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Date Night…

5 Jun

As some of you may have gathered from my Things I Know post on Friday, I was darn excited about going to the movies with Hubby for date night.

As it turned out, there was nothing showing in the cinemas that could entice either one of us (‘Hangover Part 2’, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 4’ ???)

Besides, we kept the arrangement for our beloved Nulla Nanna to come over as she had happily volunteered for baby-sitting duties.  We just couldn’t waste an evening by staying home.  Despite the miserable weather.

Dressed in my new slinky jeans, Hubby and I decided to tread some old territory.  The past haunts of our pre-twinlet yesteryears.

We went to our old pub where we spent many a drunken Saturday night with other child-free couples – drinking, talking and socializing.  Nothing out of the extraordinary for Sydney savoir faire.

But six years on, things definitely felt different.

The same table was there to take our usual order.  Inviting us to still enjoy our familiar, favoured beverages.

Yet, the pub noise was a little too rowdy and raucous for what we were now used to.  I was appalled with the rambunctious crowd next to us.  Their arrogant behaviour was full of profanities.

What was really happening ?  I was just showing my age.

My inevitable lean towards becoming a, dare I say, conservative mother.

Four years ago at this very pub, my future husband and I would occasionally have a private, yet polite dinner together.  We would tip toe around the topic of commitment, marriage and children.  He wasn’t ready.  I was eager and keen.

Now we were comparing twinlet photos on our phones, discussing their latest learnings and most recent cute moments.

Tonight, we talked about our future: where were we going to move to, in a city that was already so unaffordable for young families to maintain an urban lifestyle; what were the best options for day-care for our boys; what were my career plans beyond motherhood.

Breaking into the surface of planning for a young family with all its potential choices and paths.

Keeping all options open, yet staying as pragmatic as possible.

What a giant leap four years can do.

And besides now being a mother and holding responsibility for two precious souls, I still could enjoy the thrill of having a drink.

The warm, tingly feeling of a crisp white wine and the comforts of conversation that come with.

Walking back to the car in the rain, hand in hand with my beloved, I could see how all that was familiar has stepped into a time capsule of the past.

Life now is good.  It’s not complete.  But it’s certainly happy and content.

The movies can wait until another time.

Musings of Mama Grace © 2011


Lost in Love; Lost in Translation

7 Apr

I have a memory of an elephant.  I retain every piece of stupid, irrelevant trivia.  Quiz me on Michael Jackson song lyrics and I will leave you in the dust.

Alas, this memory bank of silly garbage also holds onto past wrong doings of others and misunderstandings.  I can’t seem to let them go.

Now, I can just write about them.  Reverting to cathartic blogging.

Around seven years ago –  in a single gal version of my former corporate self – business reasons took me to Tokyo for a 6 month stint.  There, I had befriended a Chinese female colleague.

Besides her native Mandarin, she spoke fluent Japanese while her English on the other hand, was rusty.  Meeting in the middle, we conversed in Japanese.

Miss J was a spruce, young lass in her mid-20’s.  Several years my junior, she was over-the-top keen to marry her Japanese boyfriend.


Yet, most mornings she would come to work unhappy because he was struggling with commitment issues.

Attempting to prompt a marriage proposal, she had brought him back to her hometown in the Szechuan Province to meet her folks.  Miss J had even arranged professional couple photos in preparation for the engagement and wedding invitations.

Although, back in Tokyo, he kept avoiding the topic of matrimony like it was bad sushi.

One Monday morning she came into work almost in tears.  By lunchtime, we found a quiet place to talk.  There, she opened the floodgates.

Why won’t he commit ?  We’ve already had the professional photos done, so why is he stalling ?  I want to start booking wedding venues before the wedding peak season starts, but why won’t he co-operate ?

And so the discussion continued.

I suggested that it might be better to slow things down.  Perhaps he needed more time to be comfortable with a life decision such as marriage.

Being an intelligent girl, I thought she would see reason.

Instead I found myself in the middle of an emotional firing line.

Between sobs she cried, “Grace-san, the thing is…I just don’t want to find myself at your age and in your situation.”

Wham !

I thought, maybe, just maybe, my Japanese listening ability had temporarily gone haywire and I had misunderstood what she was trying to say.

But no.  I had heard correctly.

Because she then retorted, “I know that sounds rude and terrible, but it’s true.  I want to be married before my 30’s.  Live in an apartment big enough to have a dining table.”

DOUBLE Wham !  Ker-pow !!!

I knew my single status at the time wasn’t the most ideal.  A month prior leaving Sydney, I had started dating someone.  With my impending departure, we somehow decided to keep the relationship going.  However, since arriving in Tokyo, our communication had deteriorated.  Rapidly.


It was highly probable that I was returning to Sydney to face heartbreak.  Of course, there were no other potential prospects to speak of, either.

As a 30-something lost in love, you could see why an ambitiously keen-to-be-a bride-Chinese girl would not want my life.

Later that evening, I had a dinner date with my fabulous girlfriends who were an eclectic group of married and singles.

Coming from different walks of life:  Japanese; American; Eurasian.

Calling from different fields of professions:  Lawyer;  Account Manager;  Pre-school teacher.

All confident, smart and fiercely independent.

Reassuring me that my life of singledom wasn’t dire, they were my perfect audience.  They were my cheering squad.

When I told them about my bizzare lunchtime musings, the reaction was unified.

They were aghast.  Appalled.  In disbelief.

After double checking that yes, I had heard her correctly.  And no, I didn’t have a temporary Japanese language amnesia moment, we came to some insightful conclusions.


Obviously, there was something far more deep seeded there.

It wasn’t about me.

Then, we all established another verdict.  One that simply involved cultural differences.

Although said with little eloquence, it seemed that Miss J was expressing her own disapproval of the Western approach towards finding love and marriage.

Frivilous dalliances and casual dating without a set schedule to the altar was too risky.

Originating from a culture where there were stringent rules and strict direction to reach goals and achieve social status, the Western way was too complacent.

After all, in past conversations, she had mentioned her  demanding Chinese Tiger Mother who had been hounding her to set a wedding date.

Talk about rice cooker steaming pressure.

As such, she was sticking to her agenda.

While, I was going to stick to mine.  (Or lack thereof).

Right up to my last day in Tokyo, Miss J stayed oblivious about that fateful lunch hour.  There was not even an iota of acknowledgement.

I returned to Sydney to officially end what was already a doomed relationship.

2 weeks later, I met my future husband.

Meanwhile, I heard she ditched her Japanese bloke, moved to New York and is now happily married in suburban New Jersey.

I’m sure there’s a nice big dinner table involved too.

It’s a shame we don’t know each other now.  I do wish her well.

Leaving cultural contrasts aside, I would remind her that when it comes to the confusing maze of finding love, heartbreak is universal.

That the journey isn’t as straight-forward for some.

I would tell her that maybe back then, my life was pretty wayward.

But it’s not these days.

It’s actually pretty good.  Awesome, in fact.

Okay, now, I can let it go.

"Double Happiness"


If I Were A Carpenter

3 Apr

One of the most delightfully delicious experiences in life, is of falling head over heels in deep, consuming love.  Nothing quite beats that floating sensation during the early days of courting.

Spending every single possible moment in each other’s pockets.  Those brief, yet torturous moments apart.  Going about your day in clouds of daydream, counting down the seconds until you see them again.

Then the delectable icing on the cake:  Falling in love when you least expect it.

My friend, Ms B is the girl about town.  I dare say, that she is well connected because she is constantly bumping into someone in the street.  Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if you know her too.

I fondly call her my little social butterfly because as frustrating as it is for me, I love how she constantly keeps herself busy.  So much so, that it can take weeks for me to finally “book in” some quality time with her.

Among the hustle and bustle, an Irish carpenter entered her life.  In the form of a flat-mate.

Since he moved in, the two had become steadfast chums.  They would often cross paths – mainly in the kitchen and the lounge room – sharing jokes and stories of polite interest.  Not an inkling of romance.

Although unsure of when it precisely happened, there was definitely a build-up of innocent flirting, mixed in with making each other cups of tea and interludes of late night lounge room drinks.

Sure enough, Ms B suddenly found herself attracted to her friend.

Confused and seeking advice from close friends, Ms B eventually made the firm decision to confess her feelings.

But how does one open one’s heart and manage to ignore the fear of rejection ?

She chose to do it with a gesture.  A dinner voucher.  For two.

One Friday night she was about to muster the courage.  Finally, she was bold enough and ready to pass on the invitation.  While he himself, in fact, had some important news.

Work was calling him.  He was leaving for Melbourne.  That following weekend.

Heartbroken, Ms B tried to keep her composure.

Although nothing was said, at that moment, Mr Carpenter knew how much the news had hurt her.

The week progressed with Ms B carrying the  heavy weight of sadness to work every day.  The day before his departure, along with mutual friends, they all went out for final drinks.

Despite the imminent parting and the uncertainty they faced, both did their best to stay up-beat and jovial.  Jokes were shared to ease the tension, yet thrown in were mutual puzzled looks.

The night soon ended and looking for a taxi together to return home, he took her by the hand.

Mr Carpenter simply whispered, “Don’t worry.  I have a plan…”

Back at the apartment, Ms B nervously gave her boy a parting gift that she had carefully picked.  Knowing the drive to Melbourne would be long and tedious, in her typical pragmatic, yet thoughtful nature, she bought a road atlas of Australia.  Along with it was a heart-felt written card.

Filled with anxiety, Ms B needed an excuse to leave the room.  So, she offered to make some tea.  Wandering into the kitchen, she hoped that Mr Carpenter would open the present while she wasn’t there.  Taking as much time as she could to make that simple cup of tea, she finally made her way back to the lounge room.  Only to find him waiting for her.  With the present on his lap.  Still unwrapped.

Nervousness and excitement took to its new heights for Ms B.  As this is when it happened.  He leaned over for a hug, then a kiss.

Their first kiss.  Sealing the mutual attraction.  Reassuring the other that despite the unknown future, things will work out.

When Mr Carpenter packed his van and tools the next day, he promised Ms B that he wouldn’t be away for more than two months.

Despite his absence, the communication remained constant.  In fact, it didn’t even take being apart for 24 hours when Mr Carpenter came to a realisation.

His instincts told him that he was in the wrong place.  Without the right girl.

He drove back to his beloved Ms B.  Just in time for the weekend.

As we speak, the two are blissfully tucked away in their own little world of new found love.

In this story, the message is two-fold.

For all you fabulous single gals out there:

Keep doing what you do best;  Stick to doing what you love most;  Stay in your equilibrium of content.

Because that’s when you shine in all your glory.  Then, when you least expect it, such magnificence will surely be noticed.

In a whisper, you will be swept up in the warmth of true love.

Without fail, love always creeps up on those who are too preoccupied with the bits and bobs of life to be looking for it.

Now a message for the debonair single men:

All it takes is some love and a plan.

Make that special someone a cup of tea.  Tell them how you feel.  Then never let them go.

Let this be a story be a celebration;  The wonder of being pursued for love.

Ms B, this one is especially for you. With already a fulfilling and happy life, here’s to the one who has given you even more.

No one I know right now deserves this more, than you.


“Love sought is good, but given unsought, is better”

–William Shakespeare

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