Tribolum.com Making Light of Things

July 2003 Archives

Going Bi

These few days have been spent trying to conjure up the weekly church bulletin - someone elses’ brainstorm of an idea trickled down through the masses and hitting me square between the eyes.

While more qualified people rejected the duty, they had reason to do so. They were either employed or in school. I, the unemployed bum (so aptly described by my sister-in-law in jest), have no such commitments nor the heart to reject doing God’s work.

Now many hours later, I find my sense of commitment waning. The church, being a bilingual church, requires a bilingual bulletin. Having figuratively forsaken rice for potato from childhood, on top of having spent the last three years in America, I consider myself monolingual at worst and one-and-a-third lingual at best. My level of reading and writing in Chinese rivals my grasp of French and Bahasa Indonesia, which is almost close to non-existent. It doesn’t help that the handwritten Chinese notes handed to me were scribbled rather quickly and alternate between simplified Chinese characters (used in China) and traditional Chinese characters (used in Hong Kong).

And to make things even harder, Microsoft decides to throw a few curveballs into the mix. While Mac OSX has a built in Chinese input, it refuses to cooperate with MS Word, leaving huge gaps due to the different unicode and western charset standards Microsoft decided to ignore. After hours of surfing the web for Mac users (a minority) who use Chinese character input (smaller minority) on MS Word (even smaller minority), I finally found a patch that solved my formatting woes.

So now it’s just me. The Chinese characters are slowly looking more familiar and I thankful for the practice. I’ve always wanted to work on my Chinese reading and writing. I just wish the training wasn’t this intensive.

Fishbowl of Life

Just need you guys to check if I'm normal, or if I'm the only driver in Singapore with such feelings.

  1. When I drive, I feel a weird affinity with the person driving behind me. If he or she dumps me for the faster lane on the right, I tend to get a little upset.
  2. There's an implicit sense of fairness on the road. If I've already given way to one motorist, don't expect me to give way to you - I've used up my benevolence. Try the next guy behind me.
  3. If you're one of those drivers who like to zoom past on the free lane and then try to cut in at the last possible moment, forget it. I wish I could get everyone in the proper line to collaborate on keeping you out of the turning lane.
  4. I often mutter "wish that guy would hit a tree / wall" when I see motorists driving recklessly. I think a solid tree or wall would take the hit better than innocent pedestrians.
  5. I hate BMW drivers.

Getting Used to It

I remember how much I loved watching you from a distance. When I was thirteen and feeling empowered with a newfound sense of independence, I took one weekend off Red Cross drill practice and sat below a block of flats beside yours. I wasn’t expecting you to say “hi” to me or even catch a glimpse of you. In some odd fashion, it was comforting to know that you were physically close. It didn’t matter whether or not you knew of my existence or my pining. It even excited me wildly to look upon the pavement that you trod on daily.

It was on that day I caught a glimpse of you. You walked from the elevator to the car. It couldn’t have taken more than 20 seconds, but I replayed the scene over and over again in my mind for the entire week. I went for the Red Cross meeting the next Saturday, where I was handed a small trophy for being the best new recruit that year.

The discovery that you went for piano lessons every Saturday morning occupied my mind. I never went back to Red Cross meetings, choosing instead the 20 seconds of feeling closer to you. Maybe I should have left the trophy for some less enamoured 13-year old.

Now as your husband the same tingles of warmth run through my being when I see you ironing your clothes or reading the paper. I feel truly blessed to be in your presence, where the 20 seconds of ecstasy is so readily available to me.

I told you today that things may change once I start work. I said this in a spirit of caution because we all know how a job seems to consume our waking hours. You comforted me, saying that you’ll learn to live with it.

I guess I’ll have to be realistic and admit that things will change when I get a proper job. I’ll have less time to spend with you and there’ll be fewer lazy mornings, I suppose. But I don’t ever want you to learn to live with having me around less, or getting used to me choosing time at work over time at home.

The term “learning to live with” or “getting used to” comes with such a deadening feeling. I want every moment to be as fresh as the first, and every sight of you as thrilling as when I was thirteen.

And I want to make it a point to give up my Red Cross meetings just to catch a glimpse of you.

Building Up

It’s been somewhat hectic, and there have been times I’ve felt like a weaver bird building its nest. (You know, the kind of bird that builds the elaborate nest that’s like a round-bottomed scientific flask).

Faith’s been busy with work and has been extremely nonchalant about the details. She squeezes my hand every now and then, telling me that she’s ok with whatever colour or design, as long as I’m there with her.

Ok, let me correct that a little. She’s been extremely nonchalant till today. The workers have started tiling the floor; we’ve bought (ok I bought) the ceiling fans, ceiling lights; and the paints have been chosen. She got a little jittery when I told her how fast the work was progressing. I suppose every woman has a picture of what her home will be like, and the reality of my rather independent choices were now sinking in.

I brought her in to look at what the workers have done so far and she’s happy with it. I guess we aren’t soulmates for nothing. I don’t claim to have a great eye for design; it takes me close to forever to redesign my websites.

Now that most of the major decisions have been made and things set in motion, I guess it’s time for me to look (intensively) for a job.

It's Not Raining Men

It’s odd that it is only after getting married I begin to notice the large number of single Christian women in our churches today. It’s not because I regret my choice - far from it - but I’m beginning to wonder where all the Christian men have gone.

They seem to be an endangered species, these Christian men. Throughout my years in church I’ve known so many who’ve walked the halls and slipped out the doors. It’s been argued that women are more predisposed to the idea of a God and religion, but I don’t buy that. It is society that has made men the egoistical bastard (forgive the language, but I simply had to keep the terminlogy authentic) they are. Even from the days of old, when the Tower of Babel was being constructed, men had always been blinded by ambition.

“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” - Genesis 11:4

So why are there so few Christian men? Is it solely because of the pursuit of ambition? Or do they face more temptations than Christian women? As a Christian male myself I’m aware of the things I face, but I’m not sure if the women have it any easier.

What makes them stick, and us fall away?

Finding a Way

Now that wedding preparations are a thing of the past, I’ve moved on to the next big task of renovating the new apartment Faith and I purchased a few months ago. Thanks to my Mom’s friend Liza, we’ve managed to nail it down to a pretty spiffy design. I spent the better part of yesterday choosing tiles and wood tones. It’s hard to visualise what the house will look like despite the brilliant 3D hand-drawings of the designer. I haven’t really settled down on a look for the house yet, so I’m trusting the designer quite a bit.

The issue of looking for full-time employment still hangs over me. I haven’t sent out any resumés yet, and I’m still unsure of what I’d really like to do. Photography seems to be getting more serious, but I don’t know if that’s something I’d like to pursue as a career.

Ok, I’ll stop ranting. I’m basically messed up and can’t seem to make up my mind. Like most of my life, there are so many options to choose from and so many pathways to tread that my feet want to run in a million different directions.

I should just take a first step, I guess. But I want to make it a good first step.

Kinda hard when you don’t know what walking feels like in the first place isn’t it?

Resolution #92102535

Can’t sleep. This is the last time I’m going to put more than a hundred meters of distance between me and my wife on a rainy night.

Unfamiliar Territories

I’ll confess: there’s a scary element to marriage.

Ever notice how couples seem to become distant after getting married to each other? Or how they begin to take things for granted, and no longer mutter sweet nothings? The prevalence of these examples scares me.

It scares me because I’ve spent most of my life (adult and adolescent) hoping to marry Faith. In the years that past I made up my mind about the type of boyfriend I wanted to be to her, and thought up countless sweet gestures to win her heart. Whether conscious or subconscious, all the planning cumulated to the wedding day, when all my hopes and dreams would become reality.

I’m less prepared for what lies after. Somehow somewhere in the back of my mind I didn’t dare believe that I would one day marry the girl I loved so much. It was much easier loving her from a distance. One could hardly do any wrong there.

Now I face the weight of my own expectation - I’ve always wanted nothing but the best for her, and now I need to be the best. I want courtship to never end, and for us to be able to always love each other with childlike faith. There are times the expectations seem unsurmountable, and yet there are times loving her seems so natural a reaction.

How did we cope before fire was invented? What did people fall in love before telephones came about? How do people tolerate surfing on a dialup connection (which by the way I’m still using)?

There are thresholds in life we pass only to forget what lay behind us, however close. Faith went back to her parents’ for the night as she had to finish up some work. It’s only been a few days, but I don’t know how I ever slept without the smell of her hair on my pillow.

Wise Man Built His House Upon A Rock

Though thankful that the wedding went by without any major hitches, I’ve now moved on to the job of renovating our new apartment. Not being the richest of newly-weds, we try to straddle the line between being budget-conscious and aesthetically creative. It’d be great if you folks could point me to any books of magazines that could give us some pointers on how to furnish or renovate a small living space without blowing a hole in the bank vault.

Faith went back to work on Monday, and the added stress of accumulated work over last weekend got her down pretty quick. As of right now I must say that taking up the job of being a house-husband (at least for a short while) is appealing to me. There are so many things I want to do to the new apartment, but more importantly, making Faith happy has always made me happy.

A single-income household is almost unheard of in expensive Singapore, but Faith and I seek a quality of life that is not defined by its opulence. I know it sounds too idealistic, but we really would like to live the simple life.

Moving Out and In

I stood outside the door as Faith hugged her Dad goodbye. Though my home (where we’ll be putting up for a while) is only five minutes away, it felt different walking down the stairs this time. A deep sadness hung in the air and we both felt like we hurt the people we loved. It was almost as if our union tore the family apart. The house would now be so much emptier; and her smile would no longer light its halls.

I felt selfish for having taken her away for myself.

It feels strange not having to pick up the phone to talk to her. We’ve grown so accustomed to the nightly (and often morningly and afternoonly) ritual of dialing each other’s phone number and listening to each other’s voice through a handset.

I just discovered that I can no longer sleep with the fan blowing in my face. She doesn’t like the direct blast of air, prefering instead to bounce it off a nearby wall. Even after twelve years, she still fascinates me to no end.

She sleeps behind me while I put one of those D.I.Y. wardrobes together. I hang up her clothes one by one and am amazed at how small they are. They seem almost like doll’s clothes. I feel so blessed for having been chosen to love and protect her as long as we both live.

Being married is a surreal feeling. It feels like we went to someone elses’ wedding, and the reality of being married to each other hasn’t seem to have set in yet. Or maybe it had twelve years ago.

The Calm Before The Storm

It’s less than ten hours before the ball starts rolling and wedding activities sweep us up in a whirlwind of festivities. I don’t know how to describe how I feel. The excitement has died down and fatigue has kicked in. It’s almost like a slow trudge to the finish line. I know it’ll all be different when the sun rises and melts this melancholy away. There is so much to thank God for.

There are still speeches to write and things to pack. It’ll be a long night.

But we wake to a glorious morn.

I Do (and Do)

Countdown has begun, and the wedding is in less than a week’s time. I’d never have thought I’d be one to get the wedding jitters, but Biscotti correctly diagnosed me as a victim. It doesn’t always manifest itself as butterflies or fear. In my case, I’m a little more (ok, quite a bit more) easily agitated. My mind is abuzz with the running of a thousand little things, all vying for my attention. There are a million things that could go wrong, and Murphy’s law would have to be debunked for the wedding to go smoothly.

It is times like this that my faith falls through. We often read of the big things - a terminal sickness of some sort, retrenchment etc. - that shake our faith. But it is the small subtleties that attack the majority of God’s people. It is when we become too swamped with doing that we forget His provision. We trust in the strength of our own arm. After all, aren’t these things trivial and easily managable?

On the wall in Faith’s house hangs a banner. Wriitten on it is the popular proverb “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths”. It is so apt in this time where the both of us are caught doing, rather than praying.

Get back to basics. Our wedding is but a reflection of the heavenly. We need to stay in focus.

Wedding Mathematics


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