Sunday, December 30, 2012


My first born turns 21 today . What a blessing he has been, my teddy bear boy.

On this day, he is legally an independent adult. I wish him well in the years to come...but in my heart, he will always be my baby boy, the first one to open up my heart and eyes to the wonderful crazy world of motherhood

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Spirit of Christmas

This article describes the true spirit of Christmas.

We have been enjoying the company of both our boys this Christmas.  This is so much more than what the families of the victims of the Newtown & Rochester, and many others who have lost dear ones have.

My hope for the new year & for years to come is that they would not have died in vain.  Change HAS to happen.  If not, then we might as well go back to the days of the Wild Wild West.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Winding Down

As the year comes to a close just over a week from now, it is also a time of reflection for me.  I have been relatively silent on this blog because (ironically), it's been such an eventful year.  And if I write at all, my posts have been noticeably short.

From W's graduation from high school, to our relocation from Beijing to Hong Kong, to the actual move, then helping W settle into college, and spending time with the parental units as well as the in-law, and trying to find my way around HK, organizing a big anniversary dinner for my parents here together with hosting my immediate family in our very small apartment... *deep breath*.... just reading the summary of what all these events is enough to make me tired, let along write about it all!

Now that Z is here for the winter break, and W arriving tomorrow, it's time for some family time, a rare occasion indeed when we are all under one roof simultaneously!  We leave for a much-needed & longed for beach vacation in Phuket next week.

The year has gone by in a blur.  Some events which stand out for me (apart from those already mentioned above) were the US elections (which thankfully, Obama won), watching Jason Mraz perform in HK (amazing, as always) and the recent massacre of children & teachers in Newtown, MA (such a sad tragedy).  The latter incident saddens & angers me.  I have blogged about the lack of gun control in the USA before, and sad to say, nothing much has changed since.  I hope that everyone can sit down & have a civilized conversation about this issue & come up with good, practical implementable solutions to this multifactoral problem.  I hope that these children did not die in vain; that they will be remembered, not as victims of a crazed person who had such easy access to deadly weapons, but as the stimuli which pushed for change for the better.

Merry Christmas everyone, and give your child(ren) an extra hug today.

And have a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Musings from the Empty Nest 2

Smooth transition into empty nest-hood notwithstanding, reuniting with Z & eventually W will still be a wonderful event.  We will go to our first family vacation in a long time, heading to the sunny shores of Phuket, Thailand where we plan to do nothing but bask in the sun, take long walks on the beach, and enjoy Thai food.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Musings from the Empty Nest 1

When I see, or am in the company of, infants/toddlers/pre-schoolers in all their hyperactive glory, all I can say is:

"Thank God I don't have to go through that again."


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Staying Connected

The wonders of technology...this morning, we watched a live feed of Jason Mraz performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  Z in Indiana, W in Boston and me, in Hong Kong.

We were able to chat on Facebook during his concert, commenting on his performance & the music & the background musicians.

I love technology.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Random Observations

Things I've noticed since arriving in Hong Kong:

  • at 5' 4", I tower above the average HK adult female (this is most obvious while standing in the MTR)
  • the streets of HK are as crowded as the streets of NYC
  • the pedestrians on the streets of HK are less orderly than those on the streets of NYC 
  • taxi drivers drive like hellions whether it's on a straight stretch of highway or on the winding hilly roads of the Mid Levels
  • I hear a lot more Mandarin now compared to a few years ago
  • people moan about the air pollution in HK.  But I say you ain't seen pollution till you've seen it in Beijing
  • there are a lot of androgynous-looking people here (not a judgement, just an observation)

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Election Fever

The final count is happening now.  Despite having lived in the USA for several years, I never quite "got" the election process.  Electoral college, popular votes.... to me, it doesn't quite make sense.  I know the history of how this process came about, but for heaven's sake, we are living in the 21st century now.  I am sure there is a fairer (and more democratic) way of voting.

And partisan politics is just messed up.  You do something because it makes sense, not because it's the Democratic or Republican stance.  Sometimes when I watch some of the campaign speeches and ads, I just want to put on my maternal hat & say, "Now, children, play nice and work'll probably end up achieving better results that way."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Long Distance

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that "Frankenstorm" has been in the news the last several days, with storm watches going on, up and down the East Coast of the USA.

 A & I have been watching the storm's progress because W is in Boston, living in a basement apartment & with flood warnings, & power outage warnings etc etc, we can't help but worry.

We've been IM-ng & Skype-ing with him regularly for updates & advice on what to stock up on and so on and so forth.  But W says, "Don't worry, I have it under control".

Thing is, the deal with parenting is that the worrying doesn't stop, & I think the degree of worry tends to increase exponentially with the distance between our offspring & ourselves.

Monday, October 08, 2012


I can safely say that for once in my life, I have time on my hands.  No deadlines, no work to get to, no schedules to follow, no school events to organize.  It has been liberating but at the same time, I feel myself at loose ends, trying to find myself again - no, let me re-phrase that: trying to re-define myself.  It's a bit like adolescence but without the angst & anxiety; having the life experiences & maturity that comes with age tampers down the extremes of emotions that seems to come with raging teenage hormones.

I have been a Daughter, a Student, a Doctor, a Wife, a Mother.  These labels came/come with attending responsibilities & duties.  I am still all that but now, for the first time, I can put Me on top of the list.  

Monday, October 01, 2012

Travel Weary

Seven flights in three months = pedal oedema

Time to listen to my body and take a break from globe trotting.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I am in Singapore this week.  It astounds me how much the population has grown.  There are more people, more traffic, more new buildings.  Also, more expensive cars, more expensive homes.

This does not feel like home anymore.  It's just too much.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Heading home

Two more days and A & I head back to the fragrant harbor.  I, for one, am tired of living out of a suitcase.  It's been almost two months since I left HK with W.  We have spent time with my MIL in NYC, my sis in TX, and in motels/hotels in Beantown, running errands, setting up living spaces, etc etc.

I have spent more time abroad than I have in our new "home" in HK.  I have yet to physically and psychologically assimilate myself & I know that I need to do that soon as part of the moving-on process.

HK here I come (again).

Friday, September 07, 2012

Letting Go

So today is the day we leave W in Beantown to start his independent life as a college student.

No tears or histrionics for me, I think.  I have mentally prepared myself for this over the last several months.  Being here to help him set up his apartment and making sure that everything is OK has helped with the transition (both his & mine!)

So here we go....a new phase in my life.

Let's roll.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Transitions 2.0

More than two years ago, we sent Z off to college.  He has done well, made friends, enjoying his courses.

Now, it's W's turn.  We have arrived in Boston, having driven four hours in a fully loaded car from NYC.  Orientation starts this weekend & A & I will leave just over a week from today.

I am not sure if it will be easier or harder this time around. I think I will be fine as long as I don't start thinking too much about the separation.  And as long as my imagination doesn't run away with me.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Da***d difficult to blog using an iPhone hence the radio silence.

More when I am connected again ...

Thursday, August 23, 2012


It's been a scorcher of a summer so far.  We've been here for about a month: New York City, Boston and now Houston. The heat seems to follow us & I long for the colder weather of winter to come.  

We have been getting things ready for W to move into his apartment when he starts college in a couple of weeks.  It's a tedious process.  Utilities, internet & cable service, furniture & so on & so forth.  I am hoping that W will be self-sufficient when he is on his own, like his older brother.  He tells me repeatedly that he'll be fine.  I can't help worrying.

He is my baby after all.

Friday, July 20, 2012

To 'E' or not to 'E'

I am currently reading this book.

A friend passed it to me before we left Beijing, together with its sequel.

I was initially reluctant to bring it with us to HK given the amount of stuff that we already have & the limited storage capacity of our current abode

And also, I have, for some time now, with the MANY books that we've accumulated over the years, and the lack of shelf space in our bookcase, switched to electronic books in order to appease my never ending love & thirst for reading.  How about libraries, one may ask.  Well, libraries stocking English books in Beijing are not exactly easy to find, let alone bookstores with good stock of English books.  And besides, for me, a book is not just a book, but most of the time, it becomes an old friend that one wants to tuck away with the intention of re-visiting again sometime in the near (or far) future.  

Hence our problem with the overstocked book shelves.

In any case, I am glad that I did keep this book gift as it is an engrossing read (so far).  And there is something about reading a good old made-of-paper book that feels familiar & friendly, like putting on an old comfy sweater.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Flying Away

In two days, W & I leave for the USA in the first leg of our summer travel which will eventually end up in Boston where W will be starting college.

So this is it then.  The start of our journey as empty nesters.  After settling W in, A & I are planning a short road trip down the northeastern coast of the US, just the two of us.  It'll be just us, once more, a chance for us to rediscover ourselves as a couple, instead of as a nuclear family of four.  Oh, we will miss our boys and they will forever be a part of our family.

But this new beginning will be nice - a fresh start of new opportunities & experiences.

Hey World, here we come!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mr A-Z

It's been six years since I've watched Jason Mraz perform 'live' on stage,  Tonight A & I watched him perform in HK at the Asia-World Arena, and what a show it was.

His talent has only grown & matured over the last several years.  The show he put on tonight was what I would call a "musician's" show, with a full band including a brass section and strings & keyboards.  Very unlike the one he put on in 2006 with Toca Riviera but just as entertaining.

His repertoire included oldies from his earlier albums including an emotional rendition of You & I Both, and Mr Curiosity.   Of course, he had to include the ever-popular "I'm Yours" (and the crowd went wild when he played the opening intro!), "Remedy", the song that first put him on the charts, and his latest hit "I Won't Give Up".

But my favorite of the night, which almost moved me to tears was "93 Million Miles" as its lyrics touched a chord in my heart as W will be off to college soon, on his first step towards independence from us.


Friday, June 22, 2012


The fact that we are empty nesters is brought to life quicker by the need to cull our belongings down to what the two of us will need in the immediate future. 

The rest of our belongings will have to be stored away somewhere until we finally find a home to call our own (if ever).

It's hard to compress 22 years of life as a family into a nuclear unit of two.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Art of Stacking

When moving into a tiny apartment, one needs to learn how to make use of all available space by learning the art of stacking.
Our household belongings arrived in HK this week & it has been a challenge trying to make everything fit into living space that is one third the size of our previous one, despite months of selling & scrapping & giving away our stuff.

One day at a time, one box at a time....

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sticker Shock

After 5 and a half years in China, it's hard for my brain to wrap around the price tags I see on groceries and foodstuff in the supermarkets, and the cost of food on the menus.


Monday, June 11, 2012


So here we are, A & I, finally, in the Fragrant Harbor (aka Hong Kong).  Z has gone back to college for summer courses, and W remains in Beijing till the end of the month so that he can spend more time with his friends before heading here and then to college.

It's a taste of the empty nest for us.  And I have to say that it is nice, this free & easy feeling, just the two of us.  We are waiting for our shipment to arrive from; I will feel more comfortable then, when we have our "stuff" surround us in this tiny apartment which we will call home for now.

Maybe it's still the honeymoon period, and my brain hasn't quite wrapped itself around the notion of both the boys being out of the house.  But I'll enjoy it for now.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Beginnings

It's hard to believe that a week from today, I will be in Hong Kong. The movers come tomorrow to pack up our worldly belongings.  Some will go into storage for the time being, the rest going into the miniscule apartment which A & I will call home for now.

I am excited about this new phase in my life.  This will be one of those crazy travel-filled summers, with the family split into three different countries for part of the time.  W prepares to go to college, Z will start on his junior year in engineering school, A & I will adapt to being empty nesters.

I am not sure how I will feel three months from now, when I have to say farewell to W when I leave him in the US to start school, while I head "home" to HK.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Impressions from China - 再见; a finale

Well, it's "zai jian" again soon, in less than 3 weeks.  It's hard to believe that it's been almost five and a half years since this entry, when we said goodbye to Singapore and embarked on our Chinese adventure.

And what an adventure it has been!  Living in China has made me feel more Chinese and feel less Chinese at the same time, if that even makes sense at all.  I've seen first hand the land of my ancestors, and by a quirk of fate, if not for an adventurous forefather, I could very well be still living in the hinterlands of Fujian!  Being here has also made me feel more alien than ever.  Despite being ethnically Chinese, culturally, I have realized that I am a mixture of South-east Asian cum American cum Chinese as far as beliefs and morals are concerned.  Definitely not PRC.

Thank you Beijing for all the friends you have helped me make and the wonderful memories which I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  I will come back and visit one day.

Goodbye China....hello Hong Kong!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Avengers Movie

It's been a long time since I've been excited over a movie.  Yesterday I watched one that I had been looking forward to for months: "The Avengers".  I must admit that the first thing which drew me to this movie was the "Hunk" factor!  Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Capt America, Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man...what more could a girl want (although Hugh Jackman as Wolverine would have been the icing on the cake!)

It was action-packed almost from beginning till end.  Joss Whedon, who also directed the Buffy series (one of my all time favorites) directed the movie, and a great job he did too.

A new addition (kind of new, I guess) to the Marvel movie world was Mark Ruffalo who played Dr Banner/The Hulk and he was the one who was surprisingly engaging.  His Dr Banner has a wry sense of humor that Edward Norton's didn't have, and his angst of being burdened with this monster within himself was very convincingly portrayed.  In one scene, and I don't know how he did it, there was even an apparent involuntary  facial tic that one sees occasionally in someone going through extreme emotional upheaval.

Chris Evan's Captain America was rather underwhelming here, compared to the Captain America movie.  I somehow did not get the vibe that he was the leader of the group, and he rather paled in comparison to RDJ's Tony Stark personality or even Thor.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie was a very Buffy-like Girl vs Bad Guys fight with the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) managing to defeat 3 (or was it 4?) villains while still tied to a chair in the middle of an interrogation!  Joss Whedon's touch could definitely be seen here...

I want to watch the movie again, because with so much happening on screen, I am sure there are bits & pieces here & there which I missed while trying to absorb everything at once.

I hope a sequel is in the making!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


....a combination of sheer busy-ness, laziness & melancholia has prevented me from updating this blog as often as I would have liked/wanted to. Regular broadcasting will resume as soon as possible. Over & out for now...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Today marks the last day of "real" school for W. He & his classmates go on study leave from tomorrow onwards, as the IB exams start next week. Two years ago, I wrote this post about what was in store for him in his last two years of high school. Tonight, I attended IB Film Premiere Night featuring the final movie projects created by him & his classmates. I was/am a proud parent, and am amazed by the creativity and artistic efforts I saw tonight. W has written songs, and made a movie and written essays ad nauseum as part of his requirement towards the IB certificate in a few courses. He will graduate in just over a month. As I said, I am a proud parent.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I wish I could skip over June July and August & jump straight in September. All this planning is giving me a headache. Whoever said that Stay-At-Home-Moms do not do real work should be in my shoes for a while. I should get the COO of the Year Award, at this rate.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Lack of Momentum

I know W will go to college this fall. I know we have to start looking at housing options, meal plans, etc etc etc very soon.

With spring cleaning & getting ready to move, it's hard for me to get the momentum up to start the logistical planning for W's transition & leaving the nest.

aliendoc needs a boost.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Profiles in Happiness: Which Physicians Enjoy Life Most?

With our impending move, people have been asking me: "So are you going to go back to work in HK?"

My face value answer has been either "I don't know"; "maybe" or "I haven't thought about it". My inner me answer is a resounding "NO".

Why? Well, I have tried imagining myself going back to work, visualizing the daily grind that I would have to endure in clinical practice. And my visceral reaction to these thoughts & imaginings have been dread, and a sickening shudder in my insides. I would not be happy. I know that with certainty. I have accepted the fact that clinical medicine was not something that I was passionate about. I was not happy in my career as a practicing physician.

So what's next for me? Something that is related to medicine but in the non-clinical areas, perhaps. Or maybe something entirely different? Who knows? I am going to take it one step at a time. Deal with this move, then deal with my "baby" leaving for college, then deal with my own future plans.

I am so glad that A has been supportive in my decisions & all I've done. I feel blessed.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


We are in the midst of Decision Time, when many colleges start releasing admissions decisions to the hundreds & thousands, if not millions, of high school seniors. It's a time of stress, disappointment, elation, relief for both students and parents and sleepless nights spent worrying about whether one will get in to one's dream college or not.

In the last few years, the number of applicants to colleges in the US (I am not aware of the situation for colleges in other countries although I think the situation is similar) has soared & competition has become increasingly stiffer for students wanting to enter the more "popular" & brand-name colleges. Previously "safety" colleges are no longer as "safe" as before. I suspect a large part of it is due to the increase in the number of applicants coming from international students (read: Chinese students).

W was recently accepted by a university in Florida. This year they received a whopping 28,000 students competing for 2,000 places in the freshman class. That means an admission rate of 7%. SEVEN PER CENT! This kind of number was only previously seen in the elite schools & Ivy Leagues.

This is getting crazier & crazier every year. Thank God we are done with this!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Spring Cleaning. That's my task next week during Spring break.

That's an understatement for sure. We have to move from a 3,000+ square feet house to a 1,300 sq ft apt. There'll be a lot of trash bags lying by our garbage bin in the coming week.

Have I said that I hate moving?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Feeling the pressure

With two impending life-changing events coming up (moving, and a young 'un leaving for college), coupled with the responsibilities of planning a couple of big events in school, one can't help but feel the pressure building up. I've never been one to feel easily flustered; and I like to think that my medical training + experience in working in the medical field where keeping a cool head in emergent & urgent situations was a plus (and a must in many situations) has helped me handle stress.

But human I am, and sometimes I succumb to the pressure and frustrations that build up. And sometimes, I have to remind myself to lower my expectations when dealing with people; otherwise I will be repeatedly disappointed by those who fail to live up to them.

Time to take a breath, aliendoc...
I think I need a beach holiday...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

...and so it begins...

The clearing out, I mean.

Getting rid of stuff.

Sorting out what we need and what we don't.

It actually feels good, this whole process of sifting through one's belongings and getting rid of things which, over the years, have become dust collectors. I have started selling away excess furniture and things we won't need in HK. It's therapeutic. You don't realize how much junk you accumulate over the years, how much "baggage" one keeps holding on to.

Here's to a new beginning...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hong Kong

Yes it's crowded. But I have to say that after living in Beijing for over 5 years, this is a breeze. At least most of the people (I emphasise - "most") have basic common courtesy, spit a lot less, obey traffic rules and speak at decent decibel levels.

And I can at least read the road signs here to find my way around fairly easily.



In the last three days, I have
a) found an apartment, our next "home"
b) applied for an ID in HK
c) opened a bank account with A

Nice to be productive.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fragrant Harbor

It's crazy how small apartments are in this small island city. Put a double bed in one of the bedrooms and you won't have room to move around in let alone fit in a side table.

The hustle & bustle of Hong Kong Island is where we will call "home" next. At least for A & me anyway. We are house-hunting (the word house is used figuratively since one needs to be a multimillionaire in order to afford renting or buying one in the stupendously expensive metropolitan, full of high-rises & skyscrapers). It pains me to know that I will need to figure out what to do with the furniture that we have especially since we will be moving from a house made for four (or more) to an apartment for two.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Counting Down

The time of transition is looming ever closer. I am viewing it with trepidation, not so much because of the change, but because of the change-ing.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

out of sync

This I have to say:

Traveling & living through 3 different time zones within a week sure messes with your diurnal rhythm.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Precious times 2

We return to Beijing tonight, after a few days spent with Z.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Precious times

W & I are spending a few days with Z here in the Mid-west. We haven't seen him since last summer. It's just a few days of just hanging out together. Meals, some shopping, just chilling. Seemingly mundane activities but spent together.

We grab these moments where we can, when we can. Such is the life of an international family...

Lasts & Firsts

Last High School concert. Last Spring Fair. Last parent-teacher conference. Last PTA meeting.

Lasts - many of these will be happening soon.

But then so will many Firsts.

I look forward to the changes ahead which are coming up soon. Bring it on!

Friday, January 20, 2012


Here I am in the Land of the Free, with unfettered Internet access.

Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder