Six weird things about me

Filed in Fun Stuff, Memories, Personal

Got tagged by Sharon a while back to write about six weird Chet-related things. Off the top of my head, I could only think of one, at most two. After some thinking, I came up with the rest of the list, so here goes.


Six Weird Things about Chet

I was brought up by a nanny

The three of us were – my sister, brother and I. We were not a well-off family – grandfather had a couple of Chinese medicine shops that his sons jointly ran – but we had a working mother (something quite rare in the 50s) , a work-from-home father (we lived upstairs of the shop) and a live-in nanny. Mother had always worked and continued to do so even after she married father. It was a good thing as the job took her away from the petty squabblings among the other daughters-in-law at home (yes, the various families lived under one roof). But it also took her away from her children, and growing up, I remember being closer to my father (he was the one who took me to the doctor when I fell ill) than to her. And of course, to our nanny. I’ve already written about her here, so I won’t say much more, except she was a very important part of my young life. She passed away in 1996, and on the 10th anniversary of her death, I emailed my brother to tell him, and he wrote back to say his clearest memories of her are when we were young. Here’s a “family” portrait (father’s in it, too – behind the camera – and that’s nanny in the background, a shadowy but strong presence in all our lives):

I had my fingernails painted while in kindergarten

For some reason, my strongest memory of this is a close-up of the offending fingernails painted bright red. I was in the teacher’s arms, being rushed to the staff room to have the red washed off.

I was only 4 or 5 at the time, it was a strict kindergarten (the baby section of Kung Cheng Girls’ School) with a “dress down” rule for the older girls which apparently also applied to young ‘uns like me! But we’d just returned from the holidays, and I think I’d spent some of it with my nanny’s daughter, hence, the painted red nails. Thinking back, I think that was the reason I grew up sans painted nails, or any form of make-up.

I love giant pandas

They really, really help me destress after a day (especially a horrendous day) at work. I first made a conscious effort to learn more about them at the start of this century (the year 2000, lah), and haven’t looked back since. There’s a lot of giant panda stuff here on my blog, in fact a whole category called “Stress Busters”.

One positive outcome of my crazy panda love is that I adopted a little one born last September at the Wolong Panda Reserve in China. I’m making plans to visit her later this year. Can’t wait to hold her in my arms. Here she is, at around 100 days old:

I’d named her Yoong Ping in memory of my niece and in honour of my parents but that’s just my name for her. Her official name is Feng Yi, given to her on her first day at Panda kindergarten. So yeah, she’s in kindergarten now. Not sure if she’ll have a red nail experience like me.

I used to volunteer at the Women’s Centre in Norwich, and I did pregnancy testing

I wanted to do something meaningful with my life. I was pretty impressed with the stuff the Women’s Centre in Norwich was doing – they had their own building with various things going on. After looking at what was available, I decided I could do pregnancy testing. I’d go in on Saturday mornings, sit around and wait for women to come in with their urine samples, and do the tests for them. There were two particular incidents that stuck to my mind, both happened on the same Saturday, both in reaction to being told their results. First woman, whose result was positive, looked shit scared and said “He’s going to kill me.” The other woman’s face crumpled as she said they’d been trying so long for a baby (her result had been negative). Years later, I wrote a story about both incidents, with an ending of my own choice, since I never knew what happened to the two women, especially the first one.

I shaved my head bald not once but twice while in college in the States

I’d like to blame this on my days at UEA, but I’d already left England by that time, so how can I? Or can I?

Actually, it’s all E’s fault. I saw her one sunny day on campus and she was all clean shaven, and I thought to myself, “oh cool, I must do this one of these days.” A few months later, I bumped into M in the city, she was wearing one of those furry Russian looking hats. She saw me and raised the hat to me and … she’d gone bald, too. But the effect on me was the opposite of E’s – I was shocked to see how much M looked like a concentration camp victim. I decided then, I wasn’t going to shave my head.

But shave my head I did, a year or more later across the ocean and the wide American expanse in San Diego. It had been quite a traumatic move from Norwich to San Diego, and I think going bald was my way of dealing with it. The campus had claimed to be radical (maybe it was back in the 60s) but it was tame compared to my beloved UEA. So I decided to show them RADICAL and I went bald. I was a teaching assistant at the time and on the first day of class, in a huge auditorium, the professor introduced her team of TAs, each of us standing up when our names were called. When my turn came, I stood up and took off my baseball cap to wave at the kids. But far from shocking people, someone later told me he thought I was recovering from some illness that’d made me bald. WHAT??? (Insert nasty expletive here.)

I shaved bald a second time while still in San Diego, but for reasons totally different from the first time. And yes, I did send some pictures home, in a sealed envelope and a warning on the front. Parents’ reaction? “Your father wants to disown you” wrote mother in her next letter to me. Of course, he never did.

Going bald revealed what a lovely round head I have:

Something I’ve had even when young (and in my nanny’s arms):

I have OCD

That’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In my case, I’m obsessive about making sure doors and windows are closed and locked (and in the case of my car, rolled up). Those of you who’ve taken a ride with me may remember I’d go around checking and re-checking that the doors are locked (even tho I’d clicked the remote and locked them) and the windows are rolled up (how? – by sticking my fingertips up the top to make sure there are no gaps to indicate windows not completely rolled up). It’s even worse at home. I’d be ready to leave the apartment, and I might’ve checked all the windows and doors are closed and the power switches off, but once is not enough, I go back and check again – and I must do this in a particular order, or I start all over again, and again – and even at the door, ready to step out, I look back and go check one more time, just in case. So if you’ve been out with me, and I’ve been late – now you know why. Altho I must say, it’s getting better.


And that’s it, six weird things about Chet. Writing them has brought back a lot of memories. Thanks for this, Sharon. And I mean it in a good way.

And now I tag the following friends to show their weirdness to the world:

Dear Gette in Kuching, Tito Rolly in Manila, Kim in Penang, Anne in Toronto, David in PJ (hmm … ), Ms Doolittle, too

I love you all and I think you’re weird enough (and wonderful, too) to join me in showing your weirdness to the world.

Your assignment – should you choose to accept it (actually, you have no choice) – is to write a blog post of 6 weird things about yourself, and pass this weirdness onto six other weird people to do likewise. Oh, and you need to state the rules clearly, which are as follows:

People who are tagged should write a blog post of 6 weird things about them as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.