No more nausea, but much work at work. Not sure which is worse.

Okay, nausea is worse because I can't do anything even though I'm home sick. Though there's now much work, at least I'm reading and not at all concerned that I might pass out any second.

The much work at work is to do with running around prepping our Acting Minister for various upcoming events this weekend. It's not so much absorbing as it is routine, once you've got the SOPs down. I just want it to be over so I don't have to creep around on tenterhooks wondering if I've overlooked something.

("Creep around on tenterhooks" is probably a mixed metaphor. It would help my diagnosis if I knew what a tenterhook was.)

I woke at 6 am, fully intending to run. Then I remembered that I washed by hair yesterday, so it's not due to be washed again till tomorrow. Not that I mind washing it per se, but after spending $150 on a color job, I don't want to be washing the color out twice as fast on account of jogging. So I'll run tomorrow and Sunday instead, so that the running is in sync with the hair-washing.

Yes, I'm that kind of girl.


I'm a person who thrives on reading. If there's one thing I do from the moment I'm done with morning ablutions till I hit the sack at night, it's read. I read books, news reports, webpages, advertisements, signboards, SMSes on my cellphone. I even read subtitles when I'm watching TV, so long as the subtitles are in a language that I actually read. It's gotten so bad that I can't help but read Chinese subtitles for an English program, so that I'm frequently 'spoilered' for a couple of seconds before the actor actually says his/her line --- or sometimes cackle at the inadvertent humor of a flawed translation.

This morning, I had trouble reading.

To be fair, I had other issues too. I couldn't stand for more than a couple of minutes tops, before the room started spinning and I had to sit or lie down again. I felt a constant nausea, the kind I usually get from riding in a poorly driven vehicle, especially one that's jerking from lane to lane or following a winding route up to Cameron Highlands or Fraser's Hill. The rest of me was fine, but the fact that I couldn't stand for very long without feeling like I was going to faint pretty much eliminated any possibilities of traversing any distances further than from one room of our small apartment to the next.

The first thing I did, naturally, was to send SMSes asking for help. That's when I knew I was in trouble. Staring at the tiny SMS screen with its flickering characters that appeared with every punch of a button, I was starting to feel even more nauseous. It's a good thing I SMS so much that, like typing. I can pretty much do it without looking at the screen.

A suggested remedy was a cup of strong tea without milk, so I nuked some water to make the tea. While waiting for the microwave to ping, I tried to finish the last four pages of a chapter of Rushdie's The Ground Beneath Her Feet. I'm about one-third through the book and T's taking it to India, so I thought it'd be easier for me to pick it up again if I'm at the end of a chapter rather than in the middle of one.

I didn't make it beyond the first two lines from where I'd stopped. Nausea --- again.

Fortified by tea, I tried to watch a bit of TV to kill time (and also to test the extent of nausea). TV didn't pass the test, either.

So basically, though the dizziness had waned, unless I sat still and didn't try to look at anything that had the slightest hint of movement about it, I felt sick. This was clearly a job for our neighborhood doctor.

I popped down to the clinic and drew lucky number 13. The nurse told me the doc had just started seeing patient number 1, so I bought the newspapers and read them practically cover to cover in the waiting room. That induced nausea too, but by this point I was getting used to the default feeling of queasiness.

The doctor's eventual verdict? Stress and/or strain. She blames it on work, though I kept blinking uncompehendingly, because work hasn't been awful lately and I really don't feel stressed. Clearly my body knows something I don't.*

Anyway, I got some pills to alleviate the cursed nausea and was stable enough to read some of last month's National Geographic issue before I fell asleep. Now I'm testing myself by surfing the web while MTV's on in the background. Is that hunger I feel or is the dreaded nausea about to strike once more?

Oh, to be able to read without fear or trepidation...

* Fyi, the other possible diagnoses were gastric and an inner ear imbalance. The former was dismissed because I didn't have any other symptoms; the latter because if I really had it, I'd feel sick even when lying down. So the next time you have inexplicable nausea/dizziness with no other symptoms, you know what you might have.


Up and at 'em

That's what we did today. Up just before 7 am. Out the door in our new running shoes just after 7 am. 1.2 km and 25 minutes later, we were home.

Not too shabby, considering that our original goal was to wake up at 6 am and when T said run, I seriously thought he was going to pull some 5 km shit on me and have me run myself literally till my legs gave way and I tumbled face-first into the ground. But he decided that we're starting with 1.2 km and we'll stick to 1.2 km till we can do it without thinking about it. Sounds like a reasonable goal to me. I'm going to try to continue with the 1.2 km while he's gone, though I suspect I might be running more in the evenings rather than in the mornings.

After the run, I had time to shower before I tagged along on a Minister Committee Visit recce (viz.: Cabinet Minister visits constituency, shakes hands, pats residents on the back, watches them go about their daily activities, except that of course almost all the activities have been lined up especially for his visit). If nothing else, I learned that I could never be a politician in Singapore because I'd fail abysmally with the Chinese ground.


I find it hard to believe that on Singapore's Brainiest Scholars tonight, the guy answering questions in the Television category knew that the name of Martin Sheen's West Wing character is Josiah, but he couldn't cough up the 'Bartlet' to go with it. Lucky for him, they gave him the point for it anyway.

"The fair-haired young woman with the baby had that plain and practical beauty that young mothers radiate like sunshine. The kind of natural glow a woman gets when she has something far more important than makeup, deadlines, or relationship issues in her life. When she becomes the gentle god to a little one that depends on her for all the big things and all the trivial things."

--- Dr Scott, Medea Sin

He and John Scalzi make having children sound absolutely delightful, as compared to local government ads that I heckle mercilessly the moment they pop up on TV.

For the record, I don't have makeup or relationship issues on my mind right now. However, work deadlines are pretty killer all on their own. *growl*

An incredibly productive Saturday

You know how most of the time I write about how nothing really happened recently, except for me watching some old West Wing or roleplaying online or vegging out in front of the TV?

Well, Saturday was certainly anything but that.

First off, I went to work. That, in itself, is usually non-productive; I usually spend so much time surfing the net on a Saturday morning that I'm bored before the official knock-off time of 1 pm. However, because I'd left a bunch of stuff half-finished on Thursday afternoon (I'd ostensibly taken a half-day, though I didn't exit the building till about 2:30 pm), I was a rapidly typing productive cubicle rat on Saturday morning. I also had time to surf the net and catch up on some regular websites I read, so it was productive in a non-work sense too.

After work, there was lunch (always a pleasant proposition), followed by shoe-shopping. T and I now have running shoes! His are red, I kid you not, and mine a more muted and lovable baby blue/powder blue. I tried on a pair of bright orange ones, but they were some newfangled design that were low cut at the ankle and with plastic bits on the side that pull together when you lace up. They just didn't sit right on my foot. So I got shoes that looked like what athletic shoes have more or less looked like since the '80s, only they feel softer. Call me a conservative consumer, why don't you.

In addition to shoes, I got running shorts and a pair of socks too. Because when you've already busted the monthly budget on a cousin's wedding and a mother's birthday and the need* for running shoes, what's another thirty bucks on shorts and socks?

Our little consumer adventure was followed up by some prompt breaking-in of the shoes. Since we were all gathered anyways (we being G-man, cousin Dan and his wife, T and me), we headed northwest to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. It's so far north you can see Malaysia, which I actually mistook for Singapore because I thought at first that I was looking across the nearby Kranji reservoir rather than the Straits of Johor.

Other than sightings of the non-Singaporean landscape, we also saw numerous egrets, which led to fond reminiscing about Eagle and Egret and what they're doing on their honeymoon.** There was a brief otter sighting, but it was swimming directly away from us so we didn't get a good look at it. In fact, I thought it was an oversized mudskipper at first. We saw lots of mudskippers too, and some monitor lizards, and some crabs, and plenty of dead molluscs (T thinks the otters ate them), and a huge spider that I would've run away from had it so much as moved. It was so deathly still in the centre of its web that we were starting to wonder if it was real or just rigged by the park people in its prominent location to make urbanites like us feel happy that, if nothing else, we saw a spider.

Anyway, watch T's Fotolog for photos of our little afternoon out.

Technically, I didn't break my shoes duing our walk. I was already wearing walking shoes, while Dan's wife was in slippers and couldn't find a pair of running shoes she liked at the store, so she wore mine and broke them in for me. I still don't see why T thinks it's important to break in running shoes. I thought they were supposed to built for comfort, so you could just slip them on and run, run, run.

Speaking of running, we didn't quite run back to the car, but we were certainly brisk-walking once we got out of the park, to race the fierce clouds that were threatening to unleash heaven's fury on us. We knew for a fact that rain was en route, thanks to a handy SMS received some time earlier that warned us about the pouring rain in Bedok. Next time someone wants to know how small Singapore is, I'm going to point out that it still takes embittered storm clouds a good 30-45 minutes to race east-west, so it's not that small, hey?

Once we got into the car, it was another race, because T and I had to run home and shower before dinner, and we were definitely going to be late. We turned out to be a good half hour ate, but fortunately the food at Bumbu was fabulous and won over my grandfather (who's kinda hard to predict, these days), so I think we were forgiven for that. The parentals also loved the restaurant, and kept talking about the restroom --- not that it had an open window that allows you to see over shophouses all the way to the hideous Golden Landmark Hotel, but about the vases and pots they use to house plants and fish in the restroom. I like it especially 'cause of the vintage "Stop At Two" government population control poster that dates back to the '70s, which is when my parents decided to stop at two.

After dinner, I came home and passed out on the couch. I'm not so sure that's good for my digestive system or the fact that there's at least one skirt that I can't fit into anymore, but it sure as hell felt good.

So. Productive! See, I can be productive.

* See entry for October 21, 2003. (I still haven't figured out how to hyperlink to specific entries yet.)

** Eagle and Egret were the call signs we gave to the bride and groom at the October 18 wedding. T and I were Buttercup, in honour of the Powerpuff girl who dangles on the keychain that I carry our car key on (plus our car is dark green). Cousin Dan and wife were Toby and Sam. Yes, we watch way too much West Wing.


An email I wrote to an old friend today

I've always operated under the theory that a blog is partly so you can write once about all the stuff that you'd want to tell all your friends about in email anyway, so I present to you today's blog entry, courtesy of the email I just sent to an old friend and former college roommate (edited for confidentiality, of course):

" ... T just agreed to go on a NCC trip to India ... and he'll be gone for 10-14 days, depending on when they can get a flight back. It's a very last-minute thing because the guy ... only asked T two days ago! T is keen to go, of course, and I don't mind, but I'm feeling slightly blue at being home alone for about two weeks.


It's Deepavali today, so we are enjoying an extra day of stoning. We just got back from staying one night at the Copthorne Orchid, formerly known as the Novotel Orchid, where you had your wedding dinner. The place is still the same: a little rundown, quite three-star, worth it on a discount but certainly not full price. It felt like we were staying in a hotel in KL.

Tomorrow, we're going to buy sports shoes and then take a trip up to Sungei Buloh (near Kranji) to do some walking and amateur birdwatching (i.e. just looking at anything birdlike that pops up) and bonding with friends. I hope the weather's not too hot and the mosquitoes aren't too hungry.

Then, at night, we're going to this Thai-Indonesian place called Bumbu near Arab Street for a belated dinner celebration of my mom's birthday. It's a great restaurant, kinda homey and small, with lovely food that an Orchard Road restaurant would charge you through your nose for. We'll go there the next time you're in town. ... "

Alas, my friend is in town only slightly more frequently than the PAP calls for general elections, so I'm hoping Bumbu will still be in business and serving great food by that time.

The bit I failed to mention was why the dinner celebration is belated. See, my mom's birthday was the same week as the cousin's wedding, so she thought rather than having multiple family dinners in the same week, why not spread it out and also let us working children (who had significant though not absolutely essential roles in the wedding party) have a bit of a break. My mom is always thinking that we working children need a break.

We ate so much at the steamboat buffet last night and at brunch this morning that we're skipping dinner. I think I need to go buy some fruit, though. We only have two apples in the fridge. Plus T is itching to use the computer. Tah!


The clock is wrong

So says Wired, while The West Wing informs me that the map is wrong.

We're doomed.

How grassroots blogs are transforming presidential politics

A Wired column on how blogs may be transforming politics and communication.

Seeing as Singaporeans are among the most prolific LiveJournalers around, I'm just waiting to see when all our blogging brings about on the local political scene.


He said, she said

Other versions of the weekend wedding festivities:

My brother's version, as told very factually from behind the camera lens.

And my cousin's version, as told by someone who was recently the bride herself.

In other news, I realized this morning that I've irrevocably Put On Weight. There's this skirt I bought way back in 1998 when I needed it for work, that now requires me to hold my breath for a better part of a minute in order to zip it on, and once it's zipped feels like what a corset must've felt like for dainty well-brought-up ladies.

Therefore I promptly messaged T and good friend and announced that we need to exercise, stat. Of course, I must first purchase a pair of running shoes --- something I haven't done since 1998 either.

Grrr. Argh.

Nothing like a mindless middle management meeting to totally derail your day and squeeze you dry of any last desire to do anything productive.

I was having such a decent Monday before that too: had a good meeting out of the office in the morning, and it's always nice to get out of the office on a Monday; had a pretty good lunch with a colleague whom I hadn't really had the opportunity to get to know before this; had the good fortune to maintain a low profile all day and avoid the boss who was in a bad mood.

Now I'm just braindead and glad that I only have another two and a half days in this workweek. Why, you may ask? Well, Friday's Deepavali (aka Diwali aka the Hindu Festival of Lights), and Thursday afternoon I'm off work and we have Plans. So there is (faint) light at the end of this week's tunnel, for which I am already insanely grateful.


Thumb culture

Are you a member of thumb culture?

I totally want a T-shirt that says oyayubizoku.

TNP, TNP, quite contrary

Because The New Paper (or TNP, as we refer to it colloquially at work) prides itself on being such a quality newspaper, it saw fit to take it upon itself in today's edition to take the piss out of yesterday's local celebrity wedding (the Andrea de Cruz-Pierre Png festivities). The sub-headline says it all, really: "Fans wish Andrea & Pierre every happiness but wonder if they went overboard. Why so lavish a wedding when facing life-time [sic]of medical bills?"*

You know,
Regardless of whether they're celebrities,
Regardless of whether the bride brought her health condition upon herself by taking slimming pills,
Regardless of whether a lot of their wedding pizzazz was courtesy of "sponsors" and business/celebrity connections,
Regardless of whether they were gave the media free access to their wedding festivities,
Regardless of whether it's wise for any couple to spend so much money on one's day's festivities,
Regardless of whether they're really in love, or it's a celebrity thing, or whatever other reason one can imagine for two otherwise moderately talented and moderately interesting individuals to be so hugely popular and so lavishly married,

They're getting married. And people get married for lots of reasons and with lots of kerfuffle all the time. And there's very little to celebrate in life, so we celebrate weddings. And we generally exercise a little courtesy and decency (not that it takes much, mind you), and refrain from judging the couple getting married. We may personally object to their money, their motives --- well, just about anything to do with the wedding or the wedding couple, really. But it's their party, not ours, and it generally still just happens once in a person's life. So suck it up, leave your snide bones at home --- or hey, don't come at all! --- and play nice. Because it's not your day, it's theirs.


* I'd link to the article, except that it isn't available online. Yes, the paper actually charges money for its print version for this kind of quality reporting.

Got to check those text messages...

This could be a photo of me, except that I don't smoke, so it's unlikely that I'd be in that kind of proximity to burnt cigarette butts. But the obsessive compulsive checking for text messages? Totally me.

Feeling old

We spent all of yesterday running around at my cousin's wedding, and by 11 pm we were pooped. We were so pooped, we bailed on the last course of the wedding dinner and on the post-dinner festivities that we were invited to in the bridal couple's suite. (I hear it was a really nice suite too.) Perhaps we are getting too old for this.

Hrm. The G-man is planning to get married next year. That will potentially be another whirlwind of festivities.

Anyway, our fatigue notwithstanding, yesterday was a brilliant day:
  • Sunshine --- check.

  • Blushing bride who couldn't stop figeting once she was in her wedding gown and ready for the groom to pick her up --- check.

  • Groom who claimed he was feeling relaxed and made a fairly comfortable-sounding speech at the dinner, but who was probably freaked out of his mind (he's a doctor, I'm sure they train them to school their emotions to always sound relaxed and comfortable) --- check.

  • Frazzled older brother and sister-in-law of the bridal couple who were busy running around to keep everything in its place, based on their own hazy recollection of their wedding day almost five months ago --- check.

  • Beaming parents --- check.

T will have some photos up soon. He didn't take as many as he did for the other family wedding almost five months ago (see the fourth bullet point above), partly because he and my brother were sharing batteries and battery charger (my brother was anointed official film-maker for the day), but he's got some good ones.

I felt bad about bailing when we did, but we'd really hit our limit. My pet theory is that we weren't doing much at the dinner itself, so we didn't have any adrenaline to keep us going, and all that food from the nine-course dinner pretty much sped us on our way towards slumber.

The newlyweds are off on a 2½-week honeymoon. I wouldn't mind a 2½-week vacation right now myself. It was a shitty week at work, leading up to the wedding, which also accounts for why I also didn't post anything till now, and I'm so hoping that the faint cold that threatened my disposition on Friday morning will blossom into a full-fledged flu some time next week. (Not this week; we've got plans lined up next weekend too). Of course, I could always just take a walk in all the lovely rain we've been having (yesterday notwithstanding).

The weirdest part about the wedding is that my cousins now share the same wedding anniversary as local celebrities Andrea de Cruz and Pierre Png. I'm not sure how I'd feel about that, were it my big day.


My cousin's version of his first stag night

Funniest. Drunk. Posting. Ever.


In commiserating with my brother via ICQ on our mutual irregular blog updates, I said:

"That's the thing with working. After a while, you're like in this cycle of perpetual labor and nothingness."

And he agreed with me, after working just long enough to collect his very first paycheck.

We're doomed.


I've wanted to post for so long, yet not gotten within a click of it. No time at work, despite the BlogThis! button in my IE Google toolbar. No zest at home. And some time spent at non-Internet places (e.g. when I was at a course Mon-Wed and as a result spent more time than usual off the internet).

This is not to say that nothing has happened since we bought the fan. Here's a laundry list of the things we've been up to:

1. We witnessed the Birthday of the Ninth Emperor at his temple along Upper Serangoon Road. It rained, naturally, and I got to wear T's anorak, which made me finally realize how cool anoraks are (now I want one of my own...). In addition to the hordes of devotees, there was a bunch of tourists from the Inn Crowd there, and it was a prime photo opportunity for T, of course, despite the rain.

Going for the festival was cool because it was my first time in a Taoist temple, all this time I've lived in Singapore. My family's completely non-pagan, so I'd no idea what the festival was about, really, but at least now I can say I've been to one. And that we both had to diligently scrub our hair the next day to get rid of the smell of burning joss sticks.

2. It's been raining. A lot. I love it! Bring on the Vancouver weather! Although on days when it rains heavily, it's more like Chicago in the spring, but that's good too. Did I mention that I want an anorak?

The only problem with rain --- mild or in godlike fury --- is that I worry about how wet the cats that live beside the longkang are getting. The walkway and its environs are nice when the weather's dry, but that walkway doesn't offer any shelter from the rain once the wind picks up.

On the other hand, those cats have lived there for so long, I'm sure they can hack it.

3. I finally got around to fixing my hair. It's been growing out and growing out ragged for over a year, and my cousin's wedding's next week, so I figured that was a pretty good reason to finally make that hair appointment and keep to it. I got red highlights, just like I wanted, and it's great. The only thing about the salon where I get my hair done is that the lights in the salon are weak yellow lights, so I thought he'd misunderstood me and given me really faint red highlights. But once I saw my hair in actual daylight --- oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about! Much more exciting than brown.

I'll post a photo once T takes one, though I can't promise it won't be blurred or abstract --- he seems to be going through a phase with that.

4. Speaking of T, he's delayed in Malaysia at the moment. He went with X on one of those crazy offroading trips and I guess one or more of their convoy vehicles went further off the road than it should've, 'cause he reported the convoy's got some flat tire problems and he might not get in till after midnight. So I'm sleeping with my cellphone again (the usual routine when T's not in town).

5. The funny thing about shopping is that you can go out intending to capitalize on sales, and wind up with a couple of paltry items --- then another week, you just happen to be in town, and everything's on sale, and then you have to prioritize what you buy. [Warning: Airhead Alert!] So I bought a bag that I'd fallen instantly in love with, instead of a wallet that I was hemming and hawing over. And I elected Salman Rushdie's The Ground Beneath Her Feet instead of a sleeveless T-shirt. And finally I rejected the styling wax I was unsure of in favor of going home and not spending any more money.

Today I was tempted to go to Ikea, but when I drove past, the line for the carpark was painfully long, so I went straight home and didn't spend any more money (again). Yay me.

6. There's nothing like attending a course with a group of teachers who run the gamut of cynical to realistic to earnest to insecure to obsequious --- to make you realize the many occupational hazards of being a teacher. I mean, people complain about the marking and the kids and the parents and the stress and the varicose veins. No one talks about the fact that most teachers think they know best, can talk for hours on end, enjoy telling people what to do, find it nigh impossible to break the rules or to be irreverent, yet are themselves the very worst students when anyone else tries to teach them something.

Fortunately, I had 3 days doing group work with a group of teachers to remind one of that fact. The only person in my group I clicked with was someone not too reverent, not too idealistic, but not too chain-smoking cynical either. In fact, she's the first primary school teacher I've met that I could hold a decent conversation with (though admittedly I haven't socialized with many primary school teachers). She came up to me at the end of the course and said it was great working with me and I returned the compliment, natch, and that was really cool.

Maybe it's because when I saw her name, I didn't go, "Oh, like Celine Dion" as other tactless folks did.


This suffices for an update for now. Let me go figure out now how to work out a more disciplined mode of writing for online...