Thursday, November 05, 2015

The slum master's achievement

I was furiously typing on my desktop when my wife pops in. Actually, her head pops in first with a jubilant smile on her face. She's beckoning me to follow her to the living room, specifically the dining table where the 'slum' is situated. The slum is what I called the part of the home where I have no jurisdiction and you have no order. Work stuff lay at odd angles to each other, with files and books stacked like a cheap and quick imitation of the Mayan pyramid. There you can hear the silent screams of misplaced nail clippers and pens and all the other knick knacks that are dying to go back to the little drawers where they belong.

That's a favela

I follow her out. When the slum master beckons, you follow.

I was lead to a computer screen with a spreadsheet program being worked on, presumably by the slum master. The computer screen is an odd thing that rises out of the slums, like how a single bright neon billboard that advertises the best of what capitalism offers will look like in the hill favela in Brazil. Like a moth drawn to a flame, I stared at the screen and was curious what she is doing on an excel spreadsheet. The slum master working on an excel spreadsheet is like putting nutella on rice. Or steamed oranges. Two ordinary things combined in a weird and unconventional manner.

She beamed brightly while pointing out the rows and columns of the spreadsheet. She's showing me the expenses she had for the day, for the past few days this week. She proudly exclaimed that she had not been spending a lot of money this day, except for the lunch that she had. Rows of itemized spending is keyed in neatly, with the right end of the row accompanied by the dollar equivalent of the spending. Daily recording of expenses, hmm...

I gave her the thumbs up. If I am a tree of happiness, a few fruits ripened that very moment. If my life is a movie, this is where the camera pans in slowly in a anticlockwise manner, with me in the center rising vertically upwards, until the camera zooms in on my face. As the heroic music plays on, the beginnings of a smile dawns on my face.

And yet no camera can capture the beams of pride that emanates out of me.


Anonymous said...

Hope you wife does not read your blog post and get offended with the title for her (unless she self-proclaimed in first place).
I am also a slum master and am lucky to be living in the computer age where there is such a thing called "search" - so even if I don't organise my files properly into folders, I can still find the things I want.
If I was living in the age where need to do proper manual filing, I think I will never find a job or get fired everytime after a short while of working.

la papillion said...


Well, I won't hide it from her, but I won't show it to her either Haha :) looks like you do practice organised chaos ;)

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


Delightful writing!

I enjoyed reading it :)

la papillion said...


Oh I had a fun time writing it as well :) I wrote it all out within 20 minutes, just enough time before I went to work this morning. And I changed my mind; I asked my wife to read it. She just smiles, protest in mock anger, checked out the comments section and skips off to work.

Sillyinvestor said...


Luckily for me. we are slum master and mistress.

I still am not able to connect to her on investment matters, but slowly connecting in terms of "philosophy" or the "bo liao" part.

SO while I feel no pride like you, I do feel a gentle warmth pleasantness

la papillion said...

Hi SI,

Haha, all slum masters ;)

I don't think I try to change her ways lah. Even if she's the same old self, I'll be happy too. It's just a pleasant surprise that I saw her recording expenses on her own. Let's see how long it'll last haha

I think each couple do their part is good enough. Maybe some of the other stuff that your wife do that you're not interested too :) But overall, still an effective team!

Anonymous said...


Reading your article, my English improved immediately. Haha. I do spot a possible typo, possible only but not important :P

If It is me, I will seek my wife permission to clear up the slum. It will revert after I cleared up, and i cleared up again. This repeat until it will never happen again. haha.

Tracking expenses are all in my brain nowadays. Maybe an excuse not to do manual tracking anymore but I am confident my money stretched as long as the half the great wall of China...Maybe Singapore. haha...

la papillion said...

Hi FD,

Thanks for your complement, and thanks for not bruising my ego, haha

I wouldn't do what you do. Me and my wife had a different sort of dynamics from yours :) She works very well in organised chaos (her words) while I work best in chaotic order, haha! I much prefer personal responsibility and initiative and will never do it for her, unless she requests for my help.

This used to be a point of contention when we first stayed together. But it's no longer so, since we've learnt how to compromise. Now, it's just a sign that I've reached home. She always said that I keep complaining about her mess, but one day if she's gone and the house is tidy and neat, I'll miss her mess.

Totally true :)

darren said...


I showed this post to Mrs RetailTrader and she subsequently did some "urban decluttering" for the slum areas which were under her jurisdiction :))

la papillion said...

Hi RT,

Hahaha, I'm glad it turned out well for you...hope she don't blame me for the extra work she had to do!

Rolf Suey said...

Hi LP,

The neatness within the slumps is what a non slump master sometimes cannot see.

I attended a psychological workshop and apparently I am the direct opposite of slump master.

The upside of slump master is u can send them as front trooper to a "super messy" place, and they will be able to reduce the mess. Then in the next phase the non slump master can come in to finalize the mess clearing.

Therefore I learn that it's the "strengths" within the "weakness" that matters if we are able to see through it!

Just want to share. By the way, ur command of English is exceptional as always!

la papillion said...

Hi Rolf,

I agree with you and think what you said makes a lot of sense. It's interesting that everyone is looking at the mess that the slum master is making. Perhaps it's the way I'm framing the situation (so that all of you will empathize with her, LOL). You'll notice that in my post, I'm proud of the fact that she is tracking her expenses. To me that's a good step in the right direction towards handling her personal finances. And this is something she did out of her inner motivation.

The slum is just part of the natural geography of our home now, haha! If I come home and see a neat landscape, I'll be wondering if I stepped into the wrong home or not LOL

PS thanks for your compliment!