|i could go on for 40 days and 40 nights about my blog title and bore you to bits and pieces with 10,000 different ideas i actually had for the name of this blog but because of the 500 characters limit that is imposed upon this mechanism which, by the way, is supposed to promote free speech, i shall shorten it to just two words basically describing what the hell this is all about and who this hell belongs to.|
Monday, June 09, 2008
how i got my Platinum card and still couldn't make the father proud
(apologies for having not blogged for so long, plenty of activities and educational pursuits and work matters, apologies for another post on family issues as well. you must be bored to death hearing about my father and his constant suppresion of myself. i'll blog about something as next week. otherwise, i'll.... ehrm... post naked pictures of myself!)
my paternal family has the sort of 'fun-filled family activities' enthusiasm going on that can really sometimes irk you to death. you see, it all started with one fine Christmas gathering when the entire family committed to spending more time together. this particular Christmas gathering was the one that had just passed apparently. the one whereby my father tried to convince the entire family that the world was ending and that we were to tighten our chastity belts and keep a good check on our faiths to see if we were still in tune with the Lord. the one when everyone simply just laughed at my father's all too zealous belief that the world was ending. the one whereby my father still has a sore spot over the fact that the paternal family laughed at his claims.
in all honesty, it wasn't that my family didn't believe in his theories of apocalypse. everyone in my paternal family (well, practically everyone - i'm not that there yet in terms of faith) is a strong Christian that truly deserves a one-way ticket to heaven. but it was more of the way he did the whole spiel that made everyone think that he was verging on a crusade or matyrdom. it's all cool to believe in an 'end-days' theory, but to be a doomsday preacher is way not cool. which my father apparently needs someone to drill it into him. but how many people actually approach their local doomsday prophet and actually correct them or tell them 'it's not cool'?
the more i think about it, when i actually dress my father in the scholarly robes of yore, hand him 95 pieces of theses and place him in front of the Wittenburg church door, i begin to realize that i have actually been living with a Martin Luther in the house. not exactly in a 'it's wrong for the Catholic church to withhold the bible in a foreign language from the public' kinda way, but more of 'i challenge the authority' manner. it's quite apparent that the doomsday belief of this Martin Luther father of mine (and i say this with all the love in the world for the man who raised me up) has apparently tainted and coloured his social life. my father has only friends from church. my father only conducts business dealings (eg. insurance agents) with like-minded brethren. he even managed to convert his best friend from Catholicism to Christianity. last heard, i think he was a Deacon in one of the sister churches of my dad's in Canada.
so you see, given that we're not getting much of a social life in terms of a family unit, i think it's a prudent investment of time to go on various outings with the paternal family over the weekends. what sort of outings you say? thus far, when we don't head out into the public, we rotate potluck parties at each others house on a weekly basis. we would try to have themes and prepare dishes in accordance to the themes. so far, we have only been successful at Western, Japanese, Korean and of course, Chinese cuisine. actually the Korean was falling apart with the appearance of Chinese ngoh hiong rolls (translated to mean '5 spices' - it's my grandmother's speciality).
when we do go out however, it's much more interesting. we do morbidly embarrassing things like go out to the park with picnic tables in tow. we literally find a grassy spot under the shade and open up this grassy-green coloured portable picnic table that's the size of a hedge. in fact, it blends in very well with a hedge (thank goodness!). since we have only two tables that can sit a family of four, the others would make do with the trusty ol' picnic mats. and not just any ordinary picnic mats, but tacky Spiderman 2 mats courtesy of Colonel Sander (it came free with a family feast from KFC). and sometimes i question their cleanliness because we don't often do picnic moments together. so the picnic mats tend to be in great need of dusting. i can't really tell whether it's just Spiderman's webs or really cobwebs.
during these picnic outings however, there's always a bizarre mix of foods. everyone brings whatever they can lay their hands on. packets of chips that nobody eats at home, a big metal pot of Shark's fin soup (can you actually say that you actually have eaten Shark's fin soup in a park in shorts and singlet), bottles of green tea, a box of 16 doughnuts, roasted duck, a chunk of agar-agar that looks like a fish (??). of course, there's the standard fare of fried vermicelli and finger foods like sausages and nuggets.
it's all these outings that i come truly prepared. i bring along a good novel and my ipod and indulge in a good half-hour's worth of reading. another person who does the same, albeit without the music, is my uncle-in-law who opened the nursing degree programme that i'm currently being educated at. my selection of reads are mainly limited to fiction and the occasional popular non-fiction literature. whereas my uncle-in-law is the direct opposite. he reads books on financial management and success. he would always be armed with a copy of the Business Times and financial magazines. titles like 'You Can be Financially Prudent Too!' and 'Money Matters' flash across my mind when you ask me about the books that he reads. i just met him again last week and i saw him reading 'Master Plan of Evangelism'. eclectic mix of books, that's all that i can say.
i've come to realize that the both of us are the only one who don't really talk much to the paternal family. my reason mainly being that i'm in the presence of my parents and don't find much comfort in expressing myself. my uncle-in-law however, it's a different matter. the only moments he chips in are when it involves politics and financial matters. and he's quite well-versed in these things. listening to him talk is like watching a political commentary. which admittedly, thrills me to no boundaries. i'm sure he quotes most of the stuff from the books that he reads. but it's almost like watching Robert Kiyosaki at work. which is quite possibly the next best thing to sex (for me, at least).
Robert Kiyosaki and Martin Luther... isn't my paternal family quite the fun bunch?
they say that good financial habits comes from good parenting. however, when it comes to all things financial, i'm about as wise as a piece of banana money. my parent's idea of financial prudence is a matter of saving for the rainy days. as the free thinker of the family, i feel a presing need to go against the grain. every day seems to be a rainy day for me. after all, what's money if you don't spend it? of course, i'm not that callous with money. just a tad more generous when it comes to friends and colleagues.
still, i've come to realize that i've made many financial errors in my life. one of the top ones begin that i took up a financial advisor that was introduced to me by my mother. she joins the church choir (she's a soprano) and knows a lot of people in there. one of these people that she's connected with, is an insurance agent or more aptly put these days, a financial advisor. he's a Christian guy whom i suspect is a closet case or at least someone who's trying to suppress those man-loving tendencies. he owns EVERY season of Friends on DVD (not exactly crminally gay) that he keeps in an OCD-resemblant disc folder, he speaks in a light tenor voice, and well... the ground that he treads on basically sprouts pink daisies. but he's a good Christian aman and i can without a doubt attest to that. problem is, i don't feel comfortable sharing my financial situation with brethren that are as like-minded as my father. and my financial advisor is one of them. it was with him that i signed up two insurance policies that amount to a monthly premium of $354.67.
my parents expect a monthly contribution from my salary to the household expenses. which i'm actually fine with. the initial amount was a whopping $500, which in reality i can figure out lots of foolish ways to dwindle it down. i can buy all the lap dances i want for an entire night and still have enough to spare for a a supper for two, a cab ride to the nearest love hotel and the transit rate there. i bargained it down to $300 stating that i was just starting out work, which the father expressed unhappiness and compared me to the cousins who literally contributed $500 a month. if there's one thing parents should never do is to compare their children to that of relatives. it's demeaning. and anyways, the brother's the one who wastes electricity by leaving all the switches on on the 'vampire' electronic devices.
then there's the issue of my school fees that sets me back by about $250 every month. my phone bill as well which never exceeds its stipulated minutes every month since i don't really like to talk on the phone. this basically results in me having roll-over minutes EVERY month. i do subscribe to a wireless broadband service though. total - $67.50. a World of Warcraft account costs me $25.14 per month. adding the odds and edds and i fork out a total of $997.31. i bring home about $1.8 - $2k every month from working the permanent night shifts. which leaves me about $1K every month. and apparently, it's bordering on being insufficient. i find myself lacking about $50 every month. i think it's the smoking.
you see, i smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. and i can't do the low-end brands because they make my throat phlegmy and leave a terrible after-taste. not that i'm trying to be prissy or classy or anything like that. but the only cigarettes that i can enjoy and i find a good investment in are Dunhill Kings, Consulates, Camels and Marlboro Ice Mints. so it's practically $11-12 a pack. not helping is that i need to be at Starbucks every weekend to help generate these blog posts. so if you add up here and there, i'm actually surviving on an amount that's just sufficient, short of $50. i throw $50-100 into savings every month which i end up having to tap back into.
i'm not thinking of quitting smoking or even cutting down any time soon. the last time i bought new clothes was when i was in Thailand. before that, it was during the Chinese New Year, before that it was Christmas and before that? my birthday in October. so i'm not exactly splurging on materialistic goods.
so when i think about my finances, it basically all boils down to matter of unwise financial decisions that i'm bogged down with. the insurance especially. but i understand that in the long run (pending the doomsday prophecy), it really helps. the bigger problem though is that every month i'm constantly having to head back to the parents for money. and i'm not asking money from THEM, but rather, trying to tap on my savings which i decided to let my father safeguard. alas, my father being the prophet of the end times would never release my savings to me without 'the talk'. now, 'the talk' would usually last about a half hour or more. it would usually start from my smoking habits, and develop and evolve till it reaches his favourite doomsday prophecy. the first few times when he did it, it did have some form of impact on me. subsequent times however, it was much less impressionable. mainly because it was the same old recycled material that he would always use. keywords that would often pop up during 'the talk' would be things like 'gnashing of teeth' (to describe what hell was like), 'seven years of trials and tribulations' and 'rivers turning to blood'. and all i wanted was the take some money from my savings...
and to crown it off, he would never ever release my savings to me based on a previous experience of me splurging when i had a lot of money in my bank account. of course, i was young and i was new to the whole concept of holding a singular fifty dollar note in my hand. and splurge i did. what my father would normally do would be to take him like a credit card and roll over the money. so every month, i tap on my father's credited money and roll the money to the next month to pay him back. in all reality, i might as well get a credit card with all the legal and financial implications behind it and be spared the hellfire and brimstone prophecy.
so i did the administrative procedures for a Citibank savings account and credit card application over the weekend. it was smooth-going and my application was approved within two hours. it was after that unfortunately that i had to consider whether to come clean with the father regarding my credit card application. because, living with them is like living with the Secret Police. they used to go through all my mail until one fine day when i raised my voice and locked my bedroom door. they were so freaked out that they never dared to go through any of my mail again. i decided to save the voice-raising and door-locking for emergencies in the future.
out of love and honesty and a responsibility to my parents, i decided to talk to my father about the application and its approval. i tried a 'i want to take responsibility of financial matters now that i can manage better' tactic with my father. suffice to say, my father on top of being the Martin Luther of the family is now quite the wet blanket. 'Are you sure you can manage a credit card because from previous records, i don't think so,' he started. and thus he launched into his barrage about bankruptcy and the seriousness of it and how the banks will come after me if i can't pay up and et cetera. i was hoping for something more along the lines of 'oh congrats on getting your first ever credit card' or maybe even a smile or some sense of pride. and he once again had to make a comparison between my all-too-perfect cousin who saves money every month and contributes a lot of money to the household and can rent a car every month to take the family out. i hate being compared.
i'm thinking that i will never ever be able to make the father proud unless i become a Martin Luther myself. alas, monastery robes and all that are just not my thing. i wish the Robert Kiyosaki of an uncle-in-law was my father. but i try to refrain from doing that because that's already a comparison, no?
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