Zhou Pei Lin

And I find it kinda funny

I find it kinda sad

The dreams in which I'm dying

Are the best I've ever had

Yin Yang

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Phenomenal Woman
Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder
Where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built
To suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

. // prawninator | 21:43 + ~

Sunday, October 22, 2006

On Wednesday, my paternal grandfather passed away.

The same grandfather, Fan Boon Tong, who was hospitalized not too long ago is now dead, embalmed, and probably cremated by now. I felt a little numb when I heard the news. I couldn't cry, because I had expected it. I saw it coming. Though I never thought it would be that soon, I cannot deny the fact that I knew he would be going soon. The last time I saw him alive, he couldn't recognize me at first, and thought I was his grandniece... but after a while, he looked at me and asked, "Lui-lui ah, Tzai-tzai hiong bin dou ah? Mou tong huei lei ah?" Lui-lui was his nickname for me when I was growing up. He had asked me in Cantonese where my dad (Tzai-tzai) was, and asked why I didn't come with him. He could recognize me, and I was glad he could.

He used to drive my grandma and I to Ang Mo Kio where my cousin Kevin lived, in that blue lorry of his. I was very young then, but I can still remember him lifting me up into the lorry and sitting me in the middle, between grandma and himself. I even remember one time he tried to help me up into the lorry, but I said no, and tried to climb up by myself instead. I was about five then, and was barely taller than the tyre. I lost my balance and fell, but he caught me in the nick of time.

A lot of people asked me why I didn't seem affected by his death. I told them truthfully that I had expected it for a while now, but I didn't tell them I was keeping my emotions in as well. The night I learnt of his death, I couldn't sleep until 4am. Memories of my grandma and grandpa just flooded my mind and I tossed and turned all night. Instead, I took some drowsy medicine and fell asleep.

Then there are some that questioned his relationship with me. He's not my real grandfather, to tell you the truth. We have different surnames. Wouldn't that strike you as odd, him being my paternal grandfather? The thing is, my biological grandfather died before I was born. He had two wives. I called one Lou-Ma, and the other Ma-Ma. Ma-Ma remarried, and by marriage, became my grandfather, the only one I call Ye-Ye, the only Ye-Ye I know. Throughout the years there were arguments and disputes within the Chow family. Even my parents called Ye-Ye "Uncle". But I wasn't old enough to understand any of it.

My Ma-Ma died eleven years ago, around this time of the year, before Depot Road was redeveloped. Her wake was held at the now non-existent basketball court in front of their block of flats. At that time, it seemed like a little bit of my Ye-Ye had died along with her. I felt like a little bit of me had, too. After that, my Dai-Gu-Jeung severed all contact, and slowly my extended family drifted apart. Immediately, as an eleven year-old, I missed the closeness that my family used to have. We'd gather every now and then at my Sam Suk's place and just eat, talk and have fun.

I honestly didn't want to go to the wake. Funerals are so depressing in my opinion. I would rather like to remember him as when he was alive, cheerful, always smiling, laughing, making jokes. My mother chided me, saying I should at least pay my respects to him, even though I didn't want to attend. There are some things you HAVE to do even if you don't "feel like it", she had said. So I agreed, and we hailed a cab to Tanglin Halt, where the wake was held in a huge yellow tent.

We sat down at an empty table. My "aunt", who is a year younger than me, looked at me and went, "Eh? Lei hou sok leh... Ngor mm gei tuck hiong bin dou gin dou lei leh." (Eh? You are very familiar.. I don't remember where I saw you before.) I reminded her that I was her senior in secondary school, and then it dawned on her. My Ye-Ye is her mother's brother after all, which explains our "rank" within the family.

My Gu-Ma (probably like the rest of my extended family, isn't my real aunt) showed up later on, and then the three of us went to pay our respects at the altar, before going to see Ye-Ye for the last time. I looked at his face. It was calm and serene. A little chalky, but that's understandable. He was dressed in traditional Chinese costume, too. Blue and red, with gold brocade and trimming. I lingered a little longer at his casket than my aunt and mom, before rejoining them at that empty table.

I sat down, but I kept looking over at where the casket was, with a framed portrait photograph of my Ye-Ye. It was a beautiful picture, and he was smiling so happily in it, the way I remember him. I couldn't stop looking at it. I want to remember his smiling face, not his puffy, made-up face lying underneath a glass panel.

It was then when I realized how much he really meant to me, and how much I missed him being around. But yet I didn't cry. I couldn't cry. I wanted to burst out, but something stopped me. I didn't know what it was.

The cortege left this morning, but Stacy had signed for two days worth of compassionate leave, giving me Monday off as well. So I asked her what I was supposed to do, and she sent a message to my bosses asking for their opinion. One of them actually replied saying I should get unpaid leave instead, and added that the deceased is not related to me by blood. What has that got to do with anything?

Then I was told that in order for my leave to be approved, I needed to show proof of his death. Now where am I supposed to get that? My family isn't close to his sisters, which is understandable. They didn't publish an obituary either, at least not in the English papers. I have yet to check the Chinese papers. Why is everyone making such a big deal out of my leave?

I just felt like screaming at everyone to fuck off, honestly. My grandfather just passed away. Sure he may not be related to me by blood, but that doesn't mean he didn't marry my grandmother and take me on as his granddaughter by marriage! If they want to fuck me up all because of this leave issue, I say fuck it. I have seven days worth of annual leave which I cannot cash. I'll just take one day or two off and leave it as that. The last thing I need is any complication rising out of a trivial matter like this. I just want to scream at all of them. I just want to scream at all of them and tell them not to fucking assume that they know the inner-workings or complicated relationships in my family.

Then the tears finally started flowing.

I guess Brandon was right in a way. "Even though you don't talk to each other, don't acknowledge each other, you're still family. But that's just a NUT way of thinking. Being related by name or by blood is overrated. There's no more such thing as blood is thicker than water." I thought back of all the time we spent together, most of my childhood. He played a part in my upbringing, both him and Ma-Ma. Ye-Ye may not be related to me by blood or by name.. But he is my grandfather.

. // prawninator | 01:16 + ~

Friday, October 20, 2006

I registered for a shot at the Green Card Lottery quite some time ago, almost a year, but finally got off my ass to submit a proper (American-sized) passport photograph and thus completing my application a few weeks ago.

Yesterday, I received this in my e-mail inbox.

Dear Perlin Chow,

We are happy to inform you that your American Green Card Application has been successfully reviewed by our experts and found eligible to participate in the program conducted by the BCIS offices of the United States Government.

Successful applicants will be notified by phone, email and fax multiple times by the USAFIS Organization.

The winning notifications will be sent between April and June of the next year, along with instructions on how to apply for an immigrant visa.

Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements under U.S. law to be issued a Green card visa.

Good luck on your Green Card Application, and thank you for choosing The USAFIS Organization to handle your American Green Card Lottery Application.


The USAFIS Organization

I know it's just an application approval. It doesn't even mean that I've won. It just means that my application will not be disqualified this time round like it was last year, due to a missing photograph. I honestly do hope that I get it this time, though. Just like everyone else who applied for it, I guess. But even so, I hope I'm lucky enough. I don't like to gamble, but this is a chance I'm willing to take.

Well... I'm nervous as hell, but I'm crossing my fingers. Wish me luck!

. // prawninator | 03:56 + ~

Sunday, October 15, 2006

After five long years...

Five... years...

Long... arduous years...

... I had a haircut today.

My hair has gone from butt-length to slightly below shoulderblade length. It feels weird to have so much weight lifted off my scalp, and the fact that I can't swing my hair about with as much dramatiqué than I could before. I'm beginning to miss it, seriously.

Linus was playing with my chopped off ponytail while I was having my hair neatened up at The Hairsmith Salon (131 Tanglin Road Level 2 A/W TUDOR COURT). He flipped it at me, and at Jane... and I was near the crying point because more than half the length of my hair had been removed.

Oh well, at least I have fewer split ends now.

...that, and I'm starting to like Viennese food.

. // prawninator | 22:55 + ~

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I swear it on my life. I actually received a call at about four in the morning from an unknown number beginning with +861, but I didn't know about it until I checked my phone when I woke up about six hours later.

If my mother hadn't sent me the following forwarded message, I would have called back, considering how many friends I have from overseas. It's a good thing she knew about that little fact.

Anyway, take note, okay?

From: Grace Chow
Mailed-By: hotmail.com
To: KniveZ_CMi@hotmail.com, Me
Date: Oct 6, 2006 7:47 AM
Subject: FW: Don't call back if you get this phone number on your handphone

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: tungchey
To: [ Undisclosed-Recipient:; ]
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 2006 23:09:21 +0800
Subject: Fw: Don't call back if you get this phone number on your handphone
Sep 26, 2006
The Straits Times

IF YOU get a missed call starting with +861 (the full number is +8613713467924), do not call back.

It's the latest prank which could incur you high IDD charges unknowingly. My colleague's husband happened to return the call and it was an answering machine. He was shocked to see an enormous phone bill when he received it later. He then approached the service provider, but it could not reverse the charges. He had no choice but to pay up.

On Aug 30, I also received the same missed call.

Luckily I did not return the call as it was an anonymous phone number.
So, beware of such callers.

Lynn Lee
Senior Staffing Specialist
GMP Recruitment
A division of The GMP Group

-----Original Message-----
From: Azhar AM
Sent: Monday, September 25, 2006 2:13 PM
To: desmondlhh@singtel.com
Subject: Re: fyi, pls

Hi Desmond,

Are you aware of such info?




Subject fyi, pls

Hi Azhar,

I would want to highlight an issue to you.

Recently, some officers from my team had received few missed calls from an unknown number that starts with +861 in our personal and police issued handphones.

We did not return the call. To our understanding, it is the latest spam going on which we would incur high IDD charges unknowingly if we call back.

Appreciate if you could bring to the attention to our division if you are aware of this matter.

Thank you.

Tan Kian Ann
DHQ Team Delta
Tanglin Police Div

. // prawninator | 13:42 + ~

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My mother came up to me and showed me the phone bill for the residential line I use most often. Turned out that the money owed amounted to $200 this month. Even my mobile phone bill has gone up to $130. I've already been set back for various things. I even had to pay for my father's travel insurance for his month-long voluntary trip to Indonesia. That itself set me back $105.

I checked my savings, and found that I am $200 in the negative in savings this month. Which means that I've overstepped my supposed limit by $400. Transport fare hikes. Food price hikes. Hike this, hike that. But my salary remains the same.

The reason why my phone bills are so high is because Karl and I have no other direct means to establish communication. I cannot use MSN at work, and that's when he's usually online. Instead, we try to call each other, even if for a little while. For a few minutes before he goes to bed, he calls and we chat a little. For a few minutes before I go to bed, I call and we chat a little. But it's getting to a point when I can't even afford to communicate with him. It's getting extremely difficult for my family and I, for Karl and myself, and the both of us are feeling the strain, but I want to be strong.

My mother again nagged at me to go do my degree. I can't even afford my next meal let alone pay tens of thousands of dollars for four years of my life a piece of paper with a fancy seal and signature on it. But if I don't continue studying, I'll continue earning nothing. And if I continue earning nothing, I'll never be able to afford going to school. It's a vicious poverty cycle that I've found myself to be stuck in.

I earn USD$6,000 a year.
That's USD$500 a month.
That's USD$250 a fortnight.
That's USD$125 a week.

I know of people who earn $6k a MONTH. Seriously though. How many people honestly, can live on such earnings nowadays in society like this? You might tell me, "You can, because you don't own a car and you don't pay rent."

For the record, I don't own a car because:
#1. I do not have a license.
#2. I cannot afford to get a license.
#3. I do not have a car.
#4. I cannot afford to get a car.

And I do pay rent. Once in a while, when I'm not too strapped. Luckily my mother doesn't push me for it. I earn less than she does and am already more self-sufficient than I was before. She understands that I too experience woes when it comes to money. And she doesn't press me for much anymore now that I've taken to sleeping on the couch to save electricity from air-conditioning.

I don't love money.
But I cannot deny I need it.

When I mentioned earlier that I can't even afford my next meal, I'm serious. At this rate, I might never be with Karl. But there's more to this than just being able to afford things you need or want. I'm trying my best to be strong and to pull through this.

Charles asked me tonight, why I'm in such a good mood. Truth is, I'm hiding it all. I feel embarrassed to be classified as a borderline needy person, and I hate feeling helpless. I look at myself and feel fortunate compared to some others in the sense that I still have a job, but yet I look at things on the flip side of the coin, and I feel extremely... helpless.

Some of my bosses' clients are already established in their chosen industry. Many of them are just a year or two older than me. In fact, one of them is 25 and he's already a certified doctor with a certain hospital. Compared to them, I feel like such a loser sometimes.

So far though, I've been blessed by having Karl by my (proverbial) side, some of my more understanding friends and co-workers around me. I feel fortunate enough that I'm not entirely abandoned and left to fend for myself in my poverty cycle.

I guess in a way, I am lucky.

. // prawninator | 01:58 + ~

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Stacy, Jane and I had signed up a few weeks ago for the BodyShop Makeover (Make Me Fabulous I think it was called) held at the Marina Square Atrium yesterday afternoon. We made out like bandits. Sort of. Well, I pretended to be a member (borrowed mom's Membership card) and got myself a freebie, on top of the other freebies we received. That, and a $50 voucher for on-the-spot purchases, woo hoo!

It was an interesting experience. I never had makeup put on by someone else before. Even when I was in the school choir, I did my own makeup. Then again I never mixed well with anyone else, so it was understandable. The lady started by asking me what kinda of look I wanted to go for. "Something other than the office getup" was what I said. She went on to give me a smoky purple look. I looooove it. She chose my favorite color right off the bat!

And then there was the hair guy. Gosh, I could have died. He was just taking my hair, tying bunches of it into oddly positioned ponytails with rubber bands and started throwing them around my head before securing it with bobby pins. SEVENTEEN of them. He had said something along the lines of, "Your hair is so long that I just want to see how I can play around with it." Apparently, he did.

So... here are the results.

Before and after hair, anyway.

This was before I had my hair tousled and flung about.

The photographer made me take off my glasses. :(

I should probably smile more.

Group shot! That's Jane in the middle, and Stacy on the right.

I just found this concept interesting. ZOMGIMONAMAGAZINECOVER

Whaddya think? Chris says that I look gorgeous (does this mean I don't otherwise??!), but I don't know, I need to lose a lot more weight. That, and I need actual sleeves on my arms. *watches self-consciousness go up and self-esteem go down a notch*

. // prawninator | 17:28 + ~

To whoever you are, wherever you are, I love you. I probably don't know you yet, but when I do, I'll know, and so will you. And you'll love me for who I am, as will I.

You might be living in my neighbourhood, or some other town or country far away. I don't know. And neither do you, at this point.

Wherever you are, I know I'll find you... if you don't find me first.

It's just a matter of time.

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