The Case for Solo Travel

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One year ago, if anyone asked me, “Hey, why don’t you do university overseas?” I used my standard answer on them.

No lah, why travel overseas? Singapore is good enough. My family is all here, 我始终放不下 (I can’t let go). And it’s so expensive to travel overseas! If you tell me go for 3-6 months, maybe, but 1 year and above, no way! I’ll start asking to come home after 1 week!

It honestly never occured to me that I’d be eating my words one day, haha! In the past six months, I’ve been to Florence, Milan, Paris, and now Seoul.

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103 | Grazie di Cuore, Italia

It’s coming close to 2.30AM and I can’t sleep, but I wouldn’t call it jetlag, rather, the reinforcement of an already screwed up sleep schedule during the Italy trip. I slept at about 4AM in Singapore prior to the trip and it was about 10PM Italian time – so I followed a most comfortable sleep-wake cycle there. Unfortunately not very conducive for social life back here in SG, but until I can rectify that, am making the best of it by coming by here!

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Firenze is located in central Florence and is quite honestly a great place to be. When I went there the weather averaged 16-18 deg. celsius, a little cold for me but otherwise perfect, with sunny, clear skies. I heard the summer is hell though, and wouldn’t dream of heading there in that kind of heat (39 deg.)

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A close friend was telling me how the charm of Florence was not the city itself but its vicinity and after this trip I can’t help but concur. If the nearby places like Regello, Barberino are so tranquil, I would love to see Chianti, which was recommended. Almost guaranteed to have breathtaking scenery and brilliant weather.

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Don’t ask me how, but landed in Prato Centrale somehow – godforsaken place, totally not touristy, no cabs no nothing. Quiet suburb, a welcome break from the city but not ideal for staying long. Not even a single restaurant open, probably good for just looking at how people live in suburban Italy.

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Never fully understood the attraction of sunset/sunrise, but I felt this was a mandatory travel shot, haha.

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Was immensely blessed to have been able to go for nightly walks/H2H time in Italy. Much of the time my schedule in Singapore doesn’t allow for this – every meal and spare time is planned, and I miss spontaneously spending time with my inner circle. My estate is boring, though I do enjoy nightly drives. Italy was brilliant for walking at night. Quiet streets, awe-inspiring architecture and food available at night just makes for very conducive, lucid rumination. In a sense this was healing for me, with just the right company and right setting to be able to recuperate. This made the entire trip more than worth it. Visited Ponte Vecchio and the Baptistry of St. John at night and they were stunning. Won’t lie, it’s a bit dangerous especially when I headed out alone, but for the healing I got, very worth it.

All in all, Italy is pretty and a place I would want to revisit. Maybe not Milan, but definitely will head back to Florence. Needs extra care when travelling alone but I can deal with that.

Five days worth of healing felt like soothing salve on a wound that had been left to fester for too long. For the longest time since the term started I feel like I’ve been walking on a tightrope, my commitments and obligations stretching me in different directions. I would overpromise and then come to default on my promises, which stresses me out a great deal. I think the question right now would be how to balance out career and personal growth, but academics are getting in the way by taking up so much of my time. Hopefully with the pitiful 2 modules this semester I have a little more time to work on my other ventures (ie. writing, theatre) and not be one foot in, one foot out of everything.

Career will require a good amount more devotion these coming few months as I pick up the ropes. There’s a very pressing need for me to fill the gaps in my skill set, which are not entirely pleasant, and that has me a bit worried. For every unpleasant thing I force myself to go through, I take extra time to recuperate and it just doesn’t add up. Guess as always, it’s a balancing game. At this point in time I can confidently say career comes first, excluding my family and inner circle. Writing has been subordinated for the time being and I flat-out refuse to be ashamed about it. As I said, balancing game, finite resources, make the best of it. Shouldn’t, and don’t want to penalize myself even more emotionally for making choices that look wiser in long-term. Other than finite resources there are also some tough choices to be made, involving my area of specialty given that I won’t be going to university, and how I can buff myself in that area, leveraging on my strengths. I have been procrastinating on this because I haven’t been particularly pulled toward anything, which is unusual – so I think this might be one of those decisions that just take time to make. So be it. I would rather take more time with this than have to backtrack (note: not reiterate, backtrack) somewhere down the road.

I am very lucky in that I have a massively supportive inner circle and family. Though they begrudge the spontaneity and my overly macro modus operandi, they do their best to provide scaffolding or support, whichever is more critical. I am even more blessed in that they are all people who actively learn and share – though we stagnate sometimes most of the times we are progressing, and I think that’s important for growth as a unit. I really appreciate and cherish them, which would justify why I am constantly ready to drop all my shit for them at any given time of the day. They are my biggest priority for now – for some, it’s relationship building, and for others it’s collaboration. Either way the mutual understanding and differences we share make me extra grateful to have found these incredible people, and hopefully I will be able to give them even more before I turn 20 next year.

I have been neglecting my physical/mental health to an extraordinarily large extent this year – find it hard to even recall the number of MCs and medications I’ve taken. Think it’s high time I placed more importance on this since I’ve never truly honoured it as a priority.

Wrapping up the year is never easy, especially not finding dozens of loose threads that you need to fix in the last few months. Just one last final push before the new year comes along. This Italy trip was timely – stay in a place for too long and you stagnate in mindset and perception, and that was what had happened to me. In retrospect it was a humbling learning experience, and I came back refreshed and with a slightly clearer idea of what I need to execute to make this year count. Now I just need to get down to it – that’s an encouragement in itself. 🙂

98 | Effort

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There must come a point in time when you are tried to the full extent of your resources and you realize you still have to give more.

For a good number of my ventures thus far, there were no reasons to say that I gave it my all. I think, to some extent, I even shunned that idea – never stretching myself to the limit, never approaching that gentle line of pouring all I had into any one venture. Doing so would simply give failure much more bearing, and I saw no sense in having that occur.

And now I find myself asking these questions to which there are no easy answers: dare I burn my bridges? Can I recuperate if I lose? Will I ever gain the same stead again?

But yet there is a nagging voice in me that reminds me that if I never brace myself, never prepare myself for this one full exertion, to be tried to my limits and stretched to oblivion, I may never have the opportunity to be anything more than mediocre.

So I’ll do just that. Even if I am tiring faster than I expected to, even if I may be stretched taut and even snap – let’s give it a shot. I’ll never know if I don’t.

They say youth is a medicine for even the most grave of injuries sustained. I sure hope it is. It is all I will have after banking the rest of my resources on this one endeavour.

97 | Mourning Colours

Life has been a whirlwind since 1 Jan 2015 rolled around.

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On 31st Dec 2014, while Cowfu and Fang jie were at my place celebrating New Year, my Great-grandma, whom I call Laoma, was taken to Alexandra Hospital and hospitalized for fever. She was 104 at that time, just a few hours before 105, and at that age, even the smallest malady should be given attention. A fever is out of the ordinary, and she was brought promptly and warded. I didn’t think much of it.

Over the next few days, her fever raged. I didn’t visit her the first few days, thinking it was just a run-of-the-mill flu and fever, made dangerous only by her age. As the days went by, I got worried. She was not coming back. Her fever was getting worse.

I was in class on 5 January 2015, the first day of the school term, when Dad’s message reached me. Laoma condition was deteriorating, and she was still having fever. Doctor had decided not to conduct any more blood tests as it was of no help and it brings pain and bruises, especially when her skin was already so thin. She was also taken off some of her regular medication as these were of no use any more. We were told to prepare for the worst.

I panicked. I went down right after school that day, at 6.30PM – 7PM. I couldn’t afford to lose focus on either school or family. Plus, I had work. I was stretched thin. I tried my best to be on task for the rest of the school day, finished up my lessons, and flew down to Alexandra to be with her. I held her hand for a good three hours that day, watching her sleep, and when she was awake, she gripped my hand tightly, even though I believe she cannot see nor hear me any more.

I went home encouraged by a dip in her temperature that night. I was tired beyond words.

On 6 Jan, I went down again, after I’d completed half my day in school. The update on her condition was that Laoma was terminally ill, and nothing more could be done for her. She had 2-3 weeks left, and had already lost all sense of immunity and hunger. The doctor pre-empted us that she would be sleeping more and more as time progressed. Now the question was whether she would be cared for better at home or in the hospital. We voted hospital and so she stayed.

7 January morning, I was in school when the news came. Laoma was on an oxygen mask as she had trouble breathing. The doctor even called to inform that Laoma wasn’t doing well because her oxygen was low, heartbeat was fast, and blood pressure was dipping. I didn’t even think twice – I hightailed it there, commitments be damned.

When I got there, she was breathing hard. She struggled to draw breath and it was heartbreaking to see. She no longer smiled. She was no longer aware of who we were and what was going on. She was on the brink, and neither my mother, maid nor I could bear to leave her yet. I stayed by her side very long that day, holding her hand, wishing she would grip my hand tightly back. She did, still, but most of the time all she could do was try to catch her breath.

I left the hospital intending to go for an important meeting in school. I boarded the bus, but I couldn’t do it. I walked all the way back to Alexandra, crying the whole way.

I went back and shed buckets of tears at her side. I couldn’t help it. I was losing her and there was nothing I could do about it. I held her hands for a good 2-3 hours that night before being chased home on account of school the next day. As it turns out, I wouldn’t have to attend.

Mum was supposed to stay at her side till daybreak, when she would go to work. She was also chased home slightly past 2AM, encouraged by a temporary improvement in Laoma’s condition. In retrospect, they always say the deceased will have a sudden burst of energy and seem to “recover” a few hours before death. That is almost a sure sign of the inevitable. Dad picked Mum up and drove home. I was asleep by the time they reached home, exhausted by the running around and things I’d juggled for the past week.

Barely 10 minutes later, she was gone.

The news was delivered to me when I was woken by Mum in the morning, who’d obviously been crying. I took it in my stride, as I am prone to do. I simply shelved the emotion and went straight into preparing for the funeral.

All the dams were broken when she was brought into the funeral.

I’d never known her thoroughly or had a good conversation with her. Nor could I have, given her condition in the past 10 years. Instead, she was a constant presence in my house, and I came back to someone whom I knew would be there, rain or shine, smiling at me. As such, her reputation preceded her. I heard about her phenomenal strength and poise as a woman and matriarch of the house. I heard little anecdotes about her life, her discipline, and her habits. I was heartbroken in the end when she left. When I first saw her in the casket, she was more serene than I’d ever seen her, with a slight frown etched on her forehead, a warning that she had a volatile temper, yet she always has a compassionate, nurturing smile in my memory.

By the time I’d grown up enough to appreciate my grandparents, she was already unable to see, hear or speak. She had been afflicted with dementia, late onset but deteriorated quickly. She was prone to flying into fits of rage, kicking doors and searching the entire house just to look for me (the 3 year old me). She would fight with my maid in jest, my maid loving her just as her own grandmother. As for me, she would try to scratch my face when I came near or annoyed her. She would pull my nose, grip my hands hard, and chuckle at me. She used to be amused by children’s toys in her last days. She loved chocolate and lived an austere life. She had many grandchildren, up to five generations, but when she forgot everyone else she remembered my mother and I. Her love for me loomed larger than life.

Following the funeral, without having any time to recover from the grief, I was unceremoniously hurled into the project phase of polytechnic life. They say Year 2, Semester 2 is the hardest semester of your entire polytechnic life, and I’d be a fool to disagree. I’d never been so inundated with work. I slogged for 6 more weeks, never even had breathing time, let alone time to mourn. Right after projects came exams. And once I’d completed that, there was no break either. I was to begin my 1 month internship with 2359 Media, and I began the day I completed my exams.

Talk about crazy.

April 17 will mark the first 100 days since Laoma has gone. She was a staunch Buddhist, and her funeral drew me closer to Buddhism. There were prayers for her every week, and that helped me to get over the crushing loss slightly better. Part of the ritual was to wear plain clothing for 100 days as a mark of remembrance and respect. I’ve not touched my red clothing for close to 3 months, yet I find it makes the loss easier as well. There’s something about doing, even if it may only be for the sake of the living that makes the loss easier to cope with.

Even now, I still see shadows of her. I’ve always had an old folk in my house, my beloved maternal grandfather before her, and the house feels cold and chilly with just my mum, dad and I. I miss having old folks around, having them nag and hearing their laughter. I miss annoying them, prancing around being every bit the irritating, chirpy grandchild. The silence can sometimes be hard to bear. It’s not uncommon for me to hear the ringing of the bells that used to be on her wheelchair, or to hear her chuckle. I sometimes still think I see the shadow of her wheelchair as she slowly moves around the house. I still think I hear her call for her maid sometimes. It will take a long while before I can fully come to terms to the loss.

Then, news of Mr Lee’s illness came.

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I never expected it. For such a formidable man, for him to succumb to illness seems almost audacious to imagine. Yet he is human. As I kept close to the news and saw how it got progressively worse, I knew it was coming. Yet on the morning of March 23, when my mother again delivered the news, I was broken yet again.

I dressed in black that day, and went somberly to work.

Over the past week of mourning, many anecdotes, speeches and videos of him have emerged. All of these, I think, bring the formidable man down to earth and lay him to rest.

There is not much I can say about him that has not already been said. I do not revere him as much for the power or success of his governance than I revere him for his character. He often had the guts to face up to hard truths, both to himself and to others. He delivered what he said he would. He was obsessed with Singapore and his family. He had an internal strength that many were attracted to. He spoke with aplomb, and had great oratorical prowess. He held firm to his convictions yet was never too subscribed to a particular idea or school of thought to be stuck there, stubborn. He managed to inspire confidence and hope in a people that had nothing to be confident or hope for. He managed to show people where he would bring them – a place that sometimes stretched beyond people’s greatest imaginations at that time. A metropolis when we were a mudflat? I’m sure he had his fair share of skeptics.

I think there is nothing more befitting I can offer him as a tribute other than my very first published poem, and definitely, my commitment to be a part of loving Singapore, and making sure it is governed by his core tenets of honest government, ownership of the country and constant progress.

He has inspired me in more ways than just politics, and he is a giant, someone to model after. All I can do now is stand a little taller on the shoulders of LKY and the Old Guards, and stretch to make our foundations stronger and aspirations bolder.

So as I joined the eight hour queue, as I thumbed through all the posts on Facebook and joined the outpouring of grief, as I paid my last respects to him by bowing at the head of the coffin, I was shown again the noble but sometimes elusive Singapore spirit. Where else will you see Singaporeans queue in stuffy conditions, stuck for hours, without so much as a single words of complaint or making a scene as we are oft prone to do? We had a common cause again, and I believe he would have been more than glad to see this.

I couldn’t help noticing some similarities in the way they passed. Both passed in the wee hours of the morning, when others were asleep. They say those who pass on before breakfast leave all the meals of the day to their descendants. They do really leave all the good for us. On the day of cremation, it poured for both of them. They say the heavier it rains, the more worries the deceased carries. Although I want them to go without worry, I know it is nigh impossible. It’s just a statement of their deep concern for those they love.

Goodbye, Laoma and Mr Lee. I have been in mourning colours for the good part of the year. I hope you both are in Heaven, enjoying the company of your soulmates and good health. I hope you both are watching over all that goes on here with a broad smile, boasting to your fellow inhabitants, “This is my family.” We will take care of ourselves the way you took care of us, and no less. It will take more than a while for me to grieve and heal from both of your passing, though.

My losses have been greater than I can say this year.

96 | Healing

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Briny sea breeze. Chilly winds whipping up your hair. Gentle sound of waves lapping.

More often than not, healing has, for me, come from ocean views and warm sunlight. Truly, I am a sun, sand, sea kind of girl.

Fourth cruise with Royal Caribbean on Mariner of the Seas this Christmas. I think it’s going to take some adjusting to get used to normal life. Especially after you’ve been allowed to sleep until you wake up naturally, wake up to a sumptuous breakfast, settling back in bed for an afternoon siesta, waking up to exercise while enjoying the endless deep blue, then adjourning for a gourmet dinner. This is my idea of a holiday, where I can just kick my legs up and relax. The crowd was madness, though, and I wish we’d gone at off-peak. I shall settle for a smaller ship like one from Royal Caribbean’s Vision fleet – Legends, maybe, since it’s been refurnished – and just enjoy some much needed solitary time.

It’s been a great respite from the madding crowd, nonetheless.

95 | Anthologies

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At the time of posting there shall be exactly 10 days to the launch of both of these anthologies – the SingPoWriMo anthology and A Luxury We Cannot Afford.

Two of my writings will be in these books, therefore, another tick off my bucket list.

To the SingPoWriMo anthology I contributed the poem burgeoning. SingPoWriMo was a – should I say movement? – in the SingLit scene in April, where a grand total of 400 writers wrote a poem every day of the month, guided by prompts from Joshua Ip, Alvin Pang and Pooja Nansi. First off, I never even knew there were this many writers in SG! Or maybe a lot of them were also first-time writers like me, eager to step into the budding Lit scene in Singapore. Anyway, an anthology was born from this, with all manner of poetry forms like liwulis and haikus etc. along with a bunch of great poetry from poets known and unknown.

For A Luxury We Cannot Afford, I spotted the open call and just couldn’t resist. The title comes from a quote by a famous statesman in Singapore (one I have ardent admiration for) and was about how poetry was a luxury we couldn’t afford. Well, maybe back then. Now we have a bustling scene, and a rising cacophony (albeit a harmonious one) of voices. The poem I wrote for this, Machiavelli, is titled after one of the most important principles I was introduced to in his book. This anthology contains poems of deep-seated reverence (like mine) and also a good dose of blame/loathing, so whichever viewpoint you stand on with regards to this particular statesman, you’ll probably find a poem you can identify with.

All in all, it’s been a wonderful journey. I never thought I’d have my first works published before I even complete my 18th year, but it’s a good start. As I grow and learn, my poetry locks each mindset in a frame of words so that my growth is archived. Wrong steps, bad decisions, maybe even misguided sentiments, but I still learn and grow. Come and witness these two anthologies launching at The Arts House, 23 November, 4:00 PM! My ambition (and passion) have doubled in size and now I aim to have a book of my own before I turn 21! So.. more to come! Hint hint! 🙂

76 | Generations

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travel essentials: rayban cockpit sunglasses – sincere optics | clinique chubby stick in 04 mega melon – sephora | shiseido multi-defense uv – robinsons | crabtree and evelyn avocado hand cream – crabtree & evelyn | travalo – sasa w/ versace yellow diamond – sephora | ipod touch gen 5

This trip to Kuantan was (as always) full of the best food in town, bonding time with the children and family stories that I lap up as fast as they come. On a sidenote, I also discovered that my ability to sleep everywhere was not to be slighted – I slept on speeding cars, rattan chairs, and the infamous cement floor of the family home that basically every person in the family has slept on as a child. It’s always nice to see the century-old family home, and see the family portraits, go around Kuantan and hear about the property my great-granddaddy owned, etc. Nothing beats family time.

PS: It’s definitely true when they say that pigs are very family-oriented people.

73 | Buoy

It’s been a very long while, hasn’t it?

I’m usually quite punctual with my posts, at least once a week or in the busiest of periods, once a month. But I’ve not been here for close to 1.5 months! Mainly because I’m trying to find new direction, both for the blog and for my life. I’m actually trawling through the photo roll for the past month and a half right now and I can assure you that you didn’t miss much, really.

The following four pictures are going to be a quick recap of the past 1.5 months so.. keep up!

IMG_4184140214 Operation Valentines’ with Chapter + 02’s Valentine’s Day celebration

IMG_4295140220 Concluding the last of our presentations for Year 1 w/ ITB group

IMG_4556140307 Lunch before ASEAN Connect w/ Cynthia

IMG_4563140307 Dinner at 18Chefs w/ Cynthia, Russ & Weiyong

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That was a quick run through, but basically, I’ve completed Year 1!

If you ask me to summarize what it’s been like these 6 weeks in a word, it would, without doubt, be burdensome.

Very honestly, I have not been happy all this while. Ever since the Rebecca Minkoff card case incident it’s almost like I’ve been jinxed. I know I’ve always been happy doing juggling 101 things at a go but I think I’ve reached a point where I finally realize: I may be busy, not productive. What then is the point? I’m basically tiring myself out with things that mean a lot to me but I do not truly work for. Because of bad time management and perhaps even bad workload management, I’m going through the motions but not truly achieving anything. This left me sad, disoriented and increasingly fed up with myself. It’s a vicious cycle, you can see. I was truly beginning to lose steam all the way towards exams, like an airplane falling out of the sky (if I ever did cruise that high) and I felt dejected. When the holidays came, I basically lapsed into a slump. For once I felt really alone and vulnerable but at the same time it was exhilarating to not have to account to anyone for once.

My current status is still as per stated above ie. dejected, but there are definitely some things that have changed about me. I have become increasingly certain about specific things, such as the people who truly mean the world to me, people like my family, Jean, Liansheng, Buddy, etc. I guess it’s the toughest times that show you who will hang around you still.

Secondly, I’ve still been lurking around in the literary scene. Or should I say, lurking as an audience of the literary/arts scene. I’ve still been watching shows (as you’ll notice the Been There Done That page is still constantly being updated) and so far I’ve covered two very wonderful plays, a Yue opera piece called the Good Person of Szechwan, and coincidentally my translation lecturer sat beside me and explained a lot of what I didn’t know to me. Of course, I came out grinning like a bobcat, and when my parents come to pick me they have to endure an endless tirade of how marvellous the show was. This then repeated itself when I went to watch a Cantonese opera piece titled The Mad Phoenix. Clearly I have inherited Mummy’s penchant for opera shows! On the writing end, I really haven’t been writing as much, because I’m busy with life, but there have been moments when I felt like I would have an actual unsavoury physical reactions to words not being put on a page (like vomiting) so I had to pen them down.

Lastly, the one thing that kept me sane through this madness: sodagreen.
You may or may not have heard of this Chinese folk/rock/pop/indie band called 蘇打绿 Sodagreen but when I really felt like I was going to have a mental breakdown, it was their songs that sustained me through the day. It came to a point where I was just desperately looking forward to breaks just to have their music in my ears. Their songs are all either curative or invigorating in nature, with a range of toned-down songs like 独处的时候 When I’m Alone that heals you when you’re at your weakest (and ends with a message to look forward) to upbeat ones like 小宇宙 Little Universe which invigorates the self and encourages being considerate for society. For the first time I found myself thinking, Ah, this is what music should sound like. It doesn’t hurt that Sodagreen is very down-to-earth and lead singer QingFeng is especially witty and charming. I mean, this is the kind of character I could fall for. Their songs are not gender-specific, which is a feat in itself, and add that to the powerful lyrics (all self-written and self-composed) that touch on Chinese history, use a range of euphuistic Chinese phrases and words (some of which I didn’t even recognize, shame on me), are spot-on when it comes to hitting you in the heart with raw emotion and you have got, arguably, the most prolific band in Chinese history.

I guess from here, the rest of the holidays will be spent sorting my room (and my life) out, but this definitely won’t be the last post for March. I’ll be back, I’m not sure with what material though, possibly with beauty reviews – I’ve been deliberating for so long already – or even just non-beauty favourites.. I’m not sure yet! We’ll see.

Ending off with a list of dramas I’m chasing: Emergency Couple, Three Days & Ugly Alert! They (sort-of) fill in the gaps between theatre shows and whet my appetite for the big stage. 😉

71 | Unceasingly

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I suppose the only thing that would justify me putting up a huge poster of me in a ridiculous kaftan top (because it is bitterly chilly out in Singapore no less) and with a pizza in my hands is that I am turning eighteen and this puts an end to.. nonsense. Or perhaps it is just the beginning. I do not know.

It only really began to set in yesterday – reality, I mean – when Mom gave me a hug and congratulated me on turning 18. Then came a flurry of texts and phone calls, most memorably Noel, because he finally busted out the words he’d tried to say for months, Elainn, especially when her relative busted in and told her to keep quiet, and then the voice recordings by Janice which were viciously hilarious, the social media flood from Jean and then the quiet text from Liansheng (which, really, was probably the most surprising). 🙂 I didn’t think anyone else would call but Kaiyang – Kaiyang – called and congratulated me as well. Plus points for sincerity? He’s certainly very proud of it!

02 gave me the most unique memory today with a celebration. I was told there’d be extra class of a module I particularly hate so I was cursing and swearing all the way up only to be pleasantly surprised at the door with paddlepop cake and a birthday song. Thank you guys! They’d heard I’d like to have a class gathering like we did at chalet and that’s exactly what we had, bonding over pizza (CHEESE PIZZA!) and talk. That’s exactly how I like 02!

20140120-222409.jpgKaiyang, squirrel incarnate.

20140120-222520.jpgThis looks so much like a family portrait I can’t even.. all it’s missing is a frame.

20140120-222532.jpgWith Cynthia, who so kindly organized this birthday gathering & gave me this fisheye + macro lens!


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Eunice and I are beginning to look.. alike.

20140120-222539.jpgDirty Juliet’s in the house.

20140120-222558.jpgMandatory shot with the mama, and the daisy-selling, truffle-growing farmer twin.

20140120-222551.jpgFinishing up the paddlepop cake. Look at the chaos 02 is in behind us.

Second surprise of the day came when I was doing my work in my room and I looked out to the living room where – lo and behold! – a fat cake sat there squat. Good golly, was I surprised.

20140120-222503.jpgYes, raspberry cheesecake!

This came as a totally unexpected surprise because when I was little I used to cry – like bawl the entire kindergarten down, whenever someone sang me a birthday song. Teachers said I was shy, but I prefer not to say that now because who would ever believe me? In any case, I think my parents just wanted to see if I’d grown up.. to see if I would still bawl. Na-uh. By the way, Swee Heng’s raspberry cheesecake is delicious! It’s not rich but it’s fluffy. Oh, it’s quite decent, I should say!

I received many gifts today and for that I am downright thankful. Those who wrote me letters, thank you. Words are one of the most beautiful language love can be conveyed in and I am so touched by them, simple as they are. Those who gave me gifts to go along with them, thank you again, because I never for a moment really wanted anything except your company 🙂 Thank you for making my day extraordinary, even though I tried to keep it low-key. Thank you for the kind wishes and blessings in all sorts of languages, whether it’s by personal text, social media or a face-to-face wish. The intention behind these are downright moving, especially when someone texts you after a long hiatus from your life! Perhaps these are what birthdays were made for – to reconnect people who’ve drifted away..?

I’ve felt incredibly loved today, but perhaps it’s time to remind myself that year-long this love hasn’t changed. Some of these people especially, I know they love me unceasingly, but I know it with my head and not my heart. It’s high time I transferred that knowledge where it can be best put to use healing battle wounds!

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18: in eighteen seconds you can rip someone apart, in eighteen minutes you can do basic housekeeping for your room, in eighteen hours you can deliver new life, and what have I done in eighteen years?

Looking back, I’ve made my fair share of blunders, been the more loving one a fair amount of time, worked like my life depended on it. So many fond memories, so many people who’ve crossed my path, some of whom have paths that have intermingled with mine for over a decade, others inching their way there, most just seeing the beginning of the perilous journey to lifelong friendship. I can gladly say that these people, each and every one of you, made footprints just crossing my path, and these can’t be erased. A small word, a kind gesture or a smile could have profoundly changed the way I look at things, and as much as I try to let them know sometimes someone slips through. Here are my thanks, for being on this journey with me and for altering my life just as I’ve (hopefully) altered yours. 🙂 That’s why humans are made for socializing, we create dents and prints on each other’s lives until the fabric of our lives each become like unique, well-worn leather. Some are pebbled, some are grainy and some are cross-hatched, but they’re all still leather and we each leave special somethings on each other’s canvas. Our actions, thoughts and words come back to us through a thousand sympathetic fibres, connecting each of us cosmically, a common feeling of what it feels like to be human leaping between us. This is why I believe in people first and foremost (and on a more down-to-earth scale, why I am in HR)!

It’s tough thinking of what I’ll be in the next 10 years. I suppose I can’t tell with even 20% certainty, but if I had to plot a trajectory I’d say that I’ll probably still be dabbling with languages, linguistics and people. I might have left theatre, or I might be contributing to the local scene. I might begin writing fiction (which has always intimidated me) or have sworn off poetry. There are so many things that hang precariously in a balance, and every day is full of work to get myself from here to the future that I envision myself in. It’s a little tough reminding myself to work hard now so I can live comfortably in future, yet preparing myself for the possibility that I may not have the opportunity to live as comfortably as I live now. Either way I believe that as long as languages/linguistics and people are a part of my life, somehow or rather I’ll come out okay. I’ll be fine, if not happy. These two things are my anchors, or, dare I even say it, the reason why I live. For those two alone I have so much gratitude to give!

In conclusion, 18 is a fine age, and I always say this – I treasure my youth. To be in an age where time seems to crawl and you are free to explore, free to love with abandon and free to chase everything under the sky that catches your fancy, I sense that this freedom is not something I can keep for most of my life. I shall cherish it while I have it, or not begrudge it when it’s gone. 18 brings a sense of finality, a close to my childhood years, and an opening to my adult years. It brings the smell of family and grocery shopping and bills on the wind, but also brings with it a heightened sense of perspective. No longer am I looking up at others from the ground. I am at eye-level, and I am ready to contend and connect. It tastes of naivety, fearlessness and endless hard work, but it’s one step at a time till you have your feet on the clouds.

66 | Augenblick

German (n.) lit. “in the blink of an eye”; a ‘decisive moment’ in time that is fleeting, yet momentously eventful and incredibly significant.

I’m finally back here after the hell that was presentation week. I finally feel like all my previous “hells” finally culminated into one blowup week, and I’m not even sure how 5/7 weeks of hell even occurred, but the important thing is, it’s over, and I am pretty much free to do whatever I want. Nah just kidding, I still have term papers.

I actually drafted this post something like 2 weeks ago, but because WordPress and iPhone photos don’t like each other, I couldn’t flip images. I tried everything, rotating on iPhone, rotating on my computer, rotating on WordPress, and nothing worked, until the idea hit me to try the iPhone WordPress app. Ya right? Slow. All these pictures here could date way back, but they’re here now, so enjoy!

Hit Cake Spade with Janice during HBL Week, and I had a really embarrassing moment there. Janice will give me grief for a lifetime with this one scene. All this hubbub started with that transparent cup you see. Usually in cafes they serve cappuccinos or coffees in general with white cups and or large glasses but I swear I’d never seen a cappuccino in a transparent teacup with a transparent saucer to match. Apparently I said “WOW!?” really loudly and Janice didn’t even dare to look at the server. Talk about shame hahaha.

Exciting incidents aside, I finally tried the tofu cheesecakes which were highly raved about. Was it up to the hype? Let’s just say I had 3 slices of cake that day. Just can’t get enough of that stuff. I mean, the fruits are fresh, the cheesecake is not too thick and it’s not very sweet either. Really appreciated the digestive biscuit base and it tasted delicious too! Bought more cakes to share with the family and busted about $80 on cakes alone. Now no one will believe me when I said I never used to be a dessert girl. In my defence, I am still not one, I’m just a cake kinda girl. 🙂

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Janice also ordered a ramekin which was way too sweet for me. This will tickle all you chocolate lovers out there, but I like dark chocolate and this was just sweet. Cloyingly sweet. Didn’t finish this but it was so pretty I had to take a photo of it!

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In most exciting news this week, my Daniel Wellington watch arrived! I’d been eyeing the watch from Justtangy for a few weeks and when Kwerkee had a preorder, I just couldn’t resist. I thought the Classy watches would be too small for me, although the Swarovski crystals were pretty, so I ordered the Classic with two straps – the Oxford strap was from Justtangy and the original Bristol strap. Changing the strap was the first thing I did – I mean, I see no sense in wearing leather to school everyday. Maybe for functions. I really enjoy the Oxford strap though, fall colours like navy blue, royal red and emerald green are my absolute favourites and I really can’t stop looking at the time now. 🙂

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Another event that nearly drove me crazy with happiness was when my little girl Charis came back from Beijing for a few days. She’s really got my me wrapped round her pinky finger. She is really good at manja-ing me, by the way. I can never resist her. Anyway I hope my little one enjoyed her stay. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder and I suppose that’s true. 🙂

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Outside matters aside, every day has been really enjoyable with 02. One thing about 02 is that we are all friends. If we bitch about someone, we’ll go and tell that person in their face, sooner or later. We trust each other, and we’re basically classroom hooligans. Asked Ms Juliana during PTN what her impression of 02 was and she said “dynamic”. ORLY? Just dynamic? Nah, we’re basically energy on legs. Whether it’s having class lunch or having unglams posted (cough, Micaela, cough) I really enjoy their company and they make me miss school on the days I decide to, er, call in sick. I hope we preserve this camaraderie until we’re in Year 3 and beyond, because God knows this is hard to come by.

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Also celebrated birthdays with my family this month. 🙂 Here are all the kids in a rare family shot (and probably one of the few that were actually successful) that a family girl like me would cherish for life. Stuffed myself at the Crystal Jade steamboat.. but then again I’ve not been watching my diet these few days.

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If I didn’t get my information wrong, I believe we’re the first and the earliest class in HR to take both presentations and boy, was it a rush. I basically slept all of 3 hours before DBE presentation, and slept 15 minutes for FOM presentation, and mind you these were on Tuesday and Wednesday, not to mention they came after a week in which I only slept 20 hours in total. That will explain the eyebags and the bad complexion. I have no idea why they choose to stuff a project with such a wide scope within one term, but we did it anyway. I mean, we’re used to this right? Business students are used to making miracles with presentations anyway. /sigh/

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More recent shots after our last presentation. I completely have no mood to study for my written papers now that I’m done with my presentations and that’s a really ominous sign. That also says that the picture above is me step studying. On the same day, Claudia and I both turned up in nautical-themed tops, and I discovered how many people in class were into Heirs.. basically about 1/4 of the class is hooked on this drama and we’re basically just catching up to each other’s speeds and trying not to spoil it for the rest.

Having said that, Heirs is a really good show. I mean, it’s rare for me to like a Korean drama because they’re so melodramatic, and truth be told I really go for actors/actresses – if there’s a few people I like you can be sure I’ll be watching it. All these are rather chanced upon because I don’t naturally start watching on my own. I watched Heirs because Eunice recommended it and I was bored after FOM presentation on Wednesday – and boy did I regret not heeding her advice to start after exams. With Chanyoung, Kim Tan and later Hyo Shin, they got me hook, line and sinker. I thought my heart would shatter for Cha Eun Sung’s plight but no, it shattered for Kim Tan’s predicament. 😦 I am now stuck at Ep 16 trying to wait patiently and not buy a ticket to Korea and rob the SBS studio for the remaining 4 eps. Worse still it’s broadcasted twice a week (and I thought waiting for On Call 2 was bad!) and I am not the most patient of people. Which you might have gathered already, from the way I’m speaking like a drug addict would.

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The past few weeks have been tough on me and the people around me. I’ve been easily irritable, although I don’t get angry easily. I keep babbling when I’m tired (because I just can’t shut up, can I?) and that must have irritated the people around me to no end. School wasn’t the only thing to hit, there were a few other things and deadlines going on at the same time as well, but despite being relieved that it’s over, I realized that I don’t really lament my busy days. I lament the days when I’m stuck at home feeling shitty with nothing to do but I don’t complain about the days in which I only have 3 hours to sleep. This amount of activity scares me because I’m never sure how much more my body can take, but the thought of having nothing to do scares me even more. In fact, it frightens me stiff. My time with SRT’s The Young Co. ends next January and other than some personal reasons why I’d be quite heartbroken to leave, I’m terrified that I’ll have nothing to while away my time. I’m currently tossing around the idea of going for another mentorship programme, or taking a second diploma in translation. Let’s see how much I can save, I guess. I quite like the idea of leaving my writing alone for a while and relaxing myself by indulging in languages.

SRT-TYC has been an amazing journey thus far. We concluded our last external workshop with Rikki, touring director of Peter Brook’s The Suit and have one last workshop with Bill on 7 Dec. Our short pieces will be going into production after that and the trepidation and insecurities are doing me no good. Next year on, we’ll part ways and though the industry is small, I’ll have no reason to meet my other lovely playwrights again. Over this year we’ve met almost every week. We’ve exchanged works, talked about insecurities, caught amazing shows together, and I’ll miss them dearly. I’ve grown close to a few of them and they’re all people I don’t think I could be here without. At this point of time I guess I’ll just have to reiterate my own point that every moment is fleeting and every meeting, transient. These are people I’ll continue loving and memories I won’t quickly forget. They’ve started me on a journey that I hope won’t see completion anytime soon, and where it goes from here is my own call. 🙂 It’s always nice to know I have buddies around though. It makes me feel like this is less of a steep cliff, but rather, just an uphill climb.

Exams will be over in a week, and then it’s partying all the way till New Year’s Day. Till the next time, then! x