Saturday, March 31, 2007

Random Thoughts

Art I Bought And Art I Want

I bought this pair of ceramic sculptures entitled "Windows 2" by Anna Choi, a Chinese Australian ceramicist who fled to Australia after the Tiananmen Incident in 1989. She is extremely talented and her works are so diverse. These caught my eye for their simple but Zen qualities. There is a sense of spirituality in them. I just love them. There is another pair of "Windows" which are dark , and I have to have those too.

This fragile looking flower with a bronze patina glaze is by Gudrun Klix, a German-Australian ceramicist. They are finger-pressed, moulded and have this feathery quality about them even though they are ceramic pieces. I have been looking at this piece for the last 2 weeks and I think I will get it before the exhibition closes.

Dinner At Chinta Ria

Dinner tonight was big by my standards over the last 3 weeks when all I could manage was 3 small little vegetable buns. Stress does this to me, I lose my appetite, at times I feel nauseated when I smell food. I've lost 2 kgs and 1 inch off my waistline. But tonight at Chinta Ria (Temple of Love, the translation says), we had Indian Mee Goreng (although my favourite at Cafe Societe in KL, the infamous venue where Anwar was arrested for charges of sodomy, is still better) and Fried Beef Kway Teow (as good as the one at the Seasports Centre at the winding road near the airport hangars near the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal), both excellent. And the loh-bak starter was delicious. All by my very high Asian standard, not the Ang Moh standard either. This fat, smiling buddha greets customers at the entrance, with offerings of incense and pineapples no less. Chinta Ria looks like a expensive, chi-chi joint, but really the prices were pretty reasonable. I know where I'll be going when I get a craving for Fried Beef Kway Teow the next time!

Friday, March 30, 2007

I'm Done

Stress levels have been high the last 3 weeks. Uni assignments were falling due in the same 7-day period. Bad planning of choice of essays or plain bad luck? I haven't been this fatigued nor stressed over school for a long time, probably the first time in the last 1 year since I've started the course. And this is the final leg. Another 2 months, I am counting down the days literally. Probably with full term courses, internship hours and office work, all that is just a little too much for one person. With very little personal time left to recuperate or just chill, it feels like an endless churn of one thing to another. Physically and mentally worn out, even unbroken hours of sleep don't seem to heal one's tired out body and soul. That takes an emotional toil as well.

But I see some reprieve as I finish the last of my paper. I am over it and not about to revise or review it. Too tired, too brain dead, too many better things to do.

Like sleep. A restful, soul-healing sleep.

Oh and the pumpkin? Just a cheerful picture to end the post - hope springs eternal after all, with new life, growth, sunshine and all that jazz. And all I can do is hope.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Estrangement Of City Life

I am doing an essay on estrangement and isolation of city living after the Industrial Revolution, have been reading Karl Marx and Engel's essay on that topic today. And coincidentally, that is how I've been feeling all day - a sense of loneliness in this city of 6 million people. There is life around me, sounds of cars and other traffic, I hear people talking below my balcony, I can even discern what they are saying, heels clicking on the pavement as people hurry along to their destinations... but an overwhelming sense of isolation surrounds me. I feel that I am all alone really, alienated from the rest of life that is going on.

Does the fact that it's a big city with bustling life, amplify this feeling? Making one feel smaller and even more alone than you already are? Is it the noises that highlight that you are silent? Or is it the people rushing about that reminds you that you do not have anywhere to arrive at? Or that you don't have anyone to go home to?

Does loneliness make people do desperate and sometimes stupid things? Or does it make one stronger as you learn to cope with the isolation and learn to enjoy your own company? I guess one just has to keep reminding oneself that this too, shall pass. It's just a phase of life that one goes through, and with that, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Verdict No. 1: Haircut

Completely unintentionally, I ended up with one of those post-big-traumatic-break-up haircuts that women get, in a relatively easy but yet dramatic change, that they want to make to themselves and their lives after a particularly bad/sad ending of a relationship. My instructions to the hairdresser was to "cut 2 inches off, just a trim, and not too layered, please.", I wasn't aiming for one of those image-changing looks. She first showed me the first snip to assure me of the length she was cutting off, yeah that looks reasonable, I nodded my head. Subsequent snips just went more and more and I ended up with a head of hair which was probably half in terms of amount that I started out with. The up-side is my head feels lighter, all the dry, yellow, hay-like ends were all completely lopped off and my hair looks and feels so much healthier. It's gone really wavy because there isn't the length or weight to pull the hair down straight(er), so my natural waves have kicked in. And instead of just 2 inches off, I think the back is just slightly below my shoulders and the sides just sweep my collar bones. On my nth look in the mirror to examine this post-trauma haircut that I did not request for, I have decided that it doesn't look so drastic after all...

Verdict No. 2: My fave Hainanese chicken rice shop

Standards have dropped drastically. Perhaps it was the shock of the cold chicken kicking in as I was the first customer at 11 am and it was truly the cold sort of steamed chicken which takes many new customers to Hainanese chicken rice by surprise, that they served me. The minced ginger in oil was still good, but the rice itself barely had the flavour of the chicken stock. I had to sniff hard just to ensure I wasn't given a thermos pot of regular rice by accident. The mild fragrance was barely palpable. The taste was even less so, if possible. I was sorely disappointed, having not eaten there for several months, and my previous memory of it was still reasonably good. I have to look into the depths of my pantry to see if there is any remnants of the chicken rice mix I bought which I thought was not up to standard, because after today, even that sub-standard homemade stuff tastes better. And I ate so little of the rice, for the first time, I did not end up with a solid-brick-stuck-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach feeling...

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Blues Gets Better

Monday started out pretty bluesy. I was fatigued and contemplated calling in sick. The whole combo of uni, gallery, work (plus a bit of social life) has taken its toll. It was the straight-laced Singaporean with good work ethics in me that made me finish up brekkie (albeit reluctantly and slowly), pull out some clothes, throw them on and get moving.

But the day in the office went by quite quickly as there was lots to do, new people to meet, faces were finally put to names I've been emailing and talking to for a while. That was pretty good and I enjoyed the meetings and making the contact. Then a relatively long lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant, posher than my fave little Viet cafe that I normally go to (and which I bring my special friends to only, so as not to overcrowd the little eatery which already gets crowded later in the evenings). The ambience was nice but the food at this posh place was just average. Costs twice as much as my cheapie fave cafe too.

Final phone interview with the potential new employers, this time with the HR manager who wanted to know my expectations for compensation, in addition to a couple of "interview type" questions she had for me. That went all right and she said I would be getting "something" from them end of this week or early next week.

And to cap it off, someone offered me his old tv as he's just bought a new LCD tv.

The bluesy day had progressively gotten better. And tomorrow I'm going to finally get a haircut (loping off all my split ends is just a glorious thought) and have my hainanese chicken rice lunch at the so-far best place I have discovered here. Ah good food - that always makes me even happier...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Almost A Certainty

I am pretty certain I know the answer to question 1 of this earlier post now. I've got a meeting scheduled for next Monday to talk about it, and the answer to that is yes, I (most probably) got it. I'm right on that too. So both uncertainties are now certainties (well this one is not over till the fat lady sings, but I can almost bet my month's salary on the outcome). So it seems that the pieces of the jigsaw that is my life, are slowly falling in place, one by one. I can certainly do with more stability in my life right now. An anchor, a safe haven.

And so I sat down, putting pen to paper, making a list of pros and cons about the 2 jobs before me. In my heart, I already knew the answer, but making the list, forces one to see it more clearly since it is concretised on paper. The decision is not difficult, it is a matter of being truthful and philosophical about what I want in life at this point in time. I know what I want from this. In fact I have always been pretty clear about what I want in life, granted a couple of times I went astray, but hey, if it doesn't kill you, it only makes you stronger, isn't that right? So now I emerge, knowing what I want, and a stronger person to boot.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Life Is A Circle

Life is a circle, some wise person said.

Last night, I receive an email with an explanation of sorts about how 2 don't translate into the third (when logically it should - or so we (normal people) objectively feel). Tonight, I write one myself. With my explanation of sorts about how the gypsy life does not suit me. So I get one, and I give one away. That's what karma is all about?

The acoustic version of "Separate Lives" is playing right this moment. How very apt.

"Yes, from now on, we'll go on living separate lives..."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

And The Heart?

Everyone's looking for something, just like the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man in the "Wizard of Oz".

What if you find it in your head and your blood but can't find it in your heart? 2 out of 3 ain't too bad? Or not quite enough? Well the answer's pretty straight forward I guess, if it's not in the heart, it's not enough. But how can it be in your head and your blood and after all that, it doesn't translate into your heart?

And so, one keeps searching, until one finds the answer to all 3. And if you still don't find it, you keep going on, till you drop dead, peaceful in the knowledge that you kept trying and didn't settle for anything less?

Monday, March 12, 2007

First Assignment Of The Term: Censorship

Listening to the rain outside, feeling the chilly air, I pause and gather my thoughts as I try to piece together the proposal for my research paper. Only the title and a paragraph amounting to 300 words for now. I sat down at 8 and started composing, it is now almost 11 pm. Of course I was distracted with emails, reading the news online, my nightly dose of foodblogs as I tried to write my proposal. Finally I am satisfied. This is the first assignment of the semester, and I think it's off to a good start, having moved with the swing of things. It also helps that my research papers is on:-

"Censorship In the Arts And Media: Singapore In Establishing Herself As A “Global City For The Arts” – A Case Study"

Something familiar, something of personal interest is always useful.

I've done my work for the night. Now I can go read something frivolous before bed. With the nice, cool weather, I'm almost certain I'll be sleeping as comfortably as this fat cat here, named London, who's blissfully in a world of her own...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Inward And Outward

For the last 4 months, I've only been getting 1 day off a week. With this precious day off, I've learnt to cram a lot into it. Or sometimes not. Just sitting around at home, surfing the net, chatting with friends, then taking a short walk just for some fresh air and a break from the confines of the 4 walls of the shoebox. But today, I maxed the day out I guess.

First had brunch in the park with a takeaway box of dim sum and a latte. A nice blend of East and West. After brunch, went for a walk along the water, north of the bridge. Ogled all the beautiful and multi-million dollar houses dotting the waterfront.

Then had a late lunch at a Thai cafe at 3 pm. Pretty good "boat noodles" which was a rich pork-broth beehoon soup with chunks of braised pork and deep-fried pig skin which was oh so crispy and I ate them all (despite the fact I have never eaten these back home). Walked all the way to the Rocks to have a gelato (honey toffee and malt) overlooking the ferries, then walked home. Didn't even eat dinner tonight.

Had interesting company today. Talked a lot. Made some discoveries. And some evaluations. Did some self-reflecting and feel pretty good generally.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Certainties & Uncertainties (Part 2)

Well, I've got the answer to question 2 in the previous post.

Yes, tick - I am right. It is too hard. Life in general is already hard enough without deliberately looking to make it harder. So I'm not. I've closed the chapter, filed emails away in a folder aptly titled "the past" and deleted the phone entry in my directory. For all my friends reading this blog and wondering about my mental health, fret no more - I insured myself well this time round, I am fine, I am moving on. I am done.

As for the relevance of the photo, my feet just look to me like they are having a conversation with each other in the vein of:
Right foot says to left foot, "So, she's really all right, isn't she?"
Left foot replies, "Yeah of course she is all right. Well, she's been on a helluva rollercoaster ride. But she's come off it now. She will be all right. Just give her a day or 2."
Right foot observes, "She never did like those amusement park rides anyway..."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Certainties & Uncertainties

As the old saying goes, "Nothing is certain but death and taxes". Home taxes are coming due soon, I've just received my income statement for 2006. For once, I'm happy to see that I've got a very low figure on the statement. I think I might even be below the income threshold to pay tax for the year. But no fear, come June, I'll be paying hefty taxes on this end. Well, since the tax has already been withheld monthly, I won't have to be paying hefty taxes as I've already been paying that on a monthly basis.

This is not a post about taxes. This is supposed to be a post about certainties and uncertainties.

I'm going to look into my future right now and make 2 statements. In due course, we'll know whether either or both will be a certainty.

1. Yes, I'll get it.
2. No, it's too hard.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Perfect Day, A Flat Day

There is a pattern. I see it. Yes I do.

A good day, followed by a "flat" day. A perfect day out, nothing could go wrong. Then followed by a day where doubts and insecurities and confusion reign supreme.

First the good day. Lamb on the spit, fine weather, nice company, beautiful scenery. A hike along the trails in the park, and later, a dip in the river, floating along the water and jumping on each other, rowing on the water trying to not overturn the little boat whilst we swap positions, fun with the frisbee. Lots to eat. Nightfall - everyone out on the deck, stars twinkling overhead, glimpses of them through the trees and the bush. Huge, full moon, high up like a lantern in the sky, moving across the darkness so slowly. The guitars come out, music fills the night, amongst the chatter.

Then the flat day. The flat day always follows the good (or even perfect) day. Without fail so far. Why? Maybe some people don't believe in perfection, and are always looking for some flaw. I don't know the answer. What I do know is that there is no third chance. Everybody deserves a second chance, but if the same thing happens again, there is no turning back. There is no third chance. We are done.