the thursday group

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Housewife for hire

As daily lives go, mine is pretty cushy. Yes, I still cringe when I fill in "housewife" for "occupation" on airport immigration forms -- after all I do have 18 years of schooling behind me, and I'm not talking vocational or liberal arts degrees here but good old fashioned "you may hate Accounting but you will get a job after graduation" business degrees -- but there's no denying the fact that while my husband trudges off, reluctantly, to work every morning and draws a paycheck twice a month, I have no such constraints on my daily schedule and yet have marital drawing rights on his income.

This subject is rife with comedic and dramatic possibilities, but let's save such talk for another post.

Let's focus on the work-home issue. Having legitimate access to pots of money while unemployed is a desirable situation -- not just for the female gender for whom, on the surface, the situation is a throwback to a less enlightened age -- but for males as well. Grumpus, who admits that he fell in love with me for my earning potential, and says I was his early retirement plan (thankfully true love materialized when the job market dried up), envies my recent read-two-books-a-week, hit-the-gym-everyday schedule. And does the term "guy-tai" sound familiar, anyone?

There are many reasons for my continued unemployment. Sometimes I try to convince myself that I'm part of a larger sociological trend, like the kind described here, where women "return to their traditional roles as protectors of families, morals...", never mind that there are no children to raise and that the two adults in this family came together with fully formed and presumably compatible moral codes. Surely all stuff I do, like balancing the accounts, choosing investments and socking money away for (his) retirement, buying groceries, making maintenance phone calls, keeping family ties tight across the miles, keeping home homey -- ok I'll admit that I outsource the actual housekeeping -- has some social value?

Yes it does! AND apparently, economic value as well! Thanks to this fellow who, heh, outsourced his family life to India for $1500 a month, the work that goes into keeping hearth and home now has a price. Let's see if I can do everything that his India team did: answering emails - check; making calls - check; ordering groceries, buying movie tickets - check, check; paying bills, buying gifts, calling parents for weekly chat - check, check, check; making up with spouse after fight - check!

Wow! Do I spot an employment opportunity here? Ladies? My mind is exploding with possibilities of other "services" we can offer online!

Welcome Back Again Friends

I recently got back from a whirlwind trip to Manila. Its been almost a year since I was last there and this time, I went there as a "single" woman. It was the first time I went on a trip on my own since Sam was born.

I was filled with excitement and apprehention when I arrived in Manila. I was excited because I had not seen my friends in a long time. And this time, I intended to really do some catching up since I won't be distracted with Sam. Which led to my apprehention, since I didn't know whether I still fitted into my friends' lives back in Manila.

Throughout my life, I've gained and lost a ton of friendships. Each time I think this would be the keeper, something happens and they or I move on. At the back of my head, I keep thinking when the next loss will happen and how am I going to deal with it this time. Although I was not consciously thinking of this issue at the time, I'm sure its partly where my apprehention lay when I met up with my friends during this trip. As always, I noted whether we were all still on the same wave length, whether we had anything in common, whether they still found me funny, whether the conversation will flow smoothly, etc. I couldn't help being overly conscious about the whole "catching up" thing. But by the end of my trip, I realized I was worried about nothing. I actually felt relieved that things felt even better than when I had first left Manila.

I then received a text from a friend back in HK. She needed someone to talk to about some friends she was loosing hold of. After having a good chat with her since I got back, it made me realize a few things about friendships and how conditional it all seems.

It suddenly occured to me that the reason why I felt better about my friends in Manila was because we had all suddenly reached the same points in our lives. When I first left Manila to come to HK, most if not all of my friends had drifted away. They were physically there, but the connection I had had with them back in our college days were no longer there. During my wedding, it was not the fun filled evening I had dreamed it would be. Everyone had different priorities, and I certainly was not one of them. After Hong Kong, I almost fully expected to see all of them dissappear into the horizon. I was ready to take out my tissue box again and wipe away a few more tears and move on.

So when I met up with them this time, the conversations flowed and the connection seemed to have reached for that super glue. I now realize friendships are such controvertial relationships. Are we friends because we have a bond? Or are we friends because we took the time to become friends? Or are we friends because we just so happen to be there at the same time? And do we remain friends simply because we had already taken the time to be as such? Or do we remain friends because I simply enjoy your company?

At least with this trip I've figured out why I'm friends to those I've reconnected to back home. We reconnected because I've finally caught up with them. I wish there was more reason I could give, but simply knowing why I'm friends to these people has made me accept what had happened in the past and hopefully what may happen in the future. I just wish I could figure it out as well for all the other friendships I had lost.