If she did not yell like that, she probably could not keep all of you in check.”

“That’s what I said. You sounded just like my mother.” He chuckled.  “That really reminds me of when I was a kid. We lived on a farm so she could yell like that without disturbing the neighbors.”

Maybe I was just imagining things, but he sounded like he had tears in his eyes when he said again, so quietly this time as if he weren’t talking to me,

“Wow. This really brings back childhood memories.”


sacré bleu

January 23, 2010

in random


I rushed to the Religious Ed with Mr. Monk as I always do on most Saturday mornings. I then walked to the 6th grade classroom to inform the Catechist that my oldest would not be there that day. We got to talking about his son.

“…He has a Ph.D. in [something akin to Rocket Science]…”

“Oh my god.” I was genuinely happy for him as I sensed the pride in his voice.

“… and he was the valedictorian in this school, and also at his high school…”

“Oh my god.” I liked how he was able to talk about his son’s accomplishments without appearing to be bragging.

“… He still tutors kids for SATs and all those exams. He’s very good… He’s at [Top Notch University] now but he comes home frequently so if you ever need help…”

“Oh my god. He teaches at [Top Notch University] too?!”

After the 3rd “Oh my god” I finally caught myself: Breaking the third (?) Commandment right here inside a Catholic school in front of a Catechist. Three times.

“Eh.” I pressed my hands together palm-to-palm like in a Buddhist prayer (just something I do unconsciously when I am feeling grateful or apologetic), “I am sorry for ‘using the Lord’s name in vain’…”

While chastising myself silently for using the “quotation marks” in a way that could be easily misinterpreted as being sarcastic, I hightailed out of there before I could say “Sweet Baby Jesus!”


Trouble Maker? You talking to me?

January 21, 2010 no manual for parenting

Tweet Sometimes I wonder whether the teachers talk about the parents amongst themselves. I would probably be known as “Trouble Maker”. My favorite moment was when I confronted approached the principal at the Thanksgiving Feast: “Could I safely assume that the headpieces the children are wearing are ‘turkeys’ and not ‘head dresses’?” I used the […]


Wanker Wednesday: My problems with “The Help”

January 20, 2010 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

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January 18, 2010 this i believe

Tweet Mr. Monk, my 7-year-going-on-50-old child, asked me last Friday at dinner, “Mom, is it true that you would not be here if Martin Luther King did not give THAT speech?” I was caught by surprise, I’ll be completely honest. Although I understand the impact Dr. King’s speech has had on the American history, culture […]


I love you, Lily Coyle of Minneapolis

January 17, 2010 this i believe

Tweet By now everyone of us have heard of what Pat Robertson has to say about the earthquake that just about leveled Haiti. I cannot help it, here is the highlight of his point: “They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a […]


The Golden Rule

January 16, 2010 no manual for parenting

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WTF Wednesday: Eye? Aye!

January 13, 2010 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

Tweet It is Thursday (and actually soon will be Friday…) Yes, I am cheating again by backdating my post. But it IS Wednesday somewhere in the world, right? Oh. Who cares. It is a WTF post by me when I’ve got my WTF glasses on. (Yeah, this line is for you my Wicked Kitchen Lady…) […]


I Comment Therefore I Am: The Amazon Edition

January 12, 2010 marketing at work

Tweet Here is another edition of I Comment Therefore I Am, following the footsteps of the great Unknown Mammi. In this era of information overload, in a lot of the news blogs, especially political news blogs, comments are often the best part. Sometimes the scariest part. The comment section is like a looking glass through […]


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