Saturday, April 25, 2009

Copy Cat

I was at dinner with a few friends, and in the course of our conversation, I noticed that one of my friends was carrying a new handbag. A new ridiculously and over the top expensive handbag. I kicked one of my other friends (can we call her A? If I use her real name, she could totally beat the crap out of me) and rolled my eyes towards the bag - a code for her to follow. She followed my directions and gasped at the bag: one she had wanted for weeks but simply could not bring her heart to go out and buy on account of the recession and all. It didn't seem like wise spending (or something like that).

The other girls began to notice, so we then went into our usual "oh I just looovvveee your bag!" and "ohmigod your bag would look so great with that red dress you have!" talk, you know, how we girls always talk, and in the stereotype borderline shrieking manner too.

The owner of the new flashy handbag, let's call her C (so she doesn't kill me - which she would if I revealed her real name), blushed a bit at the hysteria surrounding her bag, and quickly justified that her husband had bought it for her for their anniversary the week before. Funny, we had dinner in April. Her anniversary is in June. But anyway... if that was her story, then that was her story - I kept my mouth shut.

A few days later, I met one of the girls again (let's call her B) by chance at a mall while I was shopping for some shoes for my son (actually, that was my excuse to my husband. I actually went shoes shopping for me). B, evidently had done some shopping herself because to my complete and utter shock, she was carrying the exact same bag C had...! I knew it was brand new because that night during dinner, B basically said that she would kill to have the same bag, and spent the entire night staring at the stupid bag while the rest of us were busy discussing how Kris Allen from American Idol was better at the song choice and arrangements but Danny Gokey was better vocally.

Anyway, I thought to myself, OK, so she liked the bag and bought it too. Whatever. So I moved on and went back to my shopping. About ten minutes later, my Blackberry started Ping-ing, and I had gotten a BBM (Blackberry Message) from D - this friend of mine who lives in Singapore. Her message was this: OMG! Remember that girl I was telling u abt that keeps copying d way I dress & buying d same stuff I do? She came 2 d office 2day wearing the exact same dress I wore ysterday!!

I am rarely speechless. As you can see from various posts, I seem to have an opinion about everything - be it important or extremely lame and not even worth mentioning. And after reading the BBM I got, I was speechless. For exactly 7 minutes.

The familiarity of what she said, and what I had seen earlier with B reminded me of a friend I used to have who would copy everything I wore too. If I came in with a new bag on Monday, she'd wear one on Tuesday. If I had new shoes on Friday, you'd better believe she'd be in the office on Monday bright and early sporting the exact same ones.

It was (and is) simply mind-boggling. Why do these people feel the need to copy others? What exactly was wrong with just being themselves? Having taste of their own? Having their own flare, style and preference? And I'm not talking about things like us normal people copying what celebs wear in the magazines and stuff, I am referring to these total copy cats who follow you obsessively, nearly being 'Single White Female' material!

Sure, sure, we should probably be somewhat proud that we are apparently setting trends of some sort. But really, how is anyone supposed to be original, authentic, and strikingly different anymore if in two seconds, you have copy cats following your exact wardrobe?

A Twitter friend once tweeted that people should be happy with who they are and stop trying to be someone else. He too, like me, questioned what was wrong with just being yourself? Seriously, why can't we all just be who we really are?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Easy job? Yeah, right.

(Warning: This message is probably more suitable for high school and college kids. If you're older, you can still read and add comments where you feel necessary. If you're older but are in denial, well, who am I to judge, read on!! Haha)

Last Wednesday, this intern started working at our office.
He came into my office, all shy and seemingly innocent. He wore what was probably his nicest shirt, cotton pants and formal shoes, and shook my hand with a smile. His smile was sincere, I could tell.

After our brief shaking of hands, I led him to the room where three of my staff worked, introduced him as the new intern, and left him in their care. I laughed a bit as I walked away, thinking about that poor kid who had no idea what he was getting into. But if he was anything like me, he would walk away at the end of his internship with his head held high, knowing he was ready to face anything.

I went back and forth to that room to monitor how he was doing, and I couldn't help but feel reminiscent of my own early working days. Geez, that was a heck of a long time ago!

I started working when I was 19, almost 20. I actually celebrated my 20th birthday on the job. Why did I start so early? Easy answer, I dropped out of college. Was it a choice? Definitely not. I just couldn't afford it anymore, and couldn't get student loans. Sad right? Yeah, tell me about it. But before you go all teary eyed and feel sorry that I don't have a Bachelor degree like everyone else (well, maybe not everyone) - don't be. I am happy I started working early. By the time my friends had finished college and just started working, I was already a Manager. So woo-hoo for me! Seriously, no regrets - everything worked out for the best. And this doesn't in any way mean that it's OK to quit college halfway. If you can get your degree, then gosh darn it, go get it! Stay in school!!

Anyway, back to my rambling, I started my first job thinking it would be easy. I thought it would be like the summer jobs I used to have, you know, a temp reception kind of job where I'd answer telephones, get people coffee, copy some stuff, fax some stuff, type some stuff. I mean, with no experience and no degree, I always thought that that would be how I started off. Stress free, happy go lucky, a smile on my face every day.

Nope, that's not how I started. I was assigned to something else entirely: telemarketing sales. Oh God, it was an awful job. No offense to anyone who does it, but I really, really, really hated it. I hated that I had to wear a headset all day long that would automatically dial a new number as soon as I hung up on the previous call (without so much as a single minute's break!), I hated that I could hear myself breath through the mouth piece on the stupid headset, I hated that I was calling people and interrupting them, I hated when they were rude to me on the phone, I hated when they would hang up on me without even letting me speak first, I hated that some guys actually tried to hit on me over the phone, and I certainly hated that even though I made a sale, it didn't make me hate the job any less. Did I mention I hated the job?

At times, I would get so stressed over going to work that I would get heartburn and end up feeling sick and barfing the whole day. No joke!

But you know, after a few weeks, I managed to get a grip and suck it up. Thanks to Mom dearest who kept reminding me that I needed the experience, the network, because I might have good use for all of it one day. She told me that everyone has to start from something crappy, in order to be able to have a deeper appreciation for other things, that other things will seem much more rewarding.

In the end, I stayed at that job for nearly two years, got promoted twice (that means 2x the salary too) and transferred to a much more interest job in the marketing and communications department and that job was basically how I got introduced to the job I have now (which I have had for the last NINE years). Rewarding? Yup, I think so. Was it easy to come by? Not at all.

At the end of the day, this is what I think: every first job will be basically pretty crappy - but if you work hard, pay your dues, and try to learn everything there is about that job, eventually it will equip you to be ready for something bigger and better that's patiently waiting around the corner for you. It's never going to be easy, and don't ever let your young, naive, innocent college brains think it will be. Trust me, it's going to be hard. But it's going to be worth it, more than you could possibly imagine.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I met a friend of mine a few days ago, someone who I hadn't seen in a while. We exchanged a quick conversation, then went our separate ways, with her saying 'I'll call you! We'll have lunch on Tuesday!' just before she hopped into her fancy black car.

Tuesday passed... she never called.
And while I sat pondering why, I realized that when I saw her in October of last year, she said the same thing, and that led me to remember how we met before that and she also said the same thing! It got me wondering, if she didn't really mean it, why did she keep saying it?

The more I asked around, the more I realized that this happens to everyone! Guys tell girls they'll call after a first date all the time, and never so much as look at the phone afterward - I hear of this the most. My husband said he has a friend who does that to him too, says he'll call but never does, and I just can't help but wonder why? What happened to the good old days when teachers and parents used to remind us to not say something that's not true? Or when our folks used to remind us that a promise is a promise, and we needed to keep them?

Look, it's not as if the world crumbles if they don't call - of course not. We keep it in the back of our mind and life goes on, sure. But I just don't get why people would waste their time and energy just to say something like they'll call when they have no intention of doing so? Is saying something now just a combination of a bunch of words that just happen to form sentences? Have words lost their power and respect from people? Do words mean nothing anymore?

Well, they should. Seriously.
Words should be said and meant. They were created for a reason: to be used and honored - not just to fill in a few minutes of awkward silence and be disregarded. Words have power. They can make someone fall or rise, they can make the world change for the better or for the worse. So why aren't we using our words wisely?

Monday, April 13, 2009

To be or not to be...skinny...

I have never been one to be faithful to sport, exercise or any kind of movement whatsoever. Well, besides running around after my kids, but I don't think that counts. Or does it? Oh, and let's not forget walking around shopping centers in super high heels. Yep, that should definitely count as exercise. Anyway, in order to get rid of the 10 or so pounds left of flab I still had on my body post maternity (second baby, Mikaela Natascha born Feb 08), I joined a fitness club near my office so I could go and work out before going to work. At that point in time, I had a new found respect for waking up at 5am to rush to the gym and have a full two hour work out before work. Awesome, right? Are you feeling the urge to applaud? OK, now, hands down please. It only lasted three months... :) *cheeks blushing in embarrassment*

Anyway, from day one of starting the whole gym thing, I noticed one thing. More women were members of this gym than men. I had this idea in my head that men would dominate the fitness world, with them hovering over the bench lifting weights and trying to have six packs or eight packs or chocolate bar abs, or whatever they call it now. Oddly enough however, I only found 4 men working out that morning, while 19 women (excluding me) were buzzing around the gym. And if you think they were sitting together gossiping or chit chatting, you are so wrong. None of them even spoke a word to each other, and were dead seriously working out. Except for me, naturally, I was too busy observing.

From day two onwards to day 45, I still saw the same women every single time. What amazed me was, I only worked out twice a week - and that was already enough to cause aches and pains all over my obviously untrained body - but these women worked out every day, seven days a week! Not a single day off unless truly sick, the kind of sick that would keep them strapped to their beds. I couldn’t understand this for the life of me.
Curiously, I started asking them while in the locker room after the sauna and showers. Woman A said, “I have to, if I don’t work out, my legs start getting all flabby and my husband gets completely turned off!” while woman B said, “I didn’t used to work out every day, but my wedding day is in 67 days so I have to make sure I fit into my dress properly. I purposely made it 2 sizes smaller”. Ok then!

Woman C had a completely different reason, “ I have a health condition, so I have to make sure I exercise at least 45 minutes a day, but light exercise” similar to woman D who was only walking on the treadmill everyday for 35 minutes because that is what she did at physical therapy anyway, and felt it was cheaper to join a gym. But woman E through to woman S all had one thing in common with woman A and B: they felt the need to be slim.

Why is it such a prerequisite these days that in order to be looked at, to be liked, to be attracted to and to feel good about yourself, there is a need to look into the mirror and be able to recognize and say, “I am slim” or even some to the extreme of “I am skinny”? Who says you look better when you're slim?

OK, maybe it's because I am not exactly skinny either that I feel so strongly about this. But I never understood it - and believe me, I am one of those people who insists that I need to be slim. That's why my recent posts on Twitter and Facebook have been all about the guilt in eating what I want in the portion that I want , and the guilt is has grown more and more ridiculous by the day.

I recently posted a question, asking if it was better to eat less and feel hungry and pissed all day, or to eat more and feel guilty all day. Almost everyone answered "eat more" seemingly to say that they didn't care about looks and simply wanted to be happy, but I know for a fact that those people who answered also look into their mirrors every single day and wished they were model-like skinny.

In Sunday School, we were taught to love ourselves no matter who we were, in whatever shape, size, color we came in, because we were created unique and special - yet we hate being different anyway. Our parents have taught us that beauty lies in the inside, i.e brains, heart, passion, love and not looks - yet everyday we fear going to school because the skinny and popular girls at school would pick on us for being a bit heavy. Articles in magazines and newspapers talk about real women, real curves, being proud of your body - yet we turn to the other page, see a model in a bikini and feel bad about ourselves. Celebrities have blogged about loving their so-called cellulite and curves, and say it's OK to be size 2, 4, 6, 8 - whatever. But then they too, turn around and go the skinny route, flashing their bones on the red carpet.

Folks, I have a dream. I dream that one day, we'll all be truly happy with who we are. I dream that the world would not judge us for being larger than a size 0, and that people would really see past everything physical and love us for who we are inside. I dream that we can all accept and just be grateful of what we look like... Flesh, fat, cellulite and all, and happily eating carbs even though we know our jeans size may go up afterwards - because the size won't matter.
Who's with me?!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Parent Pressure

I spent about an hour and a half on the phone with a friend recently. It was one of many conversations we've had in the past few years that we've been friends, and every time, our conversations boiled down to the same thing: we were complaining about our parents.

This time, the story was: her Dad sent a text giving his 'opinion'. Then, Mom sent a text asking if a decision had been made, and of course, then slipping in a line or two about what she thought needed to be done. Then Dad. Then Mom. Then Dad. Then Mom. Then Dad. Then she just got tired and turned off her phone for a few hours... ;) - which all sounded freakishly familiar.

During my entire childhood and teenage years, I heard people (mostly my parents) talk about peer pressure, how not to succumb to the influences of our peers: to be who I wanted to be, do what I wanted to do, not to give in just because our peers tell us we would be uncool not to follow them.

As a grown up now, I have one question: why didn't anyone warn us about parent pressure?

Parents - or rather mine and my friend's - can be just as bad as peers. In fact, I think to some degree they are worse. Not only do they try and influence the decisions we make involving our marriage, how to raise our kids, what to feed our family at the dinner table and which insurance company to use, but they actually try and guilt us in the process!

The classic line I hear all the time is "we're not getting any younger" and "who knows how many years I have left" - all the while, they are still healthy as a horse and take handfuls of vitamins daily. Goodness gracious! They use these kind of lines and I am the one they call a drama queen?

The worst part of parent pressure is that as a wife, I sometimes have to be in the middle between what they think, what they want me to do, and what my husband wants me to do - and believe me, they couldn't be more different! My parents want this, my husband wants that, and no one seems to care even a tiny bit about what I want. It doesn't matter, evidently.

So, what's a girl to do? Me, well I just close my eyes and ears, and just do what I want. What I think is right. Same goes for my friend, who has chosen to unplug her land line and turn off her cell phone for the past few hours, and has been talking to me on Yahoo Messenger instead.

One way or another, parents are just going to have to face the facts: we're all grown up now. Yes, we appreciate inputs, suggestions and feedback, but NO, we don't have to agree with everything you say. You may have our best interest at heart, but we have to be able to make our own decisions otherwise we'll never be who we really are. If you think adolescent peer pressure is so bad, well then, parent pressure ranks high up in the list too.

C'mon, guys, let us grow up. We can't be your little kids forever.

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's an odd world we live in...

I was minding my own business - I swear - and all of a sudden, I notice a very (very) pretty girl falls. Or pretends to fall - I'm not sure. Well, actually, I'm pretty sure it was 'pretend to fall' because it was just the classic move I would have done back in the day when I was carefree and single.

So she 'falls' right in front of a group of guys: 3 incredibly handsome jock types, and 1 geeky looking dude with glasses, spiked hair and enough product in his hair to last normal people a lifetime.

When she fell, the ONLY person who reacted was the geeky looking guy. He was wearing this 'way too big' t-shirt with oddly shaped jeans, that did not do him any good at all. In reflex, he grabbed the girl by the arm, thus preventing her from falling flat on her ass.

When this happened, I thought to myself, 'whoa, great reflexes!', and then I thought, the girl is going to thank the guy and be forever grateful. Or something that normally happens in movies: a quick peck on the cheek in gratitude - which would make the geek blush, drop his head down and then his friends would start to whistle and woo, and start punching him in the arm saying things like 'way to go, tiger' or something. (note to self: stop watching cheesy movies.)

Was that what happened, you ask? Absolutely not!
Instead, pretty girl got up, looked furious, and pulled geek boy aside. She - in a high pitched voice - said something like 'how dare you touch me!' and quite possibly said something along the line of 'you weren't supposed to save me!' I didn't hear it word for word, but it seemed like that was what she said.

Geek boy, terrified and starting to perspire, apologized to her roughly twenty times or so, and looked like he was going to start hyperventilating. His friends, who were not more that a foot away from them, stood there, laughing at him.

I couldn't help but shake my head as I saw all of this. Three things were extremely, extremely wrong in this whole scenario.

One: what the heck was pretty girl screaming at this guy for?! He helped her! He grabbed her just in time so she wouldn't hurt her pretty little bum! Shouldn't she have been grateful at the heroic act? Just because he was geeky looking and wasn't one of the cute jocks she apparently had been eyeing on, does that mean geek boy doesn't deserve gratitude? What, he isn't good enough to save her?

Two: geek boy apologized? For what?! Why on earth was he saying sorry for doing a good thing? Was he apologizing for not being the guy she wanted him to be? It wouldn't have been a problem if he was saying 'sorry I saved you' - as in regretting ever laying a hand on her. But saying sorry because he wasn't supposed to save her? What the heck was that? Low self esteem?

Three: his friends stood there laughing. No one came up to save him! It was actually a bit sick how they enjoyed watching him being tortured by pretty girl.

I'm confused. What is wrong with society? Is everyone so twisted these days that everyone has a classification now: geek boy, pretty girl, jock, and so they don't mix together? Is self esteem so low these days that people have to apologize for being who they are instead of being proud or content with their personality? Are people so shallow these days that just because someone doesn't look as good as others, they automatically get crossed off the list as human beings?

I'll tell you another sick thing about this whole story: I can't think of any other way to describe geek boy, pretty girl and jock!

This society needs help. Desperately. What will become of us if we keep doing this?

Sunday, April 5, 2009


So - I was up to chapter 7 of a new novel I was working on. I was excited about it and had tons of pages in my head ready to be poured out onto my trusted computer. I had stacks of little post-its that I used to jot down ideas before I forgot them. I mean, come on, let's be real here, my memory hasn't been all that trustworthy lately. I was really in to it, you know, worked up and totally stoked to be writing another novel.

And then... it came. Rejection letter number 3 for the first novel I wrote and sent out.

I know I have written about rejection before, and people may already be sick of this. But now, it's not just about dealing with the rejection. Now it's also about what happens after that.

Getting rejected is hard. To quote Seinfeld - yada yada yada. I'm not even going to go through how I feel about getting rejected again. What I'm dealing with now is basically trauma.

See, the thing is, I have now completely stopped writing the 2nd novel, for fear that it will just get rejected again, and that there would be absolutely no bloody point in finishing it! In my head, I hear those 'voices' tell me that I would be wasting my time finishing it, so I just sort of shut it off. Completely off. I can't even think of anything to write about if I had a gun pointed to my head now! How terrible is that?

Everything boils down to one thing. FEAR. It ain't pretty, people.
It keeps you from doing the things you want to do. It keeps you from going out on a limb, giving it your all, and just doing it. It keeps you heart guarded - I'll give it that - but is that really the way to live?

My husband kept feeding me with stories on how JKF Jr failed the Bar exam like a million times before finally passing, and how someone he knew applied to his desired college like five times before finally getting accepted. I registered everything in my head, but FEAR spoke louder than logic. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of getting my ego crushed all over again.

Should I keep trying? Can I keep trying?

No idea. All I know is, I have to get rid of this fear otherwise it will rule my life. As much as I want to save myself from humiliation, I would also like to succeed. And how would I succeed if I don't try?

Am I even making any sense here?

Holy crap. I think I need help.