23.12.01

The funny thing about journal-writing is how habit-forming it gets. I feel like I have to record the past two days' events before even more things happen and I fall behind in record-keeping. I don't think the same compulsion is as strong when keeping a private journal --- unless something particularly memorable or significant happened in that time --- but with an audience reading this, whoever they all are, the pressure's a little different.

So here's what's been going on, and there's been a lot of it, considering that only forty-eight hours have passed since my last entry.

On Friday, after posting my journal entry, I headed to school, picked up my laptop and some other materials, heaved a pile of books into the car, and came right back. Along the way, I almost skidded along the Pan-Island Expressway (at the Thomson flyover), which was a highly freakish experience since I had been neither speeding, accelerating nor braking at the time, but the drive home was mercifully without incident.

At home, we packed a small overnight bag --- and I really mean small because when I said to Terz that we should pack, he was like, "Pack what?" --- and got ready to leave. I'd told Terz about the near-accident and he thought it was because our tires are old and due to be changed anyway, so he assured me (or rather, I asked for assurance several times) that it wasn't my fault that the near-skid happened. When he saw the car though, or rather its rear right tire, he changed his assessment: it still wasn't my fault, but we'd had a blowout, and we had to change our tires immediately. So instead of heading for lunch and then to the Marina Mandarin, we stopped by a car workshop near our home --- Terz didn't want to risk driving much on the old and blasted tires --- and spent an hour and a half twiddling our thumbs in the waiting room while the car got new tires. Add another six hundred dollars to our credit card bill. But the service staff were really nice, for a change.

This meant that we were starving by mid-afternoon when we finally checked into the hotel, so we did the natural thing people-who-are-already-broke do: order room service. Damn, it was expensive, but damn, it was nice to eat food on china plates and with napkins and silverware and anything. Plus I'd just showered, so I was wearing a bathrobe when we ate. It's all part of the hotel experience, I tell you. I'm not about to make room service a habit whenever I stay in a hotel, but it's a nice treat, yeah.

Stomachs sated, we walked over to collect the contact sheets and negatives for the photographs Terence took at the wedding last week. He didn't make prints yet because he wanted to just order (for himself and the couple) pictures that turned out well, and we are happy to report that many pictures turned out well. Some, in his own opinion and that of a photographer friend whom we met the next day, are good enough to go into his portfolio --- which is a good thing since the one big thing I haven't mentioned in this journal is the fact that Terence is considering a change in career, only he needs a lot of practice before he goes full-time, which is where shooting at friends' weddings and other random gigs becomes important.

Naturally, then, the next thing we did was walk over to Bras Basah and buy him a new portfolio (the existing one is full). Then it was back to the hotel for some crosswords and rest, before meeting our friends for a play. By then, it was full-on raining down on us. I don't know if I've said it here before, but in Singapore, it's not Christmas if it's not raining heavily. Through the rain, we went to Mohammed Sultan --- dinner at Viet Cafe, followed by Hark the Jingle Red-Nosed Chestnut at the DBS-Singapore Repertory Theatre at Robertson Quay. Hark is not so much a play as it is a collection of skits, parodying Christmas in Singapore as well as other local icons and rituals. I read a Bloomberg article yesterday that only one in seven Singaporeans is Christian, yet the holiday is celebrated with as much fervor as it is in Europe and America. Do you see how strange we are?

Anyway, dinner was okay and Hark was much, much better. The two short skits that really hit home with me were the "Counting with Annabelle Chong" segment and a look at how the local TV network has handled war dramas through the years (i.e. essentially, nothing has changed). Those were the two ROTFLMAO moments for me, but the rest was pretty good too.

Our Hark tickets gave us discounts at area bars, so we wound up at BarCelona's, which was right next door. I'd never been there before, but it was nice and mellow, with some live music (though by the time we got there, the guitarist sang only another four or five songs before packing it in for the night), a pool table and neato rattan-ish furniture. The Bs joined us there, we had drinks and pool, and when the place closed at 2 am, we popped over to Tivoli's for a few more drinks before that place closed at 3 am.

The funny thing was, we were all sorta hyper from the drinks or something, so we invited the Bs (our other friends decided they wanted to go home and sleep) back to our hotel room. On the way, we stopped at 7-Eleven to get more drinks. At about 4 am, we also decided to bring Scrabble, which we'd brought with us, but I lasted about three or four rounds, before my mind just refused to cooperate with me --- I couldn't see any words out of the letters before me --- and I fell asleep, right there. Apparently, the three of them continued to play for a while more, and it was five-thirty before the Bs went home. I dimly recall hearing Mrs B trying to wake Mr B up, because he'd dozed off in a chair, and I was told the next day that the wake-up operation took fifteen minutes. Heh.

Whew.

I didn't sleep very well because the previous hotel guest had set the clock-radio alarm for 8:40 am, and when it went off, it took Terz and I a few vital groggy seconds before we located the source of the noise and shut it off. Then Terz had to call his photographer friend --- whom we were originally going to meet at 10 am --- to postpone the appointment. Then at 11 am my cousin in Hong Kong called my cellphone, to give me flight information since I was supposed to pick her up when she got in. And since checkout time was noon, I thought 11 was a pretty good time to get up.

More grogginess, more packing, more adding things to our credit card bill when we checked out. We headed to Burger King, when a bit of food and a lot of 7-Up revived me somewhat, and hung out with our photographer friend. We were going to go home after that, but we got a call from the newlywed couple about meeting mid-afternoon to look at both Terz's pictures and Mrs B's, since the latter was collecting her contact sheets at that time. They also asked us to meet them at Sng Arms, an army surplus store in Chinatown, for a bit of shopping before that. So the three of us hiked down to Trengganu Street, which was a pleasant walk despite the warmth of the afternoon, and poked around Sng Arms for a while. They sell your regular army surplus stuff as well as more hardcore offerings like samurai swords, a variety of knives and other camping gear; T pointed out the katana-short sword pair he wants for his next birthday.

From Sng Arms, we popped over to an Indonesian store 'cause my friends wanted to get some Christmas gifts there, then made our way to meet Mrs B and pore over contact sheets. It's so exciting to see wedding pictures --- or any pictures of an important event, I guess --- and I confess I'm jealous that we don't have as many pictures of our wedding. I suppose that's the price we paid for being the first in our circle of friends to get married, before those of them who are photography buffs today really got into the habit.

When we got home, our friend from London was awaiting us (as planned) to pick up some videotapes of shows that I'd taped for him while he was away (since he'd been watching things like The Gilmore Girls here, which aren't available in the UK). He was here for all of fifteen minutes, since he had other plans afterwards, and I couldn't get over how much weight he'd lost from being away for just three months. I'm not sure how it happened --- and he claims not to know either --- but either English food is worse than they say, or he's been secretly eating just salads to get by.

Finally, Terz and I got to take some naps, though not very long ones, because we had to be up by 7ish so that he could go to X-Man's party and I could get ready to pick up my cousin and her boyfriend from the airport. My errand took longer than I expected, partly because the boyfriend's flight was delayed, partly because I'd asked them to get something at duty-free for me and the duty-free lines were long, so I had to circle the pick-up area three times before they materialized. Fortunately, the cops didn't give me a ticket, though they were looking rather dour. I'm not especially close to this cousin, who's a good deal younger than I am and living in New Zealand to boot, but her family has an apartment near where we live, so I thought one of my contributions to goodwill this year would be to pick them up (the rest of the family arrives later today). Her boyfriend looks nothing like I expected, but I admit that my impression of him from the descriptions I'd received were hazy at best. Nothing like a good strong Kiwi accent coming out of a Chinese guy's mouth to throw me for a loop, though.

Finally, I got to X-Man's party at about 10 pm and we stayed till 2-something. It wasn't a big party, but it was nice to see some of his friends again and catch up with them. The duty-free liquor my cousin bought was a big hit because you can't get Absolut Mandarin on regular store shelves here, and people were shocked that the bottle only cost $20-something in duty-free; our liquor taxes are daylight robbery, I know.

Eventually, I got Terz home and into bed, and then there were a bit of puking --- which I record only because this is the first time in six years he's had so much to drink that he puked --- then there was sleep. And now I'm awake; Terz is still asleep and I will probably go back to bed this afternoon. I'm debating if I should go grocery shopping today, though. We're supposed to fix a salad for the family potluck lunch on Christmas Day and part of me wants to get the food today, while my usual procrastinatory self is quite happy to wait till tomorrow morning. We have dinner plans with my parents tonight --- my brother got back from the US late last night --- and I should squeeze in some of my overdue work (testimonials and editing) in between all this.

Ah, well. We'll see.

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