Wednesday, May 24, 2006


My cousin Abeth is currently based in Cambridge, taking her MBA. Our grandparents, along with our di-ku and his family (including my 5-year-old cousin Gillian), are over there visiting her. Meanwhile, my cousin Abi is now in Germany working for Volkswagen (say it with me now: Folksvagen ;p). Abi's brother Kevin is planning to go to the UK in August, with a side trip to Germany to see his sister. Abeth is also intending to maximize her Schengen visa by traveling around Europe before she comes home late this year.

Hearing tales of my cousins' experiences in Europe and opportunities for travel/sight-seeing around the continent just depresses me... especially when I take into account that my 5-year-old cousin has stepped foot on European soil, and I haven't. Perhaps my sulking seems a bit melodramatic, but going to Europe has always been on my list of top 3 things to do before I die (have already done #1, teaching; #2, writing/publishing a book, is still a far-off dream). People always assume that a seasoned traveler such as myself has already been to Europe, but sadly it is not true, and the assumption only depresses me further.

Frustratingly enough, I was supposed to accompany my grandparents to Cambridge to see Abeth. Unfortunately, the trip coincided with the Mall of Asia opening so I had to ask di-ku to cancel my booking (sob, sob). Abeth's sister Amuy addressed me in an email to our cousin YahooGroup, encouraging me to plan my own trip and telling me about a friend of hers our age who used up all her savings traveling around Europe for 4 weeks. I replied to her with this:

"sigh, i'm afraid i don't have the same luxury as your friend. i can't exactly up and leave for 4 weeks. my bosses (i.e. my folks) would kill me. kidding aside, i do feel tied to the family business now, not unwillingly, but really committed to it. so it's impossible to indulge my wanderlust without abandoning my duties and obligations, even temporarily. not that i'm an indispensable part of the company or anything, but i just don't want to leave my parents hanging when they need me around. plus, they've invested a lot in our new office building so i can't exactly throw all my savings down the tube traipsing around europe, as tempting as that sounds."

I realize I may have sounded like a bleeding martyr, but I really meant what I wrote in that email. A huge part of me is now bound to our company so tightly that I sometimes find it easy, natural even, to shelve some of the things I want for the sake of the business. I don't know if it means that I'm finally becoming passionate about what I'm doing now (I still maintain passion is both my best and worst quality), or that I'm beginning to weigh things like a practical businessperson. Maybe it's both.

My mom says I'm not a born entrepreneur, that I have very little business sense and that I'll always be an intellectual/academic at heart. I agree. But I also think I have enough of HER business sense in me, and the little that I have is now drawn to the work I'm doing. Besides, this isn't just about work, this is about my family too, and I will always, always be passionately devoted to them. More than teaching. More than writing. More than Europe.

But dammit, someday, SOMEday, I'll make it there. ;p


At Friday, May 26, 2006, Anonymous jen ong said...

Europe is great, even though I've only stepped foot in Germany and in the airport in Paris. Nevertheless, I share your sentiments. One day, I'll go backpacking around Europe and see everything. :D

At Friday, May 26, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Years back, my best friend and I planned to go to Europe together someday. Up to now it's still a far-off dream. But it's a nice dream nonetheless. Besides, once I'm done with the other 2 things I want to do before I die, it's going to be a really boring life for me from that point on. :p

At Wednesday, June 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said... good. SOMETIMES. I loved my 5mos in the phils. just watching AI and TAR. washing vegetables, going to the markets with mama, going to megamall the whole day, watching a movie alone, while munching on kettle corn. sure it was agitating, because i didnt know what to do next. but on on their own, the 5mos were fabulous!

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and think, life is just pointless. All this, for nothing. We take nothing to our graves. But i have started to think about things from a backward looking perspective. What kind of a life do I want to look back to? To reminisce over. That vision is what I set out to create. Labo ba? On a more concrete level, what do i want to see in my photo albums years from now?

That, i learned, is much much easier than envisioning something for the future and gradually making your way towards it. Because it never ends! You keep setting the goals higher, and you can never ever ever quell your appetite. It's a kind of hunger that feeds on hunger. I look around me and see all these people... with their passports which would allow them to go anywhere. no commitments to family businesses, no plans to live a high-roller life (business class flights or 500usd/night hotels), and i know they will enjoy life - a kind of living that is sedate and eeeeaaaasy. i want that too, but the way i was born and raised won't permit me to enjoy such a life.

so we deal with what we have to deal with. rudy ang said it best: THATS WHY IT'S CALLED A PRIVILEGE, and not a RIGHT. you are lucky if you have the time and money for it. if you don't, too bad.

yup, that's LIFE huh?

abi, still struggling in its definition

At Thursday, June 29, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

What a coincidence, that was going to be the topic of my next blog post, the eternal question of what the point of life is if we all end up six feet under anyway. Will attempt to grapple with some heavy philosophical shit. :p

For once I agree with Rudy. Play with the cards you're dealt, no use whining about them. Play, fold, or better yet, raise the stakes. :)


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