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. 🙂

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99 | Unyielding

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If there is one thing I am unequivocally proud of, it would be, without doubt, the women in my heritage.

I come from a family of incredibly strong women – women who both held day jobs and ran the household. 女人一手顶天下; the women held up the sky with just one hand. All of them were fiercely independent – even too independent for their own good. They never caved in, never gave out. They always did what they had to for their family, and career came next. (I might be the first to reverse this trend, we’ll never know) They protected the ones they loved with their lives, no matter if it was a dangerous moment or a lifetime of shielding their children from harm. They love deeply, hurt greatly, and are stronger than anyone else I’ve known.

My great-grandmother managed to tame a household of 13 children, and was a staunch Buddhist because my grandfather was well-known to be a really wild boy. My grandmother went out to buy groceries during the Japanese Occupation, and is also very proud of the fact that she once swept her teacher out of her house with a broom. She first brought her sisters up, then my uncle and mother, working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Despite being very poor, she made sure they had the nutrition, education and character they needed to be valuable members of society. She also took care of countless other children and loved them as her own. My mother, once she gave birth to me, gave up her entire youth – all her dreams and promotions – just to bring me up. She loves old folks and children with the same unrelenting love. And if anyone even thinks of trifling with me, they ought to be ready to withstand my mother’s full wrath first. Tried and tested. My grandaunts, one a teacher and the other a nurse, played an integral part in bringing up all the children despite having none of their own. They now keep the family home, and are both expert gardeners and grandmothers.

All of them are such phenomenal, formidable, indestructible women, and I am so proud to be counted in their midst. I only hope I can be half of the women they are.

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.

87 | French Villages

Over the holidays, Mum, Cowfu and I headed to the nearby Berjaya Hills resort for a 3D2N staycation. Sort of staycation, since it’s so near to home! Drove over from Kuantan and I slept all the way up the horrifying, spiralling hill. It’s as though I have a magical alarm clock that wakes me at all the right moments, because I was awake just five minutes before the distinctive silhouette of Colmar Tropicale began to loom over me. 

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Colmar Tropicale is a French-themed villa/resort in Kuala Lumpur, Berjaya Hills. It’s beautiful. The weather up there is cooling, which explains the beanie. It’s not unlike Cameroon Highlands or Genting. I just have a very poor resistance to cold, especially when there are winds blowing. 

Of course, first on our agenda was exploring the villa.

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These swans were spotted at the front of the resort, and the black ones were separated from the white. I suppose this is because the white ones (contrary to expectations) were more hostile. The black ones were friendly, although they tried to peck me. I suppose it could be a show of affection.

We basically lazed our days around. I fully intended to write while I was there but I couldn’t concentrate. Things weren’t as dandy as they seem though. One of their power sockets scorched my laptop’s charger and the lights in the room, other than a few decorative bulbs, were non-existent. Sheesh. The nights there were sure unpleasant for someone so terrified of darkness, especially in a foreign place.

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The lights on the streets at night are pretty beautiful but hard to photograph. I enjoyed dinners both nights there, with the first night at the rotisserie and the second at the fine dining restaurant. Breakfast was decent but not spectacular. We had one lunch at the pizzeria and the lasagna (as with the quarter chicken at the rotisserie) is to DIE for. Food is gorgeous, fine dining’s not worth a try, neither is the coffee. I gorged myself on so much orange juice there!

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Staycations (or even short getaways) are hard to come by now that I’m in my second year, swamped with numerous projects and even more um, challenges, shall I say? I’m juggling many things at one go and trying not to drop any of them so let’s hope for the best. 

82 | Winter in SG

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If you’ve never set eyes on someone else who was as happy to be standing in the sweltering Singapore sun, it’s because they didn’t spend 6 hours in a freezing Kbox. Seriously though, if you ever want to experience being frozen, try Kbox.

In the span of one week, I spent eight hours in Kbox, 2 hours with Cynthia at Bugis Ksuites and six with my family at Jurong SAFRA’s branch on Labour Day. And simply because I couldn’t find any information on this – if you are a Sodagreen fan and plan to go to Kbox, they have a large selection of Sodagreen! This includes recent releases from the 秋:故事 album and old goodies like 空气中的视听与幻觉,频率 and 迟到千年. So, grab a bunch of your friends (order honey lemon because singing in falsetto is no joke) and plow your way through the entire list of Sodagreen songs!

Now that that’s ticked off my bucket list, Sodagreen AIR 2014 I am coming!

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.

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.

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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.

67 | Yuletide

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It’s been a long while, hasn’t it?

These four weeks have been chockful of fun that doesn’t feel like it. I have no either why either, I’m just really lethargic most of the time. I renege on my appointments and push off actual work, which is really not like me. /sigh I need to get my head back in the game once more!

We had our final session of SRT writing classes on 7 December, less than a year after we began on 26 Jan 2013. The only thing left now will be a short presentation of our pieces in the later half of January which I’m really not quite looking forward to. I think my piece is really lacklustre compared to the rest of my classmates’. What can I say, it’s my hard work and my improvement over the past year.

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After our last lesson with Bill we headed to Saizeriya for our last meal. I’ve had so many meals here in the past year because of SRT TYC and it only felt right to have our ‘last meal’ there! I always enjoy their company a great deal and spent the afternoon whiling time away at Esplanade with Liansheng. That place really feels like my refuge, it’s usually where I go after classes to indulge in books. :’) Funniest moment of the day would be when Liansheng and I were at Starbucks and we left our bags on the seat unattended. He asked me if it’d be safe and we simultaneously looked at each other and said, “But you can run fast right?” :’D

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Headed to the airport on Monday morning to finish our marketing assignments. Jan and I stayed on after that and we spent the afternoon at KFC doing odd things. My darling girl tried to draw a caricature of me and she decided to take the photo before drawing the rest of my face because she was so sure she’d spoil it. Now that I look at it, Jan, the proportions aren’t slightly off, they’re completely crooked! 😦

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Stayed in the airport till late evening to send my uncle off to Edinburgh and we enjoyed a good meal at TCC. Strangely, I don’t really fancy the food there. Or perhaps it’s because I’ve been craving kimbap too much (daily for 8 weeks and counting..) or that I have an obsession with the dark-sauce chicken that my mom cooks. It’s the best, really. It finally outran my addiction to her sesame-oil chicken with a good score of 11 months. It’s still going strong so.. keep ’em coming, Mom!

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I don’t know much about visual/fine arts, but this art piece is certainly a very riveting one. It caught my attention every time we walked past it and the aviation symbols it formed were really meaningful. I recognized those symbols from watching Triumph in the Skies 2 so if you’re one of those drama detractors, hey, it’s educational!

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Went to watch Tempest with Elainn at the end of that week. I’ve seen this girl the most number of times this entire holiday and I can’t say I dislike that. We started by spazzing about Heirs together and it soon grew to envelop us sharing a lot of our lives. I can safely say we’ve never been this close before. :’) You go girl!

Celebrated Jiatyan’s birthday at her place on Sunday with the Alpacas and it was pretty poignant. I mean, imagine 9 girls (full strength, finally!) talking at a table (rather rowdily) and the entire conversation stopping once someone so much as said, “Satay!” My girls are irreplaceable :’D We all went into a food coma cos we couldn’t stop eating – there was handmade pizza, salad, lasagna, apple cider, wagyu beef.. wagyu beef. I don’t know how much rare wagyu beef I ate but damn was it good! Oh, and she had a really pretty handmade lavender rose cake. You’re a blessed girl, aren’t you, Jiatyan? :’)

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Finally had the opportunity to meet up with this woman! Went on a shopping trip after visiting Chinese Chambers to register for my second diploma in translation and we started at City Hall. For some reason neither of us shopped a lot that day, in fact, I don’t remember buying anything (which is, really, a borderline miracle) but we had some really good Korean food at bibigo. 🙂 I’ve been really addicted to Korean food recently, don’t ask me why either. Headed to Ion after that, but we still didn’t get anything. Now that I think of it it’s really pretty ridiculous..

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Thomas gor tied the knot at Marina Mandarin just this weekend and attending his wedding felt surreal. Thomas gor, along with Vincent gor (above) have known me since they were NSmen and I was in primary school. They’ve known me for a mighty long time (witnessed numerous embarrassing incidents) and now both are married and Vincent gor even has a really cute boy! Time does fly by and meetings like these remind me to cherish every single moment, lest I regret anything at all.

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Spent Christmas with my Godpa’s family at the annual Christmas party and had loads of fun! Seeing the entire extended family and watching the kids grow up year after year (as well as feeling all self-satisfied that I’m no longer in the children category) makes for a really good time. Also, the food is all homecooked and that melon float I’m holding above is also homemade, so you won’t find it for retail anywhere. Be very jealous, because that stuff was dope. I wish I could cook even half as well as they can! We ended up playing mahjong till 4.30AM in the morning and I was stoned. Literally playing mahjong without knowing what I was doing (which is never a good strategy to adopt) but at least I won back everything!

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These holidays have mostly been spent at home lazing around. Very uncharacteristic of me, indeed. Probably have to find some way to get myself up and kicking but in any case, I still enjoyed the holidays because of my dramas and reality/variety shows 😉 This is a prelude to my next post, so stay tuned!

I have been focusing a lot more on languages instead of creative writing ever since I left SRT, so I’ve been brushing up on my Korean the entire holiday. I think I’ve improved a fair bit, but every time I feel like patting myself on the back I realize how much more there is to learn. It’s never ending, I guess, and not a quantifiable amount. I do really intend to master this language though. I can foresee myself becoming increasingly confused between my four languages, especially when I have to put more emphasis on Chinese with my second diploma next year. I often catch myself speaking in Korean to my grandma by accident, or lapse into Cantonese when talking to my friends all of a sudden. It’s strange, but it just goes to show how some ideas are better expressed in certain languages, more so than others. 😉 It’s just me learning to appreciate the nuances of languages more and more.

Merry Christmas, y’all! 새해 복 많이 받으세요!

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