Achievements of the weekend

1. New nail polish, ergo: newly polished finger- and toenails. 'Bout time, too. The chipped red's been lingering for four weeks, which is about two weeks longer than I can usually tolerate.

2. Conversation with cousins I don't see very often, and a standing offer of free, and undoubtedly nice, accommodation in London. Tempting, tempting...

3. Hitting 110 words per minute on Typer Shark.

4. Appeasing the shopping urge with an hour of striding purposefully about Parkway Parade.

5. Lime and strawberry gelati.

6. A thunderstorm that came out of nowhere, making us all the more sleepy as we watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at Dan's this afternoon.

7. Not logging in to check work email --- not once! --- since leaving work yesterday.

8. A massive teppanyaki dinner with the parentals. Now if only we could get one of those metal cooking surfaces installed in our flat...

I apologise for listing, but it's a shortcut around actual writing, which I can't do right now because it's time to savour ST:TNG's "All Good Things" just one more time...


... leads to fear

I feel the beginnings of a twinge of something in the fleshy portion of my palm below my left thumb that makes my heart palpitate very fast and my mind shriek, "Carpal tunnel syndrome!"

Oh, and in case you were wondering? I am. At work. Still. On a Saturday.


It's not just blogging

I realised half a minute ago that I haven't checked my email personal since --- uh ---

Okay, upon logging in, I can confirm that I haven't checked it since Feb 16. I now have 50 new emails and 20 potential spam emails.

So the ugly truth comes out. I was neglecting my email too. On the plus side, I did make a lot more phone calls (including long-distance hi-ho's paid to friends in other timezones) the past few weeks.

Oh, wow. Nestled among the many mailing list emails that I received, were hale and hearty greetings from college friends. MY GOD HAS IT BEEN TEN YEARS ALREADY?!

Off to reminisce for a bit...

Too many ---

- days gone by without blogging.

- happy moments lost in the gloom of workdays that have all the consistency of hardening cement.

- friends not lunched with because work keeps getting in the way.

At least, if I post this, I'll start blogging again?


It is a sad, sad day when your colleague from another department buys you a packet of peanut pancakes out of the goodness of his heart, and you have to write yourself a Post-It note to remind yourself to eat it, because you know if you don't, the pancakes will sit forlornly in a corner of your cubicle and you'll only remember them when they're well and grotty after the fungi have completely taken over their very souls.

Struggling with talking points and not a speech today. Same difference, really. Maybe the peanuts will help.

Got irony? Read this

Rosmar led me to The final irony, by Zoe Williams at The Guardian.

I'm blogging it more so I remember to read it later, but I'm sure some of you guys out there will find it interesting too.


I need a happy post

This blog is so in need of a perky post, like the kind Sterrah absolutely excels at writing, but with the kind of week it's been, and the fact that I'm still stuck at work trying to heave writer's block out of the damn way so that I can finish the speech and go home, it's just NOT POSSIBLE.

I'm so bummed I'm ready to stop at Mac's on the way home for comfort food (the fries, not so much the flat burgers). And I was so grossed out by the whole idea of the film Super Size Me that I declared we would stop eating Mac's --- so you know how low I've sunk.

On the upside, T has been very sweet about reheating dinners for me (seeing as I've been getting home several hours after normal people eat their dinner). Go him!

While that's a sparkly silver lining to my utterly crappy week, I must now return to plod on with the speech, lest I truly find myself spending the night in the office. *growl*


My Sunday

2:50:38 PM
It's a Sunday and I'm at work. The worst part? There are four of us here at work.

On a Sunday. After Valentine's Day (not that I celebrate it, but I understand that some people do). Before a Monday, where there will be a new torrent of work.

And they wonder why I don't want to stay on for another year...

I suppose this is the part where my life remotely resembles the kind of schedule they keep on the (fictional!!) The West Wing. However, the important difference is that those West Wing folks know they've only got four, or now eight, years on the job to achieve something. We four Monkey Minions here? Nothing like that, and certainly no Jed Bartlet at our helm.

And we're still here.

Okay, now to actually do some work while I'm here...

3:13:44 PM
And now there are five, five of us at work on a Sunday. That's half the people in my department, and it's not like we're gearing up for a major event tomorrow or anything time-sensitive like that.

The next time you need evidence that crazy Asian people work too hard, come look me up. Plenty of evidence in my corner of the working world.

6:55:57 PM
Must ... stop ... reading about Harry Potter ... and ... write ... speech ...

(Not to be confused with reading Harry Potter itself, which I will most certainly pick up again on the train home from work --- once I finish this speech, dammit.)

7:59:28 PM
I'm leaving now. I'll be back here in 13 hours. Bah.

On the bright side, I wasn't alone and we three who are left are now going for dinner. Misery lurves company!

Edited to add:
I merged all four posts into one because I think it reads better that way --- which maybe undermines the whole point of blogging, but whatever.

The price of things

We were at the grocery store yesterday, and just as it was our turn to check out, I realised I ought to get a new toothbrush. So I hollered to T to grab me one ("preferably pink!") and whatever he came back with, I just tossed it into the pile of groceries being rung up.

$6.66 for a toothbrush?!

Admittedly, I hadn't changed my toothbrush in a longer time than even the most forgiving dentist would consider hygienic. But when did toothbrushes become that expensive? When I looked at the description on the packaging later, it sounded to me like my new toothbrush had the bristles you'd expect of any ordinary toothbrush, and not much else. The description also observed that dentists recommend changing one's toothbrush once every three months.

At $6.66 a pop?!



I just typed 'Bartlet' instead of 'Bartley'. Go me!



Problem: Not drinking a drop of liquid between waking at 7:30 am and the first sip at 1ish.

Extent of the problem: When I finally went to get water at 1ish, I washed my mug thoroughly and was halfway back to my cubicle with an empty mug before I realised something was, well, missing.

Result: Total listlessness achieved by 3 pm.

Remedy: Forging through the skin-piercing mid-afternoon heat to a late lunch with a close friend, where the rojak* was oddly rejuvenating. I was bouncing around the office for the rest of the afternoon, which I'm sure my colleagues found way more disturbing than I did.

* Rojak: A salad of mixed vegetables taken with sauce (taken from the Coxford Singlish Dictionary). It looks like it's just a brown mess on a plate, but it's very tasty.

It is very depressing to realise that two of your best friends are currently in Hawai'i for a third friend's wedding, while you are mired in your cubicle, contemplating the lack of meaning in life.

If whimpering weren't so unsightly, I would do it more loudly.


I've just had lunch. No, the time this post was logged is not wrong; it really is closing to 3:30 pm and I've just finished lunch.

Lunch was chicken mayonnaise on toast, two cream puffs (offered in lieu of potato crisps, so I went for it because the crisps aren't very nice) and a strawberry milkshake.

Total amount of fat consumed: More than I need for the week.

Do I care? Yes, mews the inner me, the real me, that keeps hoping there is a way out of this tunnel.

WHATEVER, crows the outstressed, outwitted and generally out-of-sorts rest-of-me.

On the bright side (there always has to be one, right, even if it's just phosphorescent pinpricks on the tunnel ceiling), I learned that Baywatch is shown on TCS 5 on Wednesday afternoons, and there's nothing that derails your train of thought faster than seeing a very young David Hasselhoff --- okay, not as young as his Knight Rider days, but Hobie was still a kid in this episode --- poised on the side of a lifeguard rescue boat that's whizzing dramatically across the ocean.


Getting into the spirit

Will be you be my anti-valentine? (link courtesy of my fellow anti-Valentine's buddy, Rosmar).

I'm a big fan of "Please don't reproduce" myself.

Lessons learned after returning from vacation

1. Give friends pretty presents that they'll enjoy from where you went on vacation --- there's no better pick-me-up.

2. Read Harry Potter on the way to and from work, so that life at least seems a lot lighter and tolerable.

3. Don't feed the trolls.

4. When the going gets glum at work, fortify yourself with a brownie to keep the brain active and the fingers typing.

5. Put important TV programmes into your PDA, so you don't forget to tape them. (Sadly, I have to do this even for programmes that I love, like The West Wing.)


Muggling through the day

Time of arrival at work: 8:40 am
Time of departure from work: 8:10 pm

'Nuff said.

At home, a lovely surprise: T had cleaned up! Most of our dining table surface can be seen again. The top of the shoe rack beside the front door is perfectly neat, as I always hoped it would be. Our shoes are in tidy rows once more. And after I got home, he was sorting through all his photographs and negatives, and put everything away in the new cabinet we bought.

Happiness is a neat domicile. Truly.

Okay, to be perfectly honest, the domicile isn't perfectly neat. I have to clean my crap off the floor/table where T left it once he'd identified it as my crap. But he shelved away or tossed out most of the original crap, which was his crap, so we are, overall, fairly crap-free.

I'm so excited! We've got to invite my parents over, so that they can see what the place looks like when it's clean, and my friends who are back from the US, who are the main reason I chivvied T into cleaning up, because they have two kids under the age of three for whom our previously untidy apartment would be a minefield. Once I get my crap cleaned up, maybe our place will be sufficiently childproof so they can come over for a few hours. They'll be the first children to step into the apartment --- ever. Can you just imagine it?

I've been talking to Sprite, who's had her first encounter with a vicious and stupid she-troll. That wasn't all we talked about, but here's the best nugget from the conversation:

Sprite: BTW, 65 million youths have internet access
Me: God help us.

To round up this entry of the twentysomething-married-couple-who-still-live-like-college-kids, let me recite my dinner menu for tonight:

(+) 1 mug of jasmine tea
(+) About 1/5 of your standard block of brie
(+) 3 Jacob's crackers
(+) 4 slices of kueh lapis (thank you, Sprite's mom!)

That was my dinner menu. T's was nonexistent. He said he wasn't hungry.

Are you still going to ask us why we don't have kids?



It occurs to me that I bitch too much about work, and that's really not what my life is about, so I'm going to talk about some very good conversations I had this week instead.

On Monday, there was the totally-out-of-the-blue conversation with my old college buddy (there's a phrase I never imagined myself using) Kumiko. Since I didn't have to go to work, it being a public holiday in lieu of Hari Raya Haji which fell on Sunday, I thought it would be prime time to call some friends in the US.

Kumiko and I gabbed for about half an hour --- okay, closer to an hour --- about my work (bleah), her studies (bleah, since she's got a job offer all squared already), her boyfriend (yum), my husband (officially unemployed) and miscellaneous other things. I didn't know this before, but as a Wharton student, she gets to read Wharton applications and give her five cents' worth (more likely fifty thousand dollars' worth) of whether they should get an interview or not. Nice perk, although, like a teacher has to read even the crappy essays from her class, my friend has to read even the most unbelievably lame applications in the pile.

On Wednesday evening, my aunt who lives nearby dropped in on us as we were having a late dinner at the coffeeshop downstairs. She was feeling chatty, and one hour later, we had covered her daughter's wedding dinner in Malaysia (that's the same cousin whose wedding dinner I emcee'd on January 4), her recent survey of the local car market, my grandfather's latest exploits and other family miscellany. It may not sound like much, but there's something very relaxing about having that kind of twisty-turny family conversation over a couple of plates of hot food amidst a comfortable, comforting evening breeze.

Friday night, I was talking to Sprite, who's trying to lure me to work with her next year. It's highly tempting (and scary), but I've also got something else in mind. Anyhow, the point of it is that though this was work-related, it was also an excellent conversation, which I appreciate because Sprite and I don't actually talk on the phone very much. Most of the time, we either SMS or we're there in person. Talking on the phone made me feel like I was sixteen again. Mmmmmm.

Today, I got to talk to another college buddy (there's that phrase again) Elaine, whom I failed to get on Monday because I'd typo'ed her telephone number into my PDA and hence was in fact calling the wrong number. Today, we played a little phone tag, then she called me successfully and we got all caught up again. She gets to play maid of honour in our friend's wedding on V-day in Hawai'i. I get to probably watch the wedding video when the same friend gets to Singapore the following week for the local wedding dinner. I know Elaine got the better deal, but then I'm not about to cough up the kind of money it would take to get T and me to Hawai'i for a week for a wedding.

Which reminds me: I finally got off my procrastinating ass and did all the sums for our Vietnam/Bangkok trip today. The total cost (airfare, accommodation, everything) was just under $2,000 per person. Not bad for 17 days, huh?

Catching up

... as opposed to catching the cold that is circulating among my colleagues like a vengeful wraith.

So far, there is much work, the usual administrative disorganisation --- perhaps even more than usual, with the forthcoming personnel changes --- and insufficient time for lunch or, really, anything other than work.

On the home front, we have new furniture! So our DVDs no longer live on the floor, our fantasy books have relocated from the computer/book room to the living room (since they're the most frequently reread anyway), and T's motorcycle boots can finally reside in a cupboard instead of collecting dust on the floor.

We actually ordered the furniture last year, after Xmas, but we couldn't get it till this week because one of the pieces were out of stock. It's from Picket and Rail, which means that the wood is darker than the average Ikea and hopefully stronger too.

Off to bacon and eggs. We did a wee bit of grocery shopping yesterday, after I cajoled T to walk with me from Chinatown to City Hall. Unfortunately, that also means our groceries cost more than they should. Maybe I'll hit NTUC (the local 'budget' supermarket) in the afternoon to atone for that. I'm just sick of eating at the coffeeshop downstairs all the time.


First day back

Complete unwillingness to wake up when the alarm rang, even though I wasn't short of sleep --- check.

Sighting of cat that lives by the MRT station, on my way to said station --- check.

Half a day to clear three weeks' worth of email --- check.

Almost every colleague, including my boss, asking if I ate chicken in Vietnam --- check.

An hour after work to finish something that wasn't urgent, but that needs to be done sooner or later, and will indeed improve my quality of life at work if I finish it soon --- check.

An acute cramp in my right foot as it finally protested having to wear heels for the first time after twenty-four days of flopping around in flats --- check.

Two soft meows, aimed at the MRT cat, to which it whipped its head around, then proceeded to ignore me --- check.

Maybe settling into ye olde work routine won't be so jarring to my system after all.

(Now that I've jinxed myself, stay tuned for tomorrow's episode: "When Work Is Hell".)

He's popped the cherry!

Without further ado (but with quite a flourish), I present to you my husband's blog:

Terse & At Large

Hee hee.


It began with off-and-on dreams about work this past week --- yes, even when I was still a timezone away. They culminated in a too-real dream last night that had me convinced that I was already back at work and catching up with colleagues on what had transpired with my projects in my absence.

How little did I know.

Today, the colleague who's my closest friend at work rang and updated me on all the goings-on from the three weeks I was away. Every time I come back from leave, the power positions have shifted: there's a new big boss/medium boss/intermediate boss/bosslet/reorganisation/restructuring/other nonsense I have to digest in five seconds while all my colleagues had at least five days to figure it out. Not that it's ever affected me adversely, but once, just once, I'd like to come back from leave and find everything just as I'd left it.

Perhaps I'm not so unsuited to the civil service after all.

Anyways, it sounds like tomorrow in particular will be interesting. And possible every day after that, until I finally leave this joint. It was enough to give me the tinglies --- and not the good kind --- in my stomach after I got off the phone with the colleague. And to make me really not want to go to work tomorrow. Not that I wanted to in the first place, ever since the vacation hit its second half and I knew it was closer to the end than to the beginning.

I must have courage. And also my Clie, which has been restored *fingers crossed* through a little crafty Hotsync'ing, to dupe it into accepting data that it didn't want to a few weeks ago.

If I have any free braincells tomorrow (in between clearing three weeks' worth of work email), I'll think about how I'm going to write about my vacation without alienating my reading audience. I promise.


Resuming old form

Coming back from a long vacation is like settling back into one's corporeal form after flitting free of gravity or restraint.

In other words, I'm not really ready to write a proper blog post yet. Maybe after dinner... we'll see how inspirational the yusheng is...