It’s a crime that she’s not around most of the time

The other night I had a dream about my cousin F. He died in January, three months shy of his 25th birthday. I ran into him someplace, and immediately asked to kiss his cheek. He didn’t hesitate. He let me kiss his cheek. He was an adult in the dream; I never would kiss his cheek in real life and he never would have let me. Dreams though, eh?

I’ve been dreaming of him lately. I’ve been thinking about him a lot, maybe that’s why. Recently, after a hard day at work, I basically got home and wept for him for hours. When I’m having a hard day, all the things I’ve ever been sad about come to the surface. I’m perpetually sad about mum, so mum always comes up first. Since he died, cousin F has been coming up second.

I never wrote about it then. In fact, I only mentioned his death two months later on this blog. But the second time I visited him in the hospital – after we all knew that his parents had come to a decision to turn off his ventilator the next day – when everyone had said their last goodbyes to him and left, I, too, tried to leave. Only I couldn’t bring myself to. I knew that the next time I saw him would be at his funeral. I held his cold hand in my hand and sobbed until I shook. Until all I could see was my own tears. I had only ever cried that way for mum.

His brother gripped my hand. His mother – Aunt Y, the aunt I hadn’t spoken to in five years – hugged me and kissed me on my cheek. “I haven’t kissed you in years.” I didn’t speak for a very long time. I just cried and cried. When I eventually did speak, the words came out garbled. I had to say it twice. “I remember when he used to sit on mum’s lap.” Aunt Y smiled. “Your mother loved him dearly. I’ll bet you he’s already on her lap right now.” It doesn’t work that way, but the things we say to comfort ourselves…

Cousin F was very affectionate with my mother. Whenever we gathered at my grandmother’s, he always ended up sitting on my mother’s lap. Aunt Y would nag him to get off of her, that he was too old, but my mum would defend him and say, “I don’t mind! He’s so light anyway.”

At age 13, cousin F was diagnosed with a benign tumour on his pituitary gland. The pituitary gland makes very different hormones, one of them being the growth hormone. As a result he stopped growing in height at about five feet, and he couldn’t put on weight. My mum didn’t mind her 15-year-old nephew sitting on her lap because she could barely feel him.

When cousin F was a little kid, he was obsessed with toy buses. His favourite one was a red double-decker one, I remember. He would push it around the house, making up stories as he went along. One time he even included the toilet on his ‘route’. At the time my grandma was still living in her old flat with a squat toilet. Everyone went ballistic on him because he could have fallen into the hole. It was so funny. He never did it again.

As I sobbed I only saw those two images in my mind. Him as a little kid, pushing his toy bus around the house, and him as a teenager, sitting on my mother’s lap. How could that little kid I grew up with be lying in a hospital bed, connected to a dozen tubes, pale, cold, and barely alive? How did we get here? He was robbed of a normal teenhood and a normal adulthood and now, at age 24 years and nine months, he was going to die? How was that fair?

Ten months on and I still ask why. Hell, ten years on since mum died and I still ask why. It doesn’t get me anywhere. It’s not meant to. It’s just human. For some reason these things happened and I will feel the repercussions forever. So I do.

Chocolate Waffles

For years I waffled on getting a waffle maker (see what I did there?). Reason being, a waffle maker is a unitasker. I didn’t need more clutter in my kitchen. The desire to own one would come and go and I always managed to suppress it. That is, until a few weeks ago, when I found myself suddenly thinking about owning a waffle maker, and I continued thinking about it like it was my job. I started googling and I found a cheap one that’s more than a waffle maker. It’s also a panini press and a sandwich maker. A panini press! How could I not?!

So now I am the proud owner of a waffle maker/panini press/sandwich maker. I have yet to try the panini press and sandwich maker bits, but the waffle maker has been used twice and it’s pretty solid. I only wish it would beep at me when the waffles are cooked instead of the light simply turning green. I’m busy in the kitchen, you know. I can’t always be watching it. But I digress.

Let’s talk about waffles. What kind do you like? And more importantly, how do you eat your waffles? (Real!) maple syrup and butter is the way I go.

Sadly though, today’s waffles did not get to bathe in maple syrup. I’d run out and so had the supermarket. Luckily these chocolate waffles are good enough on their own!

Chocolate Waffles

The recipe comes from Gale Gand’s Brunch, kindly shared by Will It Waffle. I like that they are not overly sweet. You know I’m not a fan of sugary stuff. The centres are so fluffy thanks to the egg whites that are whipped stiff.

The rogue non-chocolate waffle is from last week’s batter using a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. The recipe also calls for a separation of the eggs and super stiff egg whites. Waffles with crispy edges and fluffy centres? What more could you ask from a waffle? This is a recipe to use forever and ever, amen!

I love my waffle maker.

Edit: At jennanolten‘s request, here is a pic of my magic machine!

magic

No tired sigh, no rolling eyes, no irony, no “who cares”, no vacant stare, no time for me

I am this loving this song so hard right now. It’s all I’ve been listening to since I woke up.

My work day was so good I want to weep thinking about it. Everything went so smoothly and nobody annoyed me for even a second. Every day should be like this!

Yesterday was great too. My boss gave me so many fist bumps for multiple jobs well done. I asked him if he was glad he hired me. He said, “Sometimes.” Pffft.

I am mostly happy here. It’s a wonderful feeling.

It was over my head, I know nothing at all

Last night I dreamed that I was being attacked and chased by people I was trying to help. I don’t know those people in real life, but something like that did happen in real life recently – minus the physical attack. Yeah, I’ve discovered that some people are just not worth my time and effort.

This morning I made waffles with my new waffle maker. I bought a new vacuum cleaner too. But my new home appliances deserve their own post. It seems unlikely, but my new home appliances are actually worth expatiating on. Anyway, I can now make waffles at home. I browned the butter so carefully it came out the most beautiful shade of brown; I whipped the egg whites so stiff until I could do this.

stiff

The other night I finally decided to take the wall clock I bought in Paris two and a half years ago, out of its very dusty box. It’s very cheesy, it has the Eiffel Tower on it. I don’t know why I decided to take it out now… But you know what? It doesn’t even work. I thought my battery was dead. I replaced it with a fresh one – still doesn’t work. Figures, doesn’t it? My Paris clock won’t move. It makes total and complete sense, really.

An online friend whom I stayed with when I went to NYC in 2008, and whom I met again for a brief moment in Paris one year ago, emailed me saying she would like to come to Singapore in February. One week ago I knew how – and where – I was going to spend my Chinese New Year 4-day weekend plus the week after, and that place wasn’t Singapore. But now…now I’ll take a guest in my home, sure.

There’s the last kiss that we were meant to have but the crossing light turned white too fast

Have you had so many friends come out of the woodwork at the same time? The last few weeks has seen a steady stream of people I haven’t talked to for a long time drop a message or call and it is weird-cool.

One friend has an uncanny knack of getting in touch when I’ve been thinking of messaging him. It happens every single time, it’s probably not uncanny anymore.

One friend Skype-called me as he was driving to work – in Guatemala. And the best part was that the connection only died once during our 30-minute conversation. From Guatemala to Singapore, while he was on the road. That’s impressive!

One friend is planning a month-long trip to Europe next April and asked me to join for all or some part of it. The travelling-with-a-friend debacle of 2012 is still very fresh on my mind so I’m not sure, but I’m thinking about it. I do miss her, and I’m always looking for an excuse to go to Europe again.

One friend asked if I know of a shop that sells a huge variety of baking supplies – course I do – and that we should meet soon. Yes, we should. And we have to mean it this time, I tell her.

One friend…my absolute favourite of the lot – but don’t tell anyone. We didn’t talk for the past year for various reasons but especially one stupid, stupid reason. Well, he had to be coaxed out of the woodwork. I heard a Rachael Yamagata song, thought of him, texted him that I missed him…and he said he missed me too, and how did I know he was in a deep, shitty hole? I didn’t know. But I must have…somehow. We’re friends again, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Also, “You were right. About everything.” Of course I was. “I told you so,” I wanted to say, but I didn’t. I won’t.

There are several others still, and all of these…rekindling of relationships is making me kind of like life just a little bit more. It’s really awesome when it works, huh?

Speaking of liking life, how’s this to make me change my mind. I woke up suddenly from a dream about mum this morning. I wasn’t planning on describing the dream in detail or even mentioning it at all but a few months from now when I re-read this post I’d have forgotten what the dream was about and it would really annoy me not being able to recall it. So this is for you, future TFC:

I had a dream that I was frantically looking for a piece of paper where I apparently had made a monthly record of money I’ve given mum from my salary. In my culture, once you start working full-time, you give your parents some money from your salary every month as a way of giving back. Usually it’s your mother, because Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said honour your mother three times before your father; and also because mothers are generally more loved in my culture. It could be as little as $50, but it’s the thought that counts. So in this dream she was already dead, but I was looking for this piece of paper for whatever reason, and I couldn’t find it, and I woke up, and for a split second the subject of the dream alone was enough to make me sad. But when it occurred to me that no such thing exists in real life – that I had never given her money from my salary because she died before I finished school…hoo boy. I started sobbing. It sucks when that happens.

On a lighter note, work is going really well. Been here a month and a half now and I’m still loving it. My colleagues are all nice and I’m pretty sure my boss would trust me with his life if I let him. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. It’s pretty scary. But also nice to be thought of as trustworthy again after enduring six months of bullshit from my psychotic ex-boss. Person #4 who was planning to quit this year has not only quit but left the country. He’s got a job in Australia now. Good for him. Now#5 is just biding his time. AM is so fucked!

Ten

A few months ago I read an article by a woman who lost her father. This particular paragraph took my breath away.

My father died on November 14th, 1995, when I was 14. Every day since the day he died I am one day farther away from him than I was before. This is the truest thing about me. It is the most important and worst thing to ever happen to me. It is me. My father died when I was 14. I will tell people this forever. It is the truest thing about me. I was 14 when he died. My father. I was 14.

- ‘Before You Know It Something’s Over‘ by Riese Bernard

When I read it, I just changed the date and age in my head.

My mother died on September 15th, 2004, when I was 19. Every day since the day she died I am one day farther away from her than I was before. This is the truest thing about me. It is the most important and worst thing to ever happen to me. It is me. My mother died when I was 19. I will tell people this forever. It is the truest thing about me. I was 19 when she died. My mother. I was 19.

There are a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head on this day but the one I will share is this – most days I can’t even believe she’s gone. So for the calendar to show that she has been gone for ten whole years is, quite simply, mind-boggling. It’s crazy that it has been this long since I touched her; longer still since she consciously touched me. We were very affectionate, my mother and I. We would kiss each other on both cheeks, forehead, and lips whenever one of us left the house. I wish I could say that it feels like it was just last week since I felt her face on mine, but no. It actually feels exactly like ten years ago. Her last kiss feels as old as it is in age, and just as far away.

Ten years on, and not only am I still grieving, but I am still mourning. I suspect I forever will be.