Thursday, October 1, 2020

Goodbye Mom

Mom, my very first role model, a comforting cold hand on a feverish forehead. Always happy to hear from us regardless of the time. Our biggest fan, sometimes embarrassingly so. Occasionally, I wondered who exactly she was talking about in such glowing terms when on the phone with a friend of hers, only to was me (or my brothers). Always hoping for a yes to staying up late to watch old British thrillers and eat ice cream. And if you wandered into the kitchen early the next morning, there she was drinking coffee (when did she sleep?) Excited to hear your news, rejoicing when it was good and comforting when it was bad. 

She could sometimes fudge the truth like when she convinced my husband to accompany her to the summer market and it turned out to be three markets and he forever after joked that to keep up with my Mom one needed the stamina of a marathoner, noting with chagrin, that once home she still managed to cook spaghetti alle vongole for 10 people. Or when she told her grandchildren to call her Bronte even though her name was Norma. "I always liked the name Bronte," she reasoned. Or untrustworthy, like when she gave you recipes and left out key ingredients..."You mean I didn't tell you about the parsley/parmigiano/garlic..." 

But mainly she was the person you called to tell stuff, from the mundane to the profane: books in excruciating detail, delicious meals eaten with friends, and funny mishaps in the kitchen. I will miss that unwavering, totally biased love for my kids, her positive attitude, and encouraging words. But most of all, I will miss her voice on the phone saying: "Jen?!" even though she was the one who had called. Or laughing when I would answer with the catch phrase: "Well, well, well...look who it is." The silent afternoons loom large without the daily calls I realize only now just how much I took for granted.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tropical Nights

“The air was thick with humidity, but instead of feeling damp, it seemed lush. Like the whole city had just stepped out of the tub, and hadn’t quite gotten its robe on.”

― M.L.N. HanoverDarker Angels

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Shakespeare & Company

When I lived in Paris right after college, this bookshop was one of my favorite haunts and the very first book I bought here was Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage." Always top on any book recommendation list I give. If you had told me then that I would be coming back one day with my own kids, I wouldn't have believed it.

Last summer in Paris.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

November in the Tropics

November is so dreary...
When my daughter woke up on the day of her 12th birthday party sick, my first thought was: "I am not rescheduling this party." When it became clear that I would indeed have to locate the numbers of 15 disparate parents of classmates and call them exactly one hour before they were due, I did what any caring parent would do: I tried to evaluate just how sick my daughter was. Would nausea and stomach spasms really be that bad? When propping her up on a pillow no longer seemed like a feasible option, I made the call(s) and cancelled the party. I was feeling pretty good about my sense of calm and alacrity dealing with the situation until the phone rang: "Hello, I'm H's dad..." With a bit of dread, I looked outside the balcony and saw a man with a present and a girl next to him. Oh no, someone had slipped through the cracks. Turns out, the mom was preoccupied with a sick baby and hadn't seen her phone.
Once the party was cancelled, I was secretly thinking: "Oh well, better luck next year." But no, turns out cancelling to Eliot just meant by one week, not a year. So I baked another chocolate cake, called the pizza guy, contacted all the parents (again), and hoped that there would not be a thunder storm on the day (there was, but then luckily the sun came out).
And it was all worth it. Well at least until bedtime, when after thanking me with  big hug, she smiled and said: "I think this year we should have a Christmas party." 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Once Upon a Time, My Mom

Being faraway from loved ones is hard but it helps when my brothers and I receive an email that says: "I wish I could gather you all up in one big hug." One thing that doesn't change with time or distance is my Mom's way with words.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Silver Lining

Last night, I was having a hard time helping my daughter come up with a silver lining for the last minute cancellation of her birthday party due to being sick the other day. This morning, looking for something to eat with my coffee, I may have found it after all. 

LIfe in the Tropics

When you spot a leaf on the ground and remember it's autumn. #lifeinthetropics

Photo by Eliot

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Life in the Heartland

Life in the Singapore heartland plays out in its ubiquitous HDB flats managed by the House and Development Board. The breakaway drama Ilo Ilo which I finally managed to see also takes place in an HDB. The old people gather to play cards and drink coffee in the open area on the ground floor. Not unlike the open air caf├ęs in Italian piazzas.

Block 742 Tampines Street 72

Post Training Snack

Best part of accompanying my kids to camp during school break is that my son finishes his training before my daughter, so I can go with him to the nearby food court where he has a light morning snack of Char Siew Rice with duck. Not very Italian but perfectly Singaporean. Swimmers sure are hungry after training.
Tampines Street 72 Hawker Center

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sydney Days

Sydney, 10 years later. I was last here for my PhD ceremony at the University of Sydney and before that 14 years ago,  when we lived on lovely Elizabeth Street with a two year old in tow. This past weekend, I got to walk down memory lane... And because it was beautiful and breezy, in a sweater no less.
Bondi to Bronte walk (photo creds Eliot)

Humidity Doesn't Travel

Hair that stays straight for more than a few minutes is disconcerting. Until you remember that you are not in Singapore.
Bondi Icebergs Club, Sydney