15 May 2017

I went to visit my grandfather at the hospital yesterday.

He had checked himself in the day before due to chest pains. He was having difficulty breathing. And given how many times he had had heart surgery he wasn’t going to take any chances.

My mother called him yesterday morning and established what floor he was on, then we set off for the hospital.

Arriving in the spacious room with about thirty beds, I saw him. He was sitting on the bed, hunched over a few pieces of paper. He had not seen us.

The image struck me. He looked so vulnerable and alone. And the thing is, he is vulnerable and alone. He has a live-in helper, but that’s nothing compared to family.

He looked up, saw us, and put his papers away. My dad brought stools, and my mom and I sat down next to the bed. We sat with him for two hours, talking about this and that. My dad sat some distance away on the visitor’s bench, playing a game on his phone.

I was the one who suggested leaving. It was getting late afternoon and I wanted to sort through our DVD collection when I got home.

My grandpa was sad that we were leaving. He didn’t say anything, but you could feel it. As we walked away I looked back, and wished I hadn’t.

He looked dejected. There was no better word to describe the image that I saw. He was sitting alone on the bed, and loneliness weighed down around him.

The whole episode reminded me of the fact that I still have my grandpa, that he is alone in his house, far away from us, and that he could leave us at a moment’s notice.

I’ll call him today to check up on him. I’ll also make time to go visit him on my days off. There’s a bus I can take that goes straight to his house.

I hope for the sake of me and him that the image stays with me. So I never forget that I have one very important person I need to spend time with.

I will try my best not to forget. I really will. This is my promise to myself.

Let’s not forget our elderly relatives. Let’s love them and be with them as freely as we do our friends and colleagues.

Until next time,

A thoughtful Val

23 October 2015

We went shopping today! *fireworks*

Before I continue, let’s get this out of the way: no, I haven’t re-started my novel. Soon. Really. Pinky promise. (Confused readers go here.)

Now let’s get back to today’s topic: shopping.

I rarely go shopping. Only on national holidays with my parents (read: mom). Unlike most (?) girls, I never feel the urge to go shopping. I never look into my wardrobe and think, “Ah, I don’t have this in that colour; I need more of this; That’s getting old; so on and so forth”. I’m as far from a fashionista as can be and I usually make do with whatever I find in my closet (synonym for ‘wardrobe’. I don’t like repeating words; a habit from my IELTS days perhaps).

But I had fun today. In fact, I always have fun going shopping with my mom. It’s a fun activity to do together. (That’s three ‘fun’s in a row – for shame.) In fact, I generally enjoy hanging out with her: my mom can be really cute, in a very good way. I have gone shopping alone in the past, when I was living abroad. But I didn’t really enjoy it and I only went when I really had nothing in the closet. (Two ‘really’s – what’s up with me today!) I’d buy a million things at once and that would last me years. One of the items I wore today actually came from a shopping trip four or five years ago. It’s funny; I always wear the same clothes but they never wear out. Not that I’m complaining; that’s more money I can spend on books.

Today’s trip to the department store was unexpectedly productive. I hadn’t planned on buying anything; I had recently gained weight (hospital food was amazeballs) and in an effort to commit to losing it have pledged not to buy new clothes that accommodate my protruding belly. But I found this really cute longish white shirt that conveniently makes me look not fat. And then there were two other shirts which were okay but one can never have too many shirts. So yes, three shirts in total.

Then my mom reminded me that I needed a black eyeliner (which I do) and we went over to the MAC counter where we forked over THB 765 for this. For some reason, way back when I first encountered the concept of face paint, I started using MAC eyeliners. And I’ve stuck with the brand since. Not that it’s especially good (it always smudges). It’s just that I’ve formed a habit and I do not have neither the desire nor the patience to research on alternative eyeliners. I just can’t be bothered. (That’s behavioural economics for you.)

So yes, we bought the eyeliner. Then we went over to Daiso. In case you’re not familiar with the store, it’s a chain from Japan where you can buy most things for THB 60. (Though not in Japan obviously. They don’t accept the Thai baht over there, though who knows what will happen with the constant influx of Thai tourists; you cannot go anywhere without bumping into Thai people, and stores usually have signs written in Thai.) Tangent over, guess what was the first thing we saw when we went inside the store?

Yes, an eyeliner. A whole rack of them. THB 60 apiece. That’s THB 705 cheaper than the one I had bought not even a half hour before. I could trade the MAC eyeliner for a dozen of these Daiso ones. So I bought one. And if it turns out to be good (made in Korea; I have high hopes), today will be the last MAC sees of me. Gosh, I am getting mildly distressed thinking of all that money I’ve potentially wasted.

It’s crazy how much three letters cost: M-A-C. And it’s not even one of the more expensive cosmetics brands. Or maybe it is? I’m really not learnt in the economics of cosmetics goods. Maybe you could enlighten me as to the relative ranking of MAC compared to other cosmetics brands. I would appreciate it. *smiley face*

Anyways, let’s talk of better and brighter things: books! I bought books! So many books! I was extremely pleased to find that Sophie Kinsella’s latest Shopaholic book (THB 595) is out. This is the second Shopaholic book (after Shopaholic to the Stars) she’s released this year (money, money, money). And for an avid reader of the series such as myself, this is excellent news. So I bought that. Along with Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (it’s tiny!) and a bunch of other classics. I’m especially looking forward to reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night (THB 125). I read The Great Gatsby some years ago and it was a powerful read (yes, powerful; I cannot think of a better way to express the book’s impact on me).

Note how classics are so much cheaper than modern reads. Interestingly, books become cheaper, rather than more expensive, the older they get. Hail to the printing press! May no books ever go out of print. (I’ve had to track down out-of-print books before. It’s more expensive of course but if you don’t mind the condition of the book you could usually find willing sellers of second-hand copies easily enough.)

What else did we do? Ah yes. We ate. A lot. So much food. So much good food. Hmmm. No wonder the weight-losing has been so many months in the making. I do exercise a lot. Just not enough to outweigh the food intake. (Eat less. That’s one more thing to add to my to-do list after ‘write novel’.) It doesn’t help that I bought snacks to stock up at home. Oops. My excuse is that we rarely go out and that I deserve a treat from time to time. (I convince no one.)

This has turned out to be a lengthier post than expected. Well, it’s been an eventful day. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. I’ve certainly enjoyed writing it.

Now it’s time for me to get on with my German. (Yes, I’m still doing that every day. A hooray for me!) Today’s word to master is der Magen (stomach). It looks easy but for some reason it’s resolutely refusing to enter my memory. Urgh. I hate sticky words. Then I also have to memorise which prepositions are followed by the Accusative case and which by the Dative case. I have a feeling this will be one of the more difficult tasks yet. Good. I like difficult. The more difficult, the more fun (it’s got to do with a sense of accomplishment you see).

I’ll stop blabbering now.

Tschüss!

Val