the backstage epiphany

where reality is so subjective it's entirely optional

Monthly Archives: January 2010

10 Things You Don’t Know About Women

by Alyssa Milano for Esquire

1. Women are innately self-conscious. This is not a choice; it’s a genderwide condition. On a bad day, I look in the mirror and see my ten-pound-heavier alter ego. Her name is Bertha. On a really bad day, Bertha sees her two-hundred-pound-heavier alter ego. Her name is Brian Dennehy.

2. Women produce half the world’s food but own only 1 percent of its farmland. So we’re fine with you picking up the tab. And after about three thousand dinners at Nobu, we should be even.

3. Women like porn, too. We just hate it when you hide the porn.

4. Women remember everything. Don’t believe me? Ask your girlfriend where you met. She won’t tell you it was at a party. She’ll say it was a Thursday, she had just come from dinner, where she ate a veggie burger, and she was wearing her friend Cathy’s pink top, which was big on her because Cathy is a big girl. You were wearing a blue button-down, drinking a Jack and Coke with two straws, and talking to Bill, that mutual friend. She waved and you gave her the “what’s up” nod. This still infuriates her. (“How could you give me the nod?”)

5. An eyelash curler, while mean and ferocious looking, is not a weapon.

6. No matter how much your woman loves you, there are going to be three to seven days each month when she wants you dead. (She may even quietly fantasize about turning her eyelash curler against you.) You have two options: Tie yourself to a tree and wait out the storm, or stock up at Tiffany’s, toss a blue box or two into the wind, and hope for the best. We recommend the latter. (The key chain doesn’t count.)

7. We think it’s weird when you watch sports and concentrate to help your team.

8. “Hey, Melissa, who’s the boss?” Not a good pickup line. “Hey, Phoebe, where’d you park your broomstick?” Not a good pickup line. “Hey, Alyssa, you look 250 pounds lighter than Brian Dennehy in that dress.” Surprisingly good pickup line.

9. Women hear better than men. That’s before you even factor in listening skills and attention spans. Come to think of it, I should have listed this one first because I’m sure I’ve lost you by now.

10. You may be surprised to know that women were responsible for inventing all of the following: the circular saw, the signal flare, the space suit, the bulletproof vest, and the windshield wiper. You’re welcome.

*          *          *

I can’t say I agree with all of them. No.10 I will discount because I didn’t know it in the first place either, but the only ones I can relate to are numbers 1, 2, 4 and 9.

Most of it is nothing we don’t already know, but it’s amusing to revisit them every now and then, not in the least because, as No.9 states, men could use a little repetition every once in a while.


Picturesque candor

In my history of changing phones, the one feature I’ve never really paid attention to is the camera function. I figure I would barely use it, as I already have a perfectly good camera all on its own, when the rare urge to take photos seizes me.

But as I look through the photos that I had taken with my previous Nokia E71 and transferred to my new BlackBerry, and after taking my very first photo with this BlackBerry I realize that perhaps I do need a camera phone, to capture all the moments that call for immediate hoarding in the memory, both human and digital, like these:

A couple eating with their feet up identically, as pointed out by Eza at Berjaya Times Square's Kenny Rogers - taken with Nokia E71

Afham getting his shirt stuck in a cracked stool...

Afham getting his shirt lodged in a cracked stool... - taken with Nokia E71

... and Abby having to help him out of it - taken with Nokia E71

A driver who is either blind or has perfect distance judgment, parking exactly in between two spots in Platinum Walk, Setapak - taken with BlackBerry Bold 9700

Company Policy

Because we all need a laugh before our job sends us leaping out of our 5th(or 10th)-floor office window.

To: All Staff

Dress Code
1. It is advised that you come to work dressed according to your salary. If we see you wearing Prada shoes and carrying a Gucci bag, we assume you are doing well financially and therefore do not need a pay raise.

2. If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your money better, so that you may buy nicer clothes, and therefore you do not need a pay raise.

3. If you dress just right, you are right where you need to be and therefore you do not need a pay raise.

Sick Days
We will no longer accept a doctor’s certificate as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

Holiday Days
Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year. They are called Saturday and Sunday.

Compassionate Leave
This is no excuse for missing work. There is nothing you can do for dead friends, relatives or co-workers. Every effort should be made to have non-employees attend to the arrangements.

In rare cases where employee involvement is necessary, the funeral should be scheduled in the late afternoon. We will be glad to allow you to work through your lunch hour and subsequently leave one hour early.

Toilet Usage
1. Entirely too much time is being spent in the toilet. There is now a strict three-minute time limit in the cubicles.

2. At the end of three minutes, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, the cubicle door will open, and your picture will be taken.

3. After your second offence, your picture will be posted on the company notice board under the ‘Chronic Offenders’ category.

4. Anyone caught smiling in the picture will be sanctioned under the company’s mental health policy.

Lunch Break
1. Skinny people get 30 minutes for lunch, as they need to eat more so that they can look healthy.

2. Normal size people get 15 minutes for lunch to get a balanced meal to maintain their average figure.

3. Chubby people get 5 minutes for lunch, because that’s all the time needed to drink a Slim-Fast.

Thank you for your loyalty to our company. Remember we are an employer of choice and we are here to provide a positive employment experience. Therefore, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints, frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternation and input should be directed elsewhere.

The Management

Happily ever after, once upon a time

I’ve been watching Walt Disney animated movies ever since I can remember; they were part of the Growing Up Essentials Kit my grandmother imposed on me, which included Old Hollywood musicals like The Sound of Music, nursery rhymes about pennyworths of hot cross buns, and the works of Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Aesop. To her, they were the only movies and stories worth watching and reading, and it’s an education I’m eternally grateful to her for giving me.

My earliest memory of watching Disney movies involves trying to catch the Seven Dwarves singing It’s home from work we go. And as I grew older, coming to understand beyond just the moving pictures and music because I could read the actual stories, I learned that many of these stories ended with a variant of that age-old phrase: “And they lived happily ever after.”

Like so many other girls growing up, I harbored dreams of finding my own version of happily ever after. To me, the formula seemed so simple: meet a boy, fall in love, and live happily ever after. When pitted against all my other dreams of becoming a teacher, lawyer, doctor, singer and actress, my dream of finding love didn’t seem all that difficult to achieve.

Until, at the ripe old age of 15, I finally woke up.

Now, more than ten years later, I look back at the relationships I’ve had, the mistakes I’ve made, and the lessons I’ve learnt, and occasionally I ask myself if happily ever after really does exist anymore. Or more accurately, if I actually still believe in it. I have been so consumed by unhealthy bitterness and cynicism that every now and then, like when my best friend starts to rant about how relationships and marriage don’t last because happily ever after doesn’t exist anymore and I have to wax optimistic on her in an attempt to stamp out her pessimism, I stop and listen to myself and wonder if I believe in half the things I tell her.

Because in this day and age, where sociologists have suggested that marriage should be a 7-year renewable contract, and where people have the option of changing partners at their fancy, it comes as no surprise that nobody believes in happily ever after anymore. But in retrospect, doesn’t happily ever after require some amount of working at to actually happen? If we are looking to cure the proverbial 7-year itch with a 7-year nuptial timeshare, and we know that at any point in our relationship we can choose to bail and hop on to the next boat, we would never feel the need to make any effort in the relationship, subsequently leading it to its (un)timely demise and reaffirming our belief that happily ever after is so once upon a time.

Wouldn’t that, then, mean that if happily ever after doesn’t exist for us, it’s most likely our faults, and we would have no call to snipe and gripe about not being able to find someone we can spend the rest of our lives with? What happened to having just a little bit of faith that if we try hard enough, and if we stop thinking about ourselves and what we want so much, we can hang on to our relationships, and perhaps even live happily ever after?

So yesterday, I came to the conclusion that no matter how proudly I claim to be cynical and realistic, I realize that deep down, I’m still a romantic at heart. I still believe that we are able to find someone with whom we can share a mutual feeling of love, respect and trust, if we just make that effort. So maybe that makes me a romantic realist. Or a realistic romantic.

But I will find my happily ever after. I can believe in that much now.

All up in the air

“I can’t take a vow of forever if I mean for the foreseeable future.” – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex & the City

No, wait. That was just a dream. Reality is down there.


It was what I used to think, what I used to think I felt. I would look at him and silently tell him, I will spend the rest of my life waiting for you if you want me to. I had thought, so long ago, that what we had had been everything I wanted, that he had been everything I wanted. I told myself — and other people around me — that I loved what we had, and that I loved him in more ways than I had ever loved anyone.

It’s only now, months and months later, that I realize why I had felt that way: it wasn’t that I didn’t love him, but it was more that the habit of loving him had replaced much of the love itself. And even though I  had once loved what we had, I know now that I loved what we had represented: a distant hope, a changing faith, a flickering belief that ultimately, we would be able to overcome all the obstacles that come between us and we created for ourselves, and bring the surreal little world we built when we were thousands of miles apart to life.

So when I think about everything that had happened during those stormy months, and how I had miraculously been saved from falling even deeper into that seemingly endless chasm which tore at my humility, my dignity and self-worth, I know that I would never have been able to go all my life waiting for something that would never be mine. And this leads me to wonder: if we know that nothing lasts forever, how will we hang on to anything?

As we get older, our perspectives, our priorities, and our outlook on life change — perhaps not dramatically, most of the time almost imperceptibly. Our center of gravity, as it were, shifts ever so slightly, until we wake up one morning with the dawning realization that what we don’t have doesn’t matter because it’s not what we could have lived with anyway, or what we want doesn’t matter because we have to put others’ needs before ours, or what we already have is not what we really wanted in the first place. And that’s when we try to readjust ourselves to leave behind the things that suddenly don’t seem very important anymore, and accommodate what we now think we should have in our lives.

But if we live in this weather-vane world where mankind appears to be increasingly spoilt for choice, how do we escape the finicky trappings of our lives and learn to settle for what we have? How do we know that what we have now could be the making of us, that one thing we need to help us find what we’ve been looking for, before we become impatient and set off in search of something that we think would be better? And, most importantly, how do we know that what we have chosen to make a part of our lives won’t just turn around and shoot us in the face?

I used to be terrified that, even if things had worked out between us, he would one day look at me and, in his typical spurt of flightiness, decide that he had been wrong, and that he couldn’t do this anymore. But now, looking back on everything we had done to each other, everything he has become, and everything I have been blessed with for the last few months, I know that what I had been willing to give up my life for back then is very different from what I would give my life for now.

Forever is just a state of mind.

Enter the Terrible Twos

Happy Birthday Aiden! Auntie Sandra loves you and will see you very soon!

Beneath the veil

Mrs Huber: I was going to keep your secret. It’s a shame you couldn’t trust me

Susan: You’re a piece of work, you know that?

Mrs Huber: Oh, Susan, let’s not be unpleasant. We can go back to the same friendly relationship we’ve always had.

Susan: I will keep my lawn looking nice. And I will make sure that my music isn’t playing too loud, and if I get some of your mail? Heck, I’ll run it right over, because that’s what good neighbors do. But from now on, when I run into you on the street and I say, “Good morning, Mrs Huber,” or “How are you, Mrs Huber?” just know that, inside, I am quietly — but decidedly — hating your guts.

Mrs Huber: Careful, dear. Let’s not say things we’ll live to regret.

Susan: Good evening, Mrs Huber.

Desperate Housewives, Season 1, Episode 4 –

Like no place on Earth

In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you

Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys, Empire State of Mind –

The flashing lights and howling traffic. The bustling crowds and soaring buildings. The whistling wind and blowing fall leaves. And the city. Oh, the city.

One good thing about living in Buffalo was that it was merely a 50-minute flight away from New York City, something that I took advantage of about three times a year during my years in the U.S. I would fly there on my own — sometimes with a friend — stay at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Herald Square, and spend my days shopping, visiting museums, and just taking in the sights of the city. I learned how to get around using the wonderfully convenient MTA Subway system, found decent Malaysian restaurants in a tiny little alleyway of Bowery Street in Chinatown, and frequented the Fifth Avenue stores so often that some of them came to recognize me whenever I stopped by.

When I made my final trip to New York City in January 2008, I was sad to think that there was a chance I might never see it again, but I made a firm resolution that one day, I would go back there. It only dawned on me how much I truly missed it when I was back here and miserably comparing the insane, barbaric muddle of Kuala Lumpur to the flurrying yet energetic and orderly busyness of Manhattan. Sure, I missed the sprawling indulgence and decadence of Beverly Hills, and the quaint, historical architecture of Boston, but it never came close to how much I missed New York. Watching TV shows and movies like Gossip Girl, Sex & the City, Confessions of a Shopaholic and even The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 only made me ache for the life and energy of the city once more.

So I made up my mind that I would try my best to go back to the U.S. for a visit this year. I decided I would sweep through Boston, Buffalo and New York City over a span of two weeks, with Afham, who has never been to the U.S., in tow. I want to get back in touch with Cora and Oscar from my TEFL training days, see Shirley and let Aiden get to know his godmother all over again, and finally catch up with Maddi in Manhattan and take in as much of the city as I can. It would take a substantial chunk out of our savings, but we concurred that it would be worth it, because as much as I love the big cities in Europe and would love to visit them again, there’s really no place like New York.

Besides, what with people as heartbreakingly young as Brittany Murphy and Casey Johnson dropping dead without warning, who knows how much longer we have to live?