I have had a love affair with watches for the longest time. I read an article recently about an elderly stylish lady who said that there are only 2 accessories that she dons when she steps out- a pair of earrings that brightens up her face and a good watch to see time. That resonated quite deeply with me. I went 'Oh my I am just like you ' when I read that article. That article was the inspiration for this post on my infatuation with watches. Classy elegant watches.
It all started when my husband and I started dating during our Ernst & Young days back in the late 1990s. Gosh, that sounds like another era altogether, doesn't it?! As a birthday gift, he bought me a plastic strapped Swatch watch. It was sweet of him to get me that watch, even if it was the wrong one he picked out, given that we had been there a week earlier and I was swooning over another. Guys can be so floopy at times. They just don't pay attention! We went back and changed to the one I liked. So unromantic? So fussy? But, I'd rather wear a watch I like. Wouldn't you? This was at City Hall Swatch watch outlet which was next to The Body Shop at that time when we still had Accessorize in Singapore. Sadly, now we don't. I got my Accessorize fix during my visit to Engand recently. I wore that watch for a long time, I still do even when the strap tore and I had to change to a white strap (See picture below). That fact that it still works after 20 years gives a resounding testimony to the quality of Swatch watches doesn't it? It was my husband's first gift to me. I am quite a sentimental romantic person and I have a lot of attachments to stuff, like my first Nokia handphone I have in my cupboard which looks like a walkie talkie with the antenna sticking out. The pregnancy tests I took to confirm my pregnancies [When they saw them recently, my teen girls went 'Ew, Mom you peed on them!" :) ]. Its not unusual or abnormal to be attached to things simply because they bring back memories of the times you had when you first got them or some other memories surrounding that item of value. Just simple nostalgia.
Then, my sister June got me another Swatch watch (what is with me and Swatch watches?) in the early 200Os when my girls were still toddlers. She was wearing this matte gold designed plastic strapped with matte gold designs on the face of the watch itself too. Pretty and understated even though it was matte gold. I complimented it a lot and my sister got my hint and got it for my birthday!(Thank you, di). We would meet weekly at Bayshore Park where she was living because my girls started swimming lessons at that time in the pool there. Come to think of it, that's where I met my artist friend, Sherin. My mom was also living in Bayshore Park at that time and I still remember she walking down that long winding path under swaying huge shady Angsana trees to the pool to come meet us. See, how memories are coming back? Hmmm...I am not sure if I still have that watch though...let me dig around.
Then, while living in Pasir Ris, I fell in love with the rectangle shape of the face of watches and got for myself an inlaid mother of pearl face on a stainless steel metal Guess brand watch. Not very expensive probably only around $200 plus. That watch brings memories of us living in Pasir Ris and hanging out with my girls and my then helper Gloria at McDonald's next to that watch shop. I was still wearing that till last month.
After I returned from America in 2015, I got a pair of watches in Takashimaya shopping centre along Orchard Rd. I needed a gold watch to match my gold accessories or with my Indian sarees. I visit my hairdresser Chezvous at the 5th floor of Takashimaya every few months and inevitably I would end up shopping at the shopping centre on the lower floors below. I have been going to Riz at Chezvous for the longest time since my Ernst & Young days. In between, I frequented NK Hairworks at Parkway Parade but with my hairdresser Winnie aggressively shoving package after package at my face (1 package for haircut, another for hair colour, another for straightening my fringe etc), I grew increasingly reluctant to see her. So, I went back to Chezvous where the hairdressers (Beyonce is my current hairdresser) are polite, patient and no packages have been touted there. Now, I bring along my girls there too. Anyway, these watches by Anne Klein were reasonably priced and sat rather nicely on my thin wrist (See picture below). Not branded watches but they looked alright.
Then, I got a Skagen watch. Skagen watches are super understated but very classy. Not sure how I got that steel mesh strapped watch with white face but again it brings back memories of a birthday lunch I had with my Temasek Primary friends at Thai Express in Parkway Parade. I had requested no birthday gifts please but to contribute whatever amount you can to donate to SPCA - the society against animal creulty. I actually collected over $200 dollars that day. Thank you my dearest friends for your small act of animal kindness. Then during the lunch, a friend S commented that my Skagen watch looked great on me. I thanked her and didn't think twice about her comment but surprisingly whenever I wear that watch now, I still remember that lunch and her comment. I can imagine what's going on in your head - my goodness, Nilo. You are so sentimental to the core!!
My most recent purchase just this year 2017 for our 17th Anniversary, is a simply beautiful Longines watch. I had been eyeing a particular model for quite some time, even before leaving for America in 2014. I remember checking out the Longines watch shop at Changi Airport Terminal 3 just before our departure to America on 25th Feb 2014. But somehow, it didn't get to be worn on my wrist just yet. I forgot about it actually with all that packing and unpacking in Bluebell, Pennsylvania and returning back to Singapore in mid 2015. I had forgotten about it but apparently the universe had remembered and this year my desire materialized. I admit that its my most expensive watch at over $1 K and my only branded watch now. The simple style of Roman numerals on a rectangular silver steel face is worth splurging on. It sits elegantly without screaming for attention. I wore this lovely watch all over London and Paris and just last night at my husband's company dinner. I don't wear my Longines watch often because it is just too precious.
There you have my story of my love affair with watches. I am currently eyeing a black leather strapped round faced Longines watch as well. My love affair continues....
Or maybe the title of this post should have read why do I try so hard to be someone I am not? Just 4 months ago I was so excited and on top of the world. I had been successfully admitted into the docent training program in the National Museum of Singapore. Having tried last year and been disappointingly turned down, this was a cause for celebration for me. Of course I didn't go around celebrating. It was a rare moment of quiet joy. I thought to myeslf - finally things are taking off in my life. There was some direction. I have had enough of being a stay at home mom/home maker and the never ending chores. I got a live in helper (or a maid we call here in Singapore) to help me with my housework, since I was going to be busy in my new life. Or so I thought.
When I started the training on Sep 14th, I couldn't have been more content. All the new friends from so many different countries of varying ages. The training twice weekly in the mornings where we would listen to lectures from historians and go on field trips to so many interesting historical places in Singapore which I would have never visited or turned back to look if it not had been for my docent training. The hours of research and the readings it involved was - how do I put this simply - it was like giving food to a very hungry man. I agree it is a lame metaphor. But I was hungry for knowledge, hungry to be thought of as not only a housewife or a stay at home mom. I was hungry for that validation that I am more than what you see. By whom? Well, a lot of people including my own family but let's not go there.
And when I gave everthing I had into my research, my papers turned out exceedingly well. All the years of knowing inside that I am capable of so much more was channeled into my research. My group leader Linka - a lovely Dutch lady - vouched that I'm one of her best students and I'll do well as a docent! My fellow group members praised my delivery of my practice talks and added that I'm so natural. With all that compliments in my head, my confidence grew. I started planting thoughts of working in museums. Those thoughts grew and became bigger. Why not then do a masters degree in art and history. That should boost my chances of getting a job?
I was so naive. So innocent. Living in my own dream world. I did realise soon enough that all these things are what I want others to think of me. 'Wow, Nilo is doing her masters' Wow, Nilo is working in a museum, after all these years as a housewife!' Its not what I wanted to do on my own for myself. Why was I pretending to be someone I wasn't? I'm not cut out to working in a 9 to 5 job again where the travelling and the office politics will ruin the whole job exeperience. Plus who would employ a 45 year old who has been unemployed for the last 17 years? If I'm not going back into the workforce, why the need for a masters degree? Why would I waste my hubsnd's 27K even if I had wanted to learn for the sake of gaining knowlwdge? Why do I want others to validate me? Why is there this constant internal frustration because of the comparison to friends and family who are successful in their lives?
As the year rolls around to an end and when I look around I see people merry-making over meals and having special gatherings to mark special occasions and all the commercialism that comes with it- the gift giving, the shopping, the mingling, the drinking... I don't know. I maybe wrong I feel its all just a farce. Its just not who all of you are. It is just a mask all of you are wearing and you are all dead inside. We all put up an act and pretend to be that fun lively but still an intelligent person to please others so that others will like us. Aren’t we all guilty of that? And why is drinking a glass of wine at a social gathering so in and when you don’t why do people judge you and make you feel like an alien? When did that happen? Why does being invited to a party or a gathering an indication of how well liked you are?
Friends are only present in your life at that period in your life where you have a certain connection with like for example when you are doing a particular self improvement course and they are your coursemates. After the course ends and when you don’t have a common thread that connects you, you slowly lose touch and they vanish from your life after that. Out of sight out of mind. Rarely, they become close friends. Just like my new docent friends. They are a bunch of fun but serious when it comes to training ladies. I was very excited when I first met them. I started harbouring dreams and hopes of finding a lifelong close friend/s. Told you I was naive. I do realise now that I won't see them weekly after March next year when my training ends. I have learnt that I shouldn't place too much hope on most casual friendships..they just don't last a lifetime. If you have found that certain friend or a group of girl friends who you do everything with, you are blessed. Please hold on to that friendship. Don’t ever let go.
So recently, like hot stones, I dropped everything - all these silly ambitions that have sprung up in the last 4 months. A wiser mature person I have become and I’m glad for it. I'm not going to pretend to be someone I am not. I do not have to prove anything to anyone. If you think I'm just a boring old housewife, so be it. You don't know me. I am contented with my housework and looking after the needs of my family, no matter how routine it can get (I have sent off my helper when I realised I don't really need her afterall). This house work - it keeps me grounded. No fancy dreams to float around in. With innocent hopes of finding that one true friend out of the window, I have spun my own little cacoon around myself. Who said you can’t be happy in your own company? The words of the song 'Me, Myself and I' by Bebe Rexha comes to my mind,
Oh, its just me, myself and I
Solo ride until I die
Cause, I got me for life
Oh, I don't need a hand to hold
Even when the night is cold
I got that fire in my soul
Yeah, I do!!
My home is
usually in a mess and has dust settled on almost everything. But I believe laughter and love will win the day. In 20 years, my girls won't remember how messy the house was but will remember the time we spent together and the love they felt...