Thursday, April 27, 2006

Breaking the news to the top authorities... x_x

Well, within all the gleefulness of getting into a new relationship, there must come the not-so-gleeful time of telling the top authorities, otherwise known as the parents, about the new guy in my life. I supposed since it's pretty much official now, I should be telling my mum and dad soon or else they might find out some other way and I'd get into trouble for not telling them myself. But then, my dad is the typical Chinese stick-in-the-mud kinda guy who will keep telling me "When I was younger I didn't started 'pak toh-ing' until I finished my studies and got a good job and was making my own money, bla ble bla ble bla bla...". Trust me, it's one of the many talks I hear so many times from him I could repeat it over and over like a broken tape recorder. So I didn't really know how to tell him. I think he sorta had an idea that I was going to Malacca to see a 'special guy' but I think he just didn't want to think about it. But today, he saw that very beauuuuutiful sunset pic of me with Gerald as my laptop wallpaper and he had this funny look on his face for a while before he finally asked who the heck is that. Sooooo what to do but to tell him lor. Fortunately, even though my dad's a stick-in-mud kinda guy in his belief about 'pak toh-ing', he's also pretty easy going and makes dumb jokes all the time. So after I told my dad a bit about my guy, he wanted to get a better look at the picture to see if my bf 'looked like a crook'. And once he did, he said "Yeah, he looks like a crook".... In a joking way, of course.... and I just rolled my eyes at him as I always do when he does that. Haha, I know Gerald will read this, so don't worry, dear. My dad will probably ask you all sorts of silly things, but he's not that bad. And he really doesn't have a rifle anymore. :Þ

So that was one parent down. My mum, I was a bit more worried about, coz' I met Gerald through the net, and she's hears all these stories about guys who chat up girls on the net and make the girls do all sorts of stupid things for them (like meet up with the guys then get raped, or give all their savings to them, etc...). And it doesn't help that her own sister, who is only a few years younger than her (but quite a eccentric character, IMHO) knew this guy on the net from the US, and she went all the way there to see him, only for him to fleece her of her money. So basically, I know my mum has the idea that all guys on the net are crooks. :Þ So maybe I should've waited til he was going to come see me in Subang before I actually told her more about him. Coz' I decided to tell her today, and she seemed pretty ok with the idea of me being with a guy.... until she found out that I met him through the internet only a few months ago. Then she flipped out and gave me a good earful about all the crazy guys there are on the net... *Sigh* She doesn't seem to remember that there are millions of people who use the net (half of whom are guys, of course) and while of course there are quite a few bad hats who use the internet to fool other people for their gain, there are a lot more people are normal and don't have such bad intentions. There are soooo many people who meet through the internet and then meet up in real life and become pretty good friends.... or more than good friends, as in my case. But of course, she doesn't know about the good internet relationships coz' all she reads about in the news are the internet scams and paedophiles and rapists and so on. Of course, I would've loved to try and talk some logic into her, but from experience, trying to explain why I do what I do to her is interpreted as 'rebelling' and 'talking back', which gets her even more worked up. So I just shut up, til she decided she gave me enough of an earful. *Sigh* It's pretty frustrating when I try to make an effort to be transparent with her on something like this and she gets on my case about it without at least trying to know more first.... I don't think she can really blame me for not opening up to her. She could've asked me to explain why I like this guy, what did he do or tell me that makes me think I can trust him or something like that, instead of freaking out as soon she hears me say 'internet friend'. She's met some of my friends before, and she knows I mix around with good people, and therefore I should be a pretty good judge of character. Why does she immediately have to assume I have no brains to judge the people I meet through the net, and I'll simply fall for any nice things they hear from guys over the net? If guys wanna try and fool me, what difference does it make whether I know them in person or over the internet? I have met plenty of guys on the net who try to chat me up, and I didn't bother with 90% of them coz' they just didn't sound like good guys to me. I feel like letting her know that fact, but I have a feeling she won't be convinced. I suppose the only way to convince her I'm not a dumbass is to let her meet Gerald herself when he comes to see me so she'll know he's really being genuine. *Eeeee....geramgeramgeram....*

Haha, I think my Gerald is probably going to be quite stressed out when he comes to see me...or more parents! :Þ Don't worry too much dear, I'm sure they'll be nice to you... they might give me problems, but not you! :D Haha, how very reassuring of me.... o_O

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Breaking news: Carol's got a bf!

One nice thing about working as a lab demonstator and tutor is that during the semester break, I get a semester break too, where I can spend much time having fun (apparently my students did too, coz some of those crazy guys in my Bio class told me they spent the whole week partying and then stressing out over assignment during the weekend. *Sigh* The life of a student. I don't miss it just yet. :P). So I spent my sem break last week off on holiday in Malacca. And what might I be doing in Malacca, you might ask? Well, for those for don't already know coz' I haven't been gushing about him to you, I went to visit a special friend of mine whom I met online a couple of months ago or so. By 'special' friend, of course I'm sure you know I mean my new boyfriend! :D His name is Gerald and I've been getting to know him almost every night through my MSN Messenger, and I think he's super nice and sweet. Plus we have a lot in common, like we like nature and wildlife, and we both have a wacky sense of humour. And he's an older guy who's been working for quite a while as an engineer at a nice reputable semiconductor company, which is good for me coz' I've always seemed to have a thing for working older guys coz' they're usually more mature and responsible and all that good stuff. :D So after a while of chatting with him, and since my break was coming up, I decided I had enough chatting and wanted to meet him in person. And by some stroke of luck, he happened to have a few days off from work from Monday to Wednesday last week coz' he'd just come back from a business trip overseas, so we had a full 3 days to spend lepaking together! Wee!

So I took a nice cozy drive to Malacca on Monday, which is probably my longest lone drive on the highway ever, and my Kelisa didn't break down. Woohoo! I got there and met up with him near the toll gate, where he took me to the guesthouse I was planning to stay at. And after that, we just hung out with each other for the rest of the day at Mahkota Parade, getting to know each other better up close and personal. The next day we visited Malacca Zoo, and the day after that, we went to visit the Butterfly Park and watched Ice Age 2. And during the weekend, we both went to do some volunteer work at the WWF Turtle Management Centre in Masjid Tanah (about an hour away from Malacca City), which is the project I'd been planning to go on with my RIKL group members (though out of my 8 original group members, only me and another member could come. The rest were all other people!). I think on Monday, he also took me to try some Chicken Rice Balls, which is normal chicken rice rolled into the balls and served with Hainanese steamed chicken. Before that, I was never really liked steamed chicken, but omigod, I have to say that was the best steamed chicken I've had in my life! you all gotta try it when you go to Malacca! :D

Anyway, asides from the super nice chicken rice balls, every day was so fun coz' Gerald and I got along really well and even when we were just walking along together in silence, which usually gets awkward with other people, but with him I felt quite comfortable not saying anything and just walking along holding hands. Oh yeah, he's not one of those guys who doesn't like holding hands in public. Another plus point for me! And he doesn't mind saying silly mushy stuff to me, which I shall not divulge here coz' it all personal stuff, but that's also another plus point. Personality wise, I think he's practically all I could I want. Physically, maybe he's not so hot, but I dun care too much coz' that means other girls won't try to steal him away from me. :P But it would be nice for him to lose a bit more belly, and maybe grow his hair a little longer so it's nicer to run my hair through it. Haha, I know he's gonna read this sometime, so please don't kill me, dear :P I'm starting to feel a bit like a movie critic, giving him brownie points for everything I like about him. But he gets a lot of brownie points, so I'm sure he won't mind (right right? :P) Only sucky thing is that he lives so far from me, but it could be good in a way, coz' it gives us more chance to get to know each other better through chatting intead of risk being caught up in the physical aspect. Plus, we can't complain about not giving each other space coz' we both got plenty of space! Lol! We'll both work that out along the way, after some time getting to know each other better.

We took a ton of photos during my little stay there, of course. Lotsa zoo animal pics. Lotsa butterfly farm pics. And of course, some pics of us together. And you all know it takes me forever and a day to get all my pics together for your viewing pleasure, but here's just one nice little pic of the two of us during sunset at the beach near the turtle sanctuary. Try not to get too jealous, girls. Kwakwakwa! :P

I must say, I'm sure glad my love prediction for 2006 that I wrote about some time ago didn't come true. :D

Monday, April 10, 2006

Purga what?

Yesterday, after coming back from church and enjoying a little nap, I awoke to the sound of my mum giving a good piece of her mind to someone outside my room. I thought that she was probably scolding my dad again for some stupid thing, but then when I listened a but after listening a little longer, I realised that she was talking on the phone. It wasn't long before I figured out that apparently some relative from SFX, the catholic church where we had originally intended to have granny's funeral at, had told my uncle (whose wife my mum was talking to on the phone) that we had to do some stuff at their church and pay them, or else grandma's soul would remain in purgatory... that little limbo place that's not heaven or hell that the catholic church believes in. Later on when I asked my mum more about it, I found out that my dad's cousin's wife was the one who said we had to get the people at SFX to hold 30 masses for my grandma, and pay RM10 for each mass (that's Rm300 altogether) or else granny would remain in that little limbo place. Luckily, my uncle was smart enough to decline her 'offer'... and my mum definitely had a mouthful to say about it. Usually I think my mum overreacts about a lot of stuff, but this I totally agree with her that that relative is talking crap. The fact that she has the audacity to ask money from us so the church can pray for my grandma's soul pretty much speaks for itself. If they really care that my grandma gets to heaven safe and sound, they shouldn't need us to pay them to say prayers for her. And why does it have to be exactly 30 masses? Why not 40? Since it's a more 'holy' number...after all Jesus fasted for 40 days and the people of Israel walked the desert for 40 days.... Might as well pray for 40 masses right? Oh, and why should they stop there? Why don't they make us pay them by hour to say the Our Father and Hail Mary ten gazillion times for grandma and make sure she's REALLY all the way to heaven... Good grief, that woman really deserves a good smacking around. Let's not even mention the fact that purgatory isn't mentioned anywhere in the Bible....

I just did a bit of reading up on the supposed Biblical evidence for purgatory. Apparently 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 is one piece of biblical evidence that supports the idea of purgatory: :"Every man’s work shall be manifest; for the Day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, as yet by fire."
And according to the guy who supports the idea of purgatory, "In this verse, the "Day" refers to the great day of judgment when each individual will personally be called to accept responsibility for their lifetime’s actions. The reference to fire as purification for works that were not yet perfect, also illustrate the place of Purgatory, as a place for us to be purified before entering into heaven."

Errr... to me, the passage is super vague, so how did he jump to the conclusion that the fire refers to purgatory? O_O

Another supposed piece of biblical evidence is Luke 12: 58-59 "If you are to go with your opponent before the magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."
And according to the writer, "We all know that mission of parables are to describe to us a concept such as heaven, or the coming of Christ... In this parable, It is clearly understood, that when He said : "you will not be released until you have paid the last penny." Jesus is referring to the judgment day in this allegory. So He insinuates that some payment may need to be made before the judgment will be complete! "

Em... to me, another very jumpy conclusion on what Jesus meant. Of course, I myself have no idea what Jesus meant by what He said there, and sure, there is a chance that it refers to purgatory. But to point to that verse and jump up and down gleefully, saying to effect "There's the evidence! Nah!" is a bit like too premature IMHO.

The best evidence given was for purgatory was this little passage in Matthew 12:32 : “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to come"
According to the writer, "Since this world to come can’t be heaven for this person who spoke against the Holy Spirit, because people who go to heaven have no more sins to be forgiven. because heaven is a place with no sins : ( Matthew chap6 verse 20 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal...”) .It can’t be hell since this is definitely not a place to be forgiven, but to be eternally damned. as Mark said in his book,chapter 3, verse 29 :”But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost has never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation” Therefore it must be a place, not in this world, not in heaven, and not in hell, where the sin against the holy spirit can even never be forgiven."

Ok, that argument kinda makes sense, so I'll give him that. But still, the best biblical evidence for purgatory comes from a passage that is still pretty vague. And then there was an interesting point made on another site I visited... In Luke 23:42-43, when Jesus was crucified together with the two thiefs, one of them, asked Jesus to "Remember me when You come into Your kingdom". And Jesus didn't say "Well, you're gonna have to hang around purgatory for while and hope some people are kind enough to pray for you before you can get into heaven and catch up with me". Jesus said "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise". So either that guy (who was a criminal and probably had a lot of sins to 'purge') went straight into heaven, or purgatory only takes one day to get through, then into heaven you go. I think I'll just apply the Ockam's Razor principle and believe in Choice A. :Þ

Sunday, April 09, 2006

May she rest in peace

My grandma finally decided to head back home on Thursday. I got the news around 5 o' clock in the afternoon from my dad, just after coming back from work. I just kinda went "Oh" when I heard the news. I knew it was going to happen eventually, but once it had actually happened, well, it still felt surreal. On the way to the nursing home with my parents to collect the body, at the back of my mind, I was thinking, maybe she just looks like she's gone coz' she pretty much looked half dead for the past week or so. I mean, how could they tell for sure? People have made mistakes before, identifying people as dead and then they 'miraculously' came back to life or something. But as soon as I reached the nursing home and I saw my grandma, I just knew she was most definitely gone. She was lying there a little curled up with her mouth gaping and her hands across her body. And she was pale and completely motionless. She actually didn't look like she died very comfortably, and I was standing there for a while, kinda wanting to adjust her body a bit and close her mouth so she didn't look so bad, but I couldn't do it. Soon, some people from the funeral parlour came in and took her body away in a rather unceremonious fashion... they covered her in the blanket and carried the whole mattress with her on it to the hearse.

Me and my mum went home after that while my dad and uncle went off to settle the arrangements for the next day with the funeral parlour. I sms-ed my pastor and a few other people from church about my grandma, Aunty Jo, Aunty Karen and Theng Terk. I had asked Pastor Mal just a few days beforehand if he would be willing to do a prayer service for my grandma in the event of her passing, so I had to fill him in, and others too, with the details. Most of which weren't finalised yet til later that night when my dad came back. Originally we had planned to have the service at SFX, but I think the fellas there were making my dad wait too long before they could confirm anything, so we decided to use the funeral parlour for the service instead. They had a nice big hall and everything, so it was pretty convenient.

The next day, there was nothing much left to do but wait for the service at night, and since I was free, I decided to go to work anyway as I only had a one hour class. When we got to the funeral parlour later that day, we milled around with the relatives waiting for everyone else to come. It actually felt more like a normal family gathering than anything else... no one showed much sadness, my relatives were chatting about normal everyday stuff, and certainly no one was crying. My mum still had plans to go for some line dancing practice after the service (coz' she has some dancing competition going on next week) and my dad could still make jokes about sitting bulls and other weird things he jokes about which I usually think are lame. This time around, not only was it lame, but probably inappropriate. The funniest thing was during the service, my dad's phone rang...not ONCE, but TWICE while my pastor was speaking. And he actually picked it up! Later on he told me that it was one of his friends saying he couldn't come to the service... but I still scolded him a bit for not turning his handphone off or switching it to sient mode... and then he grinned and told me he didn't know how to turn it to silent mode.... X_X Good grief.... I suppose it's good that my dad and uncles cared enough for my grandma to take good care of her in her old age... but the fact that her own children seemed so stoic towards her passing was pretty sad. But maybe it was also coz' she was old and everyone was pretty much ready for her to go anytime. I wasn't the only one who had expectations of how people would react though. When my friend Mei Ling called me that night to say her condolences, I picked up and said "What's up?", and she was like "Er...ok, you sound pretty normal..." Haha, I guess if I can react like that, what can I say about other people who do the same? :P

The time when I really felt emo was during the prayer service when my pastor started playing Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art. I kinda cried a wee bit then for some reason, I think just coz' the music was so emo. :Þ And I was pretty touched by the number of people from my church who came. I only told a few people the day before, and I think more than 25 people turned up. I was pretty blown away by it. I think my mum was touched by it too, and after the service, I overheard her saying to my mum how she liked what my pastor said during his message and that she might actually come to my church on Easter Sunday. My mum who doesn't believe in God, thinks all Christians are hypocrites and would much rather be watching tv on Sunday mornings. Needless to say, I'm pretty happy about that. Gives me the chance to bug her to come to my church more often! :Þ Plus she knows now that my church people are the type who don't just talk the talk, but walk the walk and will support their members through tough times. Go CBC! I don't think she'll bug me anymore about going to church so much anymore. :Þ Anyway, during the part where people were supposed to go up and give eulogies for grandma, I was surprised to see Uncle Mak from church going up to give an eulogy after a few people, including myself, had already gone up. I think my jaw was dropping and I was thinking "What on earth is he going to say??? He barely knows my grandma!" Then he went on to talk about not just how nice my grandma was, but also said went on about me being such a good granddaughter, being patient enough to take her to church every now and then even though my grandma walked so slowly. And he said I was a good example for everyone else to learn to be patient with people and all that... Wah liow weh... I half wanted to hide, man! He's supposed to talk about my grandma, nout about me! Plus, most of the time when I took grandma to church, it was mostly coz' my dad bugged me to take her out and keep her entertained. So it's not like I'm so great leh. Dang, now I really pressure to keep up the good image, man.... X_X And Uncle Mak also encouraged everyone to come to our church too... sort of like advertising our church. Lol. I hope nobody got offended by that.

Anyway, yesterday morning we had the funeral service for granny at St. Ignatius church. It was a pretty normal mass, with all the standing and sitting and kneeling inclusive (half the time, I'm trying to remember when I'm supposed to do what, and when I can't remember I just look at everyone else...:Þ). I was chatting with my cousin's wife, Boon Wan, after the service. They have a cute little 4 year old daughter named Sher Lyn, who Boon Wan said was asking a lot of questions during the service. She asked who were the man and woman (statues) in the church, and her mum told her they were Jesus and His mother, Mary. Then Sher Lyn asked where was Jesus' father.... LOL! That was actually a really good question, I thought! She's going to be one smart kiddo...

After the funeral, we took the body to the crematorium, put flowers on her coffin and said our last goodbyes to granny before they put her in. The guys there actually let us see a bit of what was going on in there by opening up the furnace (or whatever they call it) just enough for us to see the flames engulfing the coffin. I was thinking that it was a waste of a perfectly good coffin. :Þ And then the coffin ashes would be all mixed up with my granny's ashes.... So we left and we were told that the next day the ashes could be collected, but my dad hasn't collected them yet. He and my uncles will be taking the ashes to Ipoh to be buried on Tuesday. I don't think I'll be going with them coz' I'm pretty busy. Plus I don't really wanna see that all that's left of my grandma is a bunch of ashes. Sigh... these past few days when I walk around the house, I'd think stuff like "This is where grandma used to sleep, and where she'd always sit...and this is the cup she used and the bowl she ate from." I remember when I was sharing a bedroom with her when my brother was here, and one morning I woke up pretty late and saw her still sleeping. And usually she woke up early and sat in her chair, so I was a bit worried that maybe she passed away in her sleep or something... so I just lied there waiting for her to move or something... and she didn't for a while, but she finally did later on, and I was like "Whew!" Haha, I guess I don't have to worry about that anymore... I will miss her somewhat, even though I never really talked to her. I hope she's having a blast up there, or wherever she is. :D

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Wasting away...

I went to see my grandma again yesterday and she really looked a lot worse than just one week before. Last week at least she could still smile and talk to me even though she was lying on the bed. Yesterday, she was just lying on her bed... couldn't even move or talk. She had the IV drip tube stuck up her nose, and the most she could do was open one eye to see who I was before going back to sleep. She couldn't even smile when I said hi, and even when I tried holding her hand again, but she still didn't respond after from opening one eye to look at me. My dad went off again to the bank nearby to try and get someone from there to come see her so he could collect her pension, so I was left with her alone for a while again. I tried telling her some stuff that happened that week, in the hopes that maybe she would be interested and listen even though she might not be able to respond. She didn't react much, and after a while I just couldn't think of what to say. It was pretty depressing.

My dad couldn't get anyone from the bank to come too, coz' of one dumb reason or another. At first it was because they only had two people there, but when another staff came in, they said they weren't allowed to go outside of the office coz' they're not insured outside the office. It wasn't the first time my dad had problems with them. A few weeks ago when my grandma could still sit in the car, and my dad took her to the same bank, he skipped the queue and asked them if one person could quickly just walk outside the bank for a few minutes to verify that she was there in the car. They said was that he had to line up like everyone else, without giving a damn that an old lady was sitting in the car in the hot sun. I wasn't there at the time, but if I was, I surely would've given them a good piece of my mind. Anyway, this time around, it was hardly surprising that these uphelpful buggers didn't want to go all the way to the nursing home. One of them finally said that since my grandma had a joint account with one of my cousins, we had to send the account book to him and only he can without her pension. I dunno how reliable her info is though, and I won't be surprised if he has problems taking the pension out coz' he lives in Singapore and can therefore only withdraw in Johor, which is way too far for the bank people to verify that grandma is still alive. They would probably give him problems. *sigh* If that happens, I'm seriously going to write in to the newspapers and give this bank a good verbal blasting.

Anyway, after visiting my grandma, my dad and I went to visit a funeral parlour, in preparation for the inevitable. When we found the place, and my dad was discussing options with the owner (who seems very jovial for a guy working in that business. Maybe he needs to be!) I was walking around looking at the coffins and looking at some of the nice Chinese clothes they have for the deceased to wear. I know that soon, my grandma will be wearing one of those clothes and lying in one of those coffins, but at the time, it still felt unreal. Not depressing, just unreal.

One of the things my dad asked me recently about my grandma was what my opinion would be on taking her off the IV drip. My uncle had already said it's better to pull the plug since there is no hope of her recovering and she's already so old. My dad can't decide and doesn't want to decide. For me, I straight away agreed with my uncle. Seeing the way she is now, I just don't see the point in dragging on the inevitable. She's definitely going to pass away, and might as well let her go sooner to that better place instead of prolonging her existence in this vegetative state. Not being able to walk, or talk, and do anything, every minute of every hour of every day. If I were her, I wouldn't want to stay that way any longer. But then I started thinking about the issue of euthanasia.... in a way pulling the plug would be sort of euthanasia. And Christians always say that life is precious, and God should decide who lives and who dies and therefore euthanasia is wrong...yadda yadda yadda.... So would it be wrong in this case? I don't know. I think some hardcore supposed Christians who follow the book to the tee would just say it's wrong flat out. But like I said, her death is inevitable, so maybe I could say God probably wants her back now and we're keeping her from going to Him by putting her on the IV drip. Bah, stupid theological controversies.