July 2010

Bye bye twenties

I never thought that turning thirty was such a big deal.

So much so that I didn’t even bother planning a celebration. (Come to think of it, I didn’t plan one for Rick either – although that probably says more about my sloth and laziness as his spouse.)

Until 10.30pm the night before my birthday, I started to get teary.

I couldn’t believe it. Had I really become that attached to my twenties?

To satisfy the need in me to be all weepy and emotional, I decided to reminisce about the decade that was coming to an inevitable end.

And this was my very deep and meaningful reflection:

Invested in one lipstick.
Scored two (awesome) sisters.
Birthed three (beautiful) boys.
Moved four times.
Loved by five church families.
Married to The Fantastic Rick for six years.
Bought seven Macs.
Tried to exercise eight times.
No wait, make that nine.
Gained ten kilos.

So twenties, we had some good times, you and I.

But now it’s time to say bye bye.

When I was a little girl, I used to read Jackie Collins novels. I still remember the day I innocently picked up my first copy for fifty cents from a book stall at our annual high school charity day. So really, when you think about it, it’s the school’s fault that I caught the naughty Collins bug.

That first book was Lady Boss, and Lucky Santangelo became my hero. She was dark-haired, beautiful and smart, and she had guts and wit. But more importantly, she built hotels. Tall, glitzy five-star hotels.

So from the tender age of eleven or twelve, it became my dream and goal in life to build a hotel. As I told my friends back then, I wanted to walk into my hotel every morning, wave curtly at the people behind reception and have everyone bow and call me “Ms Chan” as I headed to my private elevator which would take me up to my penthouse office. Lucky wouldn’t have had it any other way.

All this to say that we checked into Four Seasons Sydney last Friday evening, checked out on Sunday at midday, and in between enjoyed one and a half days of pure relaxation, pampering and fun.

Seriously, what a tasteful hotel: luxurious, classic decor and not at all gaudy or pretentious. And the brilliant attention to detail – from the shower tap that allowed me to control the temperature (I mean, what is that?), to the dark mahogany box filled with not cigars but crisp, white stationery, to the awesome shoe drawers that I’d never seen anywhere else, to the classy green bag our Saturday morning paper was delivered in, to the soft, hushed tones with which all their spa ‘treatment specialists’ spoke. In fact, so hynoptised and relaxed was I during my facial, that I kept falling asleep, only to be woken up each time by my own abrupt snoring. It is a testament to the staff’s professionalism that my ‘specialist’ kept a completely straight face, even as she asked me afterwards, “So how did that feel?”

And just look at this amazing table setting – even though all we ordered were a small bowl of soup, a pudding and a large bowl of white rice (come on, we had to cut costs somewhere).

I like to think that if I had built my fake, fantasy hotel, the Lucky Santangelo in me would’ve thought of all these little touches.

My low point of the weekend came when I shoved my perfectly manicured hands under the warm, fluffy towel during the facial, only to discover afterwards that my nails hadn’t actually dried properly and so my nails ended up with a patterned finish. You should’ve seen the tears I shed over my own stupidity.

And to @FSSydney who saw my comment about the late room service breakfast on Twitter, we weren’t at all bothered by it. The 30th floor view of the Sydney Opera House more than made up for it.

(Yes, we fell for the room upgrade at reception. It’s like when they ask you if you want fries and a coke with your Big Mac. How on earth are you meant to say ‘no’?).

So this was my dream last night – or maybe early this morning after Angus’ 8am bottle.

I am taking giant leaps (we’re talking X-Men type jumps here) down these huge stone steps next to a big stone building. It is someone’s wedding day perhaps. There may have been green grass somewhere. When I get to the bottom, I see a waiter (or it may have been a ninja) shoot a beautiful woman in the back. No one else sees it. I am the only witness. I am the only one who knows – the truth.

Unfortunately no one cares who shot this woman. But the man who I am meant to marry was secretly in love with her (but I knew, because Dream Me is smart), and in his grief, he decides there is no room on his period style horse carriage for me anymore. So he takes off on his rickety carriage, taking with him the man who is secretly in love with me. Why does he not jump off the carriage to be with me? Dream Me will never know.

But wait, there’s more.

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I feel like I’ve come of age.

For the first time in our married life, I have not furnished our home with primarily IKEA products.

Not that IKEA isn’t still great for inexpensive basic items, but in setting up house this time around, I opted to combine basic IKEA furniture with a vast array of second-hand items from the retro Eames era – a period, it seems, when furniture design could do no wrong.

eBay and Etsy became my best friends, as did a few retro furniture vendors – one even based in Melbourne! Rick was fantastic – he loved my vision of an eclectic look made up of both retro and modern items, and happily drove around picking up items from all over Sydney.

This is one of my favourite spots in our house: it’s the ‘centrepiece’ of our lounge room, and is usually the first thing visitors see as they come through the front door.

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On Saturday night, I put Spanx to the test.

It was Kitty’s 30th birthday celebration and it was to be held at the swanky Danks Street Depot in Waterloo, where Jared Ingersoll is head chef. I like Jared – I mean, I only know him from Ready, Steady Cook, but he seems like a nice guy. And a great cook (because, you know, you can taste food through the TV). I even got to use his photo once in an ad for Sustainable Seafoodies where the tagline was “You could be munching on an endangered shark!” Admittedly, I did experience slight pangs of hypocrisy doing that ad, considering how I grew up eating shark fin at all sorts of celebratory occasions, being Chinese and all.

But anyway.

After handing Angus over to the capable arms of my mum, I decided I would have some fun getting ready for Kitty’s big night, since Rick and I almost never eat out at such trendy places.

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With love

A poem I wrote for Cameron last week…

With love, you were conceived.

With divine power, your life was given.

With awe, we heard your heartbeat.

With joy, we found out you were a boy.

With pride, we named you Cameron.

With excitement, we felt you move.

With wonder, we watched you grow.

With patience, nine months passed.

With fear, we drove to the hospital.

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My mind is so foggy from exhaustion at the moment that I can barely see the computer screen in front of me.

I’m meant to be paying bills and projecting our riveting household cash flow for the next month, but all I can do is sit here and shiver in this ridiculous cold and try not to drool on my desk.

The good news is that we are officially on day one of our holiday.

The bad news is that Rick and I are both so tired that we can hardly hold a coherent conversation with each other, much less do anything remotely interesting or romantic. (Yes, romantic. Married people can still be romantic, right? Right, Rick? Right!?).

We would love to go away with the boys but two things hold us back:

1) We desperately need to sleep for one whole night without infantile interruption.

2) We just don’t have the energy to pack up cots, high chairs, rockers, strollers, bath tubs, twenty kilos of nappies, ten thousand layers of clothes, etc. just so we can do the same things we do at home but in a different geographical location for a few days.

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