Who needs a scale when you’ve got ao’ dai`?

garfield3A while back there was a debate on Mamamia about our love / hate relationship with scales. Which reminded me of Garfield (love that cat!) and his obnoxious, opinionated weighing gadget.  I remembered agreeing with quite a few people on there about using our clothes instead of a scale to gauge our size. We know well enough that weight can be misleading – muscles being heavier than fat and all that jazz. But volume! Now to me, volume is the true measure of it all. And how do we judge that? Save for doing an Archimedes by jumping into a full bath and calculating the amount water getting spilled out, which apart from being quite messy, is also a very bad idea considering our water restriction (“I’m still at 3A, I’m also at 3A, we’re all at 3A!”), the only other option we’ve got is using a few favourite items of clothing for this task.

I’ve got a pair of jeans, one of only 4 pairs I own (yes, it is quite shocking, but more on this later), that I would put on from time to time to assure myself that the circumference of my butt hasn’t exceeded its, er, legal limit. I’m not so obsessed with the top bit because frankly, much to my chargrin, on me weight just refuses to go up there. Mass heads down South, Newton’s has long established that, didn’t he?

But tell you what, I’ve just found a better tool. You might have heard (!) that I made a point of wearing (or at least trying to do so) my old áo dài for Tết. I’ve got two sets, one made in 1998 and one in 2001. So yeah, they can now be called senior citizens, are entitled to pension, and have the right to go around calling everyone “darling” and starting their sentences with “Back in my days…” But they still look quite new and cute, even if I may say so myself.

Anyhow, I put them on this morning. And it was a good thing that m’ and our housemate weren’t home because if anyone’d heard the guffawing coming out from my room, they’d have thought I was losing it. This is how it went:

aodai-trangI took out the white set. Poked my arms into the sleeves. They fit all the way through. Thank goodness, so the arms are cleared! But elbows could NOT fold into an angle smaller than 90 degrees. Which made doing up the snap buttons rather difficult, especially around the neck! Finally did those up after a bit of struggle, phew! So the neck’s good. Then working down around my right underarm. Proving to be quite tricky but YES! The tiny furthermost hook slid in its place. Good girl! Then down the side, snap snap snap hook hook. All done. YAY!

And then I suddenly remembered to breathe in. Oh sheesh!

The peachy pink set was a little more “accommodating”, except for the sleeves which are a little short. WHAT? So I have not gained any height since ’98 but my arms have grown longer? WTF? As if my monkey arms needed any extra length! I’d have to check myself in a little apartment in the Parkville park land that has a sign next to my door saying “Please Do Not Feed the Animals”, if that were the case. Seriously.

aodai-camAnyhow, as for the pants. (Or pantaloons, as the wiki entry suggested. Does it have anything to do with pants & balloons, I wonder? Rather apt too, don’t you think?) Well, the pants are ok except that they used to come up to my waist, which is how pants should be, I reckon. And now they’re all the way up near my armpits! Which I’m sure tells you something about my waistline but I’d rather not hear it, you and the pants can have that discussion to yourselves, thank you very much.

Do I even need to tell you that as much as I love it, áo dài has to be the most unforgiving of all outfits? The pinnacle of torture? The essence of self-scrutinizing thoughts? I mean, forget strapless frocks that squash your boobs all the way up to your chin, forget bandage dresses that reveal even the silhouette of your belly button, forget even the skimpiest bikinis. It’s our lovely áo dài that takes the cake, baby! Because if you want to look good in it, the only thing you can do is stand dead still — tums in, tits out, bums sticking all the way to the back — and you do not inhale. Not a single breath! Quite a breeze, aint’ it?

And now you know why on the streets of Melbourne, we see Indian women wearing their gorgeous saris, we see Chinese girls in their sexy cheong-sams, we even see a kimono here and there. But except for traditional events like wedding ceremonies or cultural concerts, you’d find a hen’s tooth before you spotted a Vietnamese girl parading around in her áo dài here in Aus.

Hey, I’m not bitter ok? Nope. I’m also surely not exaggerating. (Okay maybe just a little.) I’ll still wear one of my áo dài sets for Tet. Or both of them, for that matter. (Of course not at the same time, silly!) I’m determined to be that hen’s tooth. Even when it means that if my plan to hold my breath for a long stretch of time don’t work, I may have to surgically remove a section of my ribcage. 🙂

Stay tuned. I’ll keep you updated.


(Tune of the day: Hunter ~ Dido)


Technologically challenged

Yesterday I had to reinstall Windows on my desktop because this  stupid old thing has been playing up too much lately. After twiddling around for half a day, including (but not limited to) backing up all that useless crap in the hard-drive, and dissecting the CPU to evict a whole big fat family of dust bunnies that have been nesting and breeding in there (eww!), I managed to get most things done. Now to start on a long “journey” of reinstalling all the necessary programs.

But now my sound card doesn’t work! Couldn’t find a suitable driver anywhere on the WWW. Not sure if I still have those setup CDs. Argghh! The same thing happened two years ago but I forgot how I fixed it the last time. I’ve been tearing my hair out all morning and am down to the last strand on my head now. HELP!

Seriously, nothing frustrates me more than technology. No wonder I’m so low-tech.



Last week they came and took away our old car, aged 14 years old (!) That battered old bomb that I’ve known for 10 years, and owned for 6. It’s been with us through thick and thin, through the 3 times our parents came to visit, and the few years TM was living here. Through 3 addresses, and a number *cough* of boyfriends (of both m”s & mine!) Through when my hair was short, then long, then short again. And when m”s hair was curly, then straight, then curly again. It accompanied me all the way to, and around, Sydney, and back.

That loyal, ancient thing which was our first vehicle, and which inadvertently gave us quite a fair bit of troubles, not least because we don’t know zip about anything under its bonnet. We scratched it, crashed it (only lightly though), but we loved it. It died – in the middle of the road, TWICE!, but then was revived. We spent a shitload of money replacing its tattered parts over the years, and in return it carted us around on many many a kilometre without much whinging (except for those few rare times.)

If only we’d had a big yard, and not have to pay yearly registration for it, we’d totally keep it there, even if it was going to just forlornly gather dust. When they came to tow it away, I couldn’t bring myself to go outside. Until I did. And upon seeing m”s sulky face, I specifically told her not to get too emotional. And yet here I am…

Gosh, how I miss that bloody old bomb!!! 😦


The other side of the photo

I’ve been doing nothing all day at work. Zip. Zilch. Unless you count scanning up old photos as “doing” something. Then I’ve actually been flat out busy. Really! Knowing me, I take that trip down memory lane quite often. A little too often. But ah well, once you get past a certain, um, age (!), it actually feels nice to look back. (Geez, do I sound like a hundred years old or what?)

Sorting through our childhood photos, I realised it’s not just the photos themselves that’s priceless, what’s equally precious is the handwriting on the back. Most were noted by Mum — with the place, date, and occasion, some written by our paternal grandpa, some scribbled by a 7-year-old me — flowery capitals and childish signatures, and even some random lines & circles doodled on by m’, with a red ballpen on the front of one of my photos! 🙂 So what I’m doing this time, is also scanning the back and attaching it to the photo.

<— Like this. (Woo! World shattering invention hey?)

One of our most favourite things to do is going through these pictures, retelling the stories attached to them, the stories unrelated to them, and then some. Every time I went home, out came the old albums from Mum’s cupboard, and we gathered on the floor next to her bed, doing the same thing. Every single detail was picked out and discussed. What happened at the time, what happened before and after. Why TM looked so sulky, why half of m”s face was in a photo of me, why Dad’s toe and Grandpa’s hand appeared on the corners of one of m’. Oh look, that’s my old school bag that Dad brought for me, which was snatched by some thug when I was in grade 2. And that’s the dress Mum made for m’ in grade 2 and she was still wearing it in another photo in grade 5. And on the sagas go.

Even the albums themselves have tales of their own. Most of our most treasured photos are housed in little mini albums that Dad collected long ago, some of them were free ones from wherever he had the photos developed back then. They can only hold the old, smaller 9x12cm photos. Some others were gifts from friends over the years.

Yesterday I brought these albums to the shop because we don’t have a scanner at home. Didn’t finish scanning but when I left for home I had to lug them along, only to bring them back again today. And now you know what I’d save first if our house ever caught fire. (Touch wood.)


Flamable peony bouquet

TM bought us this gorgeous candle before his last visit in July. Although m’ claims that it’s a gift for her only, since it was just before her birthday. That suits me just fine, not because I’m a generous person, oops I mean, not JUST because of that (!), but also because I know damn well that neither of us is going to light that wick any time soon. If ever. It’s just too pretty.

Which prompted a male friend of ours to wonder aloud with this puzzled, exasperated look on his face, “What’s this thing with girls and their penchant for collecting a vast amount of beautiful, practical items, only to leave them on display?” I see his point. That candle might as well have been made from self-raising flour and I’d love it just the same. In our house, some divinely fragrant soaps never get to see a single drop of water. Instead, they’re left in the closet and only brought out to be sniffed every now and then. Those are another of my obsessions. I get high on that. 🙂

Well, here’s the answer to the above: it’s called “appreciation for the finer things in life“, dude! And you guys only pretend to be annoyed, the fact is you secretly adore that about us. You just don’t want to admit it. Heh heh.


The three monkeys

These dudes reside on our kitchen window sill. I think the message they’re trying to convey is: “See no floppy sloppy sponge cake“, “Hear no explosion (from the oven while baking chestnuts)”, and “Smell/Eat no shrimp paste.” Or some similar wisdom that they’ve acquired, after a few long years watching over our wretched culinary skills.**

The reason I took “artistic” (yeah right!) photo of them and just have to share it with you, is because I made them and because I’m a showy-offy twit. It was the first day at pottery class 4 years ago. (Cue distant look on face, eyes staring into space. FOUR years! Where have they all gone?!) I had lots of fun exerting MUCH muscle power into kneading and folding and shaping of earthy matters. After I plopped together these critters I went right over to get down and dirty at the pottery wheel. (Not that other kind of dirty you pervs!) Never with much luck. My bowls and vases all came out crooked, lopsided, and generally just plain WRONG!

The bit I loved most was trying out different types of glaze. Especially natural graze. You can expect how it’d turn out but you can never be sure. Which is why the littlest dude here looks like he’s got a permanent nasty rash. The big one looks like he’s having one of those exfoliating mud wraps. And the middle one seems to be wearing an all-over-body fishnet. Which wouldn’t be too bad if you were Dita Von Teese, but is plain awful if you’re just a clay monkey whose sole purpose is to spend your days sunbathing on someone’s kitchen window sill, while trying not to get distressed by the sight of their failed baking attempts. I’d surely give them all a total makeover, except I don’t know how. So wacky looking they remain. Poor babies!

Since some people have expressed their doubt at the fact that I really did create those monsters. (They must have thought I was better than that! Aww thank you, thank you.) Here’s the proof:


** Obviously a lie, we’re actually quite good. Seriously! 😉

Mama and Baby piggies

My m’ is a pig. Oops, that didn’t come out right! I mean, she was born in the year of the Pig. Oops some more, that just revealed her age. (Man I’m gonna get an earful of nagging tonight for saying those things IN PUBLIC!) So she’s obsessed with collecting pig figurines, pig soft toys, pig posters, pig everything. Babe is one of her favourite movies. She’s not alone though, many of her “piggie” friends are the same. Which makes me wonder why people born under all the other animal signs are never that fanatical. You don’t see me with a room full of goat-shaped paraphernalia, do you? And TM doesn’t even have anything cat related. Maybe because pigs are so cute — well, at least the toy ones are — with their short little snouts and curly little tails and chubby little tummies full of food / fluff.

Anyway, come to think of it, it’s been mostly our brother and I who have been collecting piggie things for m’. 🙂 Like these guys right here:

Mama Piggie was bought at St. Kilda Sunday market a looong time ago. I think it was in 1999, before m’ came to live here. Baby Piggie was picked up from a different shore, literally. She was “born” only last year, at another beach-side market stall, all the way in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. She’s just the sweetest little thing, “currently” measuring at 1.7cm tall! Both of them are made of clay, although Mama is of a much harder and heavier type. Pretty fitting, hey? Another coincidence is that both of them were brought back to Vietnam for m’, by her incredibly thoughtful, undeniably caring, and unbelievably loving sister. Ahem. 🙂