the backstage epiphany

where reality is so subjective it's entirely optional

Monthly Archives: November 2008

Wedding bell blues

“You could do this! It would be depressing singing at wedding after wedding, but if you’re good at it at least the money you get off them would ease the pain a little.” – Mom

Tonight I attended my first wedding dinner since coming back to this country. The bride’s mother is a scrub nurse who worked with my mother, and whom she’s known since her houseman days in the 1980s. Unfortunately it will not be the last wedding dinner I’ll be attending.

I’ve always harbored a theory that a wedding invitation says a lot about the bride and groom, and the wedding itself (and sometimes the parents). As soon as my mom showed me the invitation for tonight’s dinner, I knew we were doomed: it was red and gold, written in Chinese on one side and English on the other. “It’s going to be one of those,” I told her. “Where they’ll have Chinese karaoke and a Chinese wedding singer and the emcee will speak in Chinese more than in English and everyone will have to do that awful bawdy toasting.”

Et voilà, it was one of those.

I’ve never been a fan of weddings, much less wedding dinners, especially of the circus variety. The last time I attended a wedding dinner in this country was in 2005, when Becca’s sister got married. In a ballroom of a thousand-odd people, it had been relatively easy to shut out the general goings-on and just talk to Becca, Angie and Joyce at our table (until a pseudo-acappella rendition of an N*Sync song managed to hold my horrified attention for a good few minutes). And the last time I attended a wedding dinner in this country with my family was probably when I was in my late teens, before I moved to Buffalo. So, now that I am in my twenties and threatened with an impending birthday, it was to my chagrin when almost all my mom’s friends who were there asked, “So Lilian, when will it be your turn to do this?”

My mom, who is only slightly better than I am at keeping a poker face when taken by surprise, and who knows about one tragedy after another where men are concerned, shrugged and said, “I don’t know…”

But it came as a suprise when the bride’s mother took my mom aside and told her, as later narrated to me by my mom, “Don’t hope for it to happen so soon, not because she’s too young, but because when the time finally comes, it will be difficult for you, especially since she’s your only daughter.”

“And that’s why I’m not freaking out that you’re still single,” my mom said. “Well, not yet, anyway,” she added a few seconds later.

As much as I want to be living on my own before the end of 2009, I loved her for saying that. And just for that, if and when the time ever comes, I will never put my mom through what we were all put through tonight. And — if my abovementioned theory has any ring of truth to it — you’ll know it from my wedding invitation.


Not for the faint-hearted

Or claustrophobic. Or just extremely irritable.


Macy*s Herald Square a.k.a. Hell On 34th Street

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone — the first Thanksgiving in four years that I wasn’t around for. My most vivid memories of it are in 2005, when my mother flew to Manhattan to meet me during Thanksgiving break, her first time in Manhattan since we moved to Florida eleven years prior. And the one thing I remember the most clearly about that Thanksgiving was Black Friday, when all of America was out risking life and limb for the 80% discounts that were only available on Black Friday and Boxing Day.

The Macy*s Black Friday sale in Herald Square, Midtown Manhattan, surpasses all other sales and flea markets. Security is increased significantly, and there is traffic control within the store, not to mention lines for the escalators and elevators. And even though everyone knows full well that it will be hell on earth, they still go for it, getting in line long before the crack of dawn to ensure they’re among the earliest in.

That was the first and last time I ever went for the Macy*s Black Friday sale. Or any Black Friday sale, for that matter.

A few days ago, I thought of attending the FJ Benjamin Warehouse Clearance that was going to be held this weekend. Not the sale for the common masses that will be held tomorrow and Sunday, but the HSBC Cardmembers’ Preview that’s on today. I had decided I would ask my boss for an hour off, run over to Parkroyal Hotel when the sale began at 10AM, and dash back to the office after seeing what all the brouhaha was about. But then yesterday I was informed that I would have to attend a meeting scheduled for 9:30AM this morning, which promptly threw a wrench in my plans. Which turned out to be a good thing, because a very reliable source attended the sale and barely made it out alive, it was that crowded. “I can so picture you running out of there as soon as you get in!” he later told me.

Needless to say, I no longer felt as though I’d missed out on anything. As much as I had wanted to check out Raoul and Banana Republic (which is only worth it when on sale, even in the U.S.) for clothes for work and Gap for my everyday knock-around T-shirts, I figured fighting the masses wouldn’t make it worth it.

My point to all this is that I hate crowds. Hate them. Loathe them. [Insert synonym here] them. The human traffic during sales is exactly like the vehicular traffic on the streets during the holiday season — teeming and uncivilized. Even the Isetan sale — which incidentally begins today for members and I’m still contemplating attending — walks that extremely fine line I draw between Crowded and Insane. I can’t stand the shoving and elbowing, and that sudden bout of possessiveness that overcomes shoppers when they’re determined to keep others from their own prospective purchases. And everything that looked so appealing before the sale began suddenly looks ratty and knocked around, thus taking all desire for it out of my system.

For now I’ll stick with Gardens, Bangsar Village and Pavilion. Silent and empty though they may be, at least I’ll emerge with all body parts intact.

Bergdorf Babies


My Advertising & Promotions Manager just had a baby boy last week, his second child after a girl three years ago. So since I was alone for lunch hour today, I decided to make the rounds of the fifth floor of Pavilion where the baby stores were, and I came out of Baby Gap with a box of bibs and onesies and a big foolish smile on my face.

I had never been partial to children before, and up until Shirley became pregnant last year I never gave children a thought. But then she broke the news to me, and all of a sudden I had this one other person to take care of  — which makes me sound like the father (figure) — because her then-boyfriend was a lying, cheating, mass-procreating scumbag. And before I knew it, I was godmother to the brightest, happiest little boy who insisted on arriving five weeks early and sending everyone into a frenzy.

rockstarAnd what did I do when Shirley told me it was going to be a boy? I waited until my next trip to Manhattan and scoured the baby departments of Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and the other high-end stores I myself frequented to look for baby clothes and accessories. I ended up buying a Dior feeding bottle, D&G onesies, Juicy Couture bibs and socks, and the Lucky Brand Rockstar onesie that Shirley swears she’ll keep forever because it was what she called him even before he was born. It didn’t even matter that he would outgrow all these things — except the bottle and bibs — in next to no time at all, and if I’d had absolutely no self-restraint at all I would have bought him a pair of Gucci baby sneakers.

dior-bottleSo yes, I have an odd — and probably perverse — love for shopping for babies. I don’t know if it’s because I find baby clothes ridiculously adorable, or it’s my body’s way of telling me that buying gifts for friends’ babies is the closest I’ll ever get to doing anything maternal, but I love doing it.  And odder still, I like shopping for boys’ clothes, which, according to Becca’s mother, means that my firstborn will be a boy (completely contradictory if said shopping habit is a sign of permanent childlessness), even though I only ever wanted one girl, after watching my mom tear her hair out raising my brother.

I know. I can’t imagine myself being a mother either.

No two you’s are the same

I wish you knew how to stand up for yourself sometimes, and uphold the values for which you claim to work.

I wish you would stop thinking that money and titles are everything you need to impress a person, much less a person like me.

I wish you would realize that not everyone is willing to sink as low as you have.

I wish you would take responsibility every once in a while and get your priorities straight.

I wish you would get off the merry-go-round and just stand still, and not cling on to it wondering if the jump will hurt.

I wish you would start running towards the light at the end of the tunnel before it puts itself out, instead of turning away because you think it’ll always be there.

I wish you would stop trying to justify all the actions that you think are making me upset, and realize that it’s the act of justification itself that’s bothering me the most.

I just wish you would.

Wake up, seriously

When you’re dreaming with a broken heart
The waking up is the hardest part

– John Mayer, Dreaming With A Broken Heart

I don’t want to wake up looking as though I’m recovering from eye surgery.

I don’t want to wake up feeling more inadequate than I have in a long, long time.

I don’t want to wake up loathing myself for not being good enough, for never having been good enough.

I don’t want to wake up wanting to go back to sleep and never to wake up again.

Just a few things I need to work on.

Heal the wound, leave the scar

On Friday morning, I woke up to a disturbing sight: I had a spot on my chin. Not just any spot, but the kind that you know will cost you days of irritation and mortification until you get rid of it or it decides to go away by itself. And when I saw it in the mirror, I knew it was time to stop procrastinating and replace my magic stick which had run out months ago, and hope that the matter would be resolved over the weekend. But so far all it’s done is go into what seems like a sleep mode, where it neither looks like it can be removed or is about to disappear of its own accord.

What bothers me is not that I have a spot, but that I have a spot like this for the first time in years, since before I moved to Buffalo and Roaccutane took care of everything. Even after I was done with Roaccutane, birth control made sure that all was as it should be. And for some strange reason, it feels as though I haven’t dealt with this in such a long time that I don’t know how to deal with it anymore, at least until it gives some sort of sign that it’s ready to go, either voluntarily or by force, but not without the possibility of leaving a mark on a face I labored for years to clear.

When we are faced with a situation that we haven’t been faced with in a substantial amount of time, is it possible to not know or remember how to handle it anymore? Even if it were a situation that keeps repeating itself, but the circumstances of which are those that we haven’t had to deal with in a long time, would we be at a loss as to how to rectify it? Do we think of every way possible to get ourselves out of it, or do we just leave it the way it is and wait for everything to fall into place in its own time? For the most part we’re all right with just leaving it be, but when the occasional stab occurs — such as looking in the mirror and seeing that spot or the sudden flash of memory that we’ve been trying to stamp out — do we leave the knife in because we’re still alive and that’s all that matters, or do we pull it out and bear with the pain, hoping that in time, we will heal?

Then vs. Now

For the first time in what seems like years, I’ve fallen sick. It started off as a little tickle in my throat, then a couple of sneezes (at one point I sneezed so hard I started to taste blood in my velum and wondered aloud to Becca over the phone if I had blown something), and then by the end of the day it was an elephant in my throat that just couldn’t stop trumpeting: I was starting to get the ‘flu. So I rushed home to start downing Panadol and Augmentin so that I wouldn’t have to call in sick today, because that was a hassle I just couldn’t be stuffed going through.

Then this morning, just as I was waking up, my mom came into the room…

Mom: (putting her arm on my forehead) How are you feeling?
Me: I’m OK.
Mom: Are you able to go to work?
Me: Of course.
Mom: (pause) Maybe you should take the day off.
Me: What? No. I can’t. I have things to do.
Mom: (slightly indignant) Like what?
Me: I have two speeches to fix and the newsletter to finish. Besides, if I called in sick you’d have to write an MC for me and you don’t have those.
Mom: I’ll just go to the clinic and use one of theirs.
Me: No, I’m going to work. I’m better now.
Mom: Well, OK. Just bring the Panadol with you, and remember to take your antibiotics so you won’t be coughing up a lung.

When I was still in school, I was never allowed to call in sick or malinger, unless I was “dead or dying,” as my mom put it. She would pack me off to school armed with Panadol and antibiotics and a reminder to take them. So I was surprised when she suggested I call in sick today, and even more so when she said she would just bump a medical certificate off one of the general physicians, because apparently it’s beneath specialists to carry around a book of medical certificates to be doled out to malingerers, “like any old GP,” my mom once said.

Times have changed.

Oh. Kay.

It’s OK.

It really is OK.

So why am I the only one who thinks it’s OK?