Welcome to another account of a Lazy Day, in our current special season of Lazy Daze that is proving so popular at this time of the year.

I know all this talk about lazing around must be generating a good bit of envy --- particularly in a certain ex-teacher now in London who's facing far larger piles of homework than I have ever seen in my life, as well as for my brother, who seems to be busier in his senior year of college than I ever was --- so I'll keep this part brief.

I've discovered eBay. I know this is a bit late, for someone who surfs the internet as much as I do, but I have. It's quite a lot of fun. I haven't bought anything yet, though I'm watching a couple of things. It helps that I limit my interests to items being sold in Singapore, because most people seem to be selling anime DVDs, Hello Kitty toys and paraphernalia, Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts and music CDs. It's not terribly exciting so far.

I've also been sneaking around with Terence's presents, stashing them where I hope he won't find them (but he keeps looking anyway) and locking myself in the bedroom to wrap them. This is way too stressful. Now I know why families need bigger houses --- to hide stuff from the kids (and probably not just presents either).

Oh, and the eye is all better. I've stopped taking the medication and using the drops. As long as I don't rub it in my sleep again, it should be fine.

Gratuitous link of the day (which is long overdue, like three weeks overdue, but what the heck): my best friend (and bridesmaid) Tris has set up a webpage and she has fingerpuppets! Go see!

Terence and I were so bored tonight, I conceded that we would watch Enemy at the Gates, a DVD which arrived last week with Willow. Willow is still the far better movie, but this one was not bad, once I got over all the fake blood and fake bodies lying all over the place. I have to admit, all I kept thinking throughout the film was how much fun they must've had building the sets for it: all this clutter lying around that the set designers could rearrange to their satisfaction --- how awesome.

Oh, and label me ignorant, but I didn't know the Russians gave up on Stalingrad after the way. I get all the -grads mixed up.

I've started reading The Corrections, but I haven't gotten to a point where I'm really into it yet. I think the problem is that whenever I sit down on our couch, I pick up our book of crossword puzzles and/or turn on the TV, which precludes any other activity. I gotta break that habit. The Corrections, along with Don DeLillo's Underworld, is too big to carry with me to read on the train. If I don't read them this holidays, along with The Return of the King before the big movie release on December 20, I'm pretty much screwed.

Tomorrow will not be a Lazy Day but a Last Minute Preparations for Terence's Birthday Day. There may not be another journal entry till Sunday or Monday. You have been warned.


My eye is better. It took several hours for the puffiness to go down, but it looks almost normal now. I'm going to have to keep using the drops and taking the pills, but at least I can go outside without being self-conscious about it. Tomorrow is another errands day, mostly because Terz's big day is coming up and he'll be neatly occupied with NCC stuff all day.

[NCC, for those of you not in the know, stands for the National Cadet Corps. It's a common extracurricular activity in secondary schools here. This is how Terz describes it to non-Singaporeans: a paramilitary youth organization run by the Singapore Armed Forces. It's not as freakish or Communist or totalitarian as it sounds, I swear.]

I finally got to see some of Tenchi Muyo in Love 2 today. Unfortunately, because I was half-asleep, I only watched bits and pieces totalling about half the film before I fell completely asleep. I suppose it was the inevitable plot direction for Tenchi Muyo, since all it revolves around a young man who happens to have four attractive young alien women fall into his lap (sometimes quite literally) one day, and all of them have the hots for him, of course. I'm still not sure why it's such a popular anime series.

Tonight's Buffy episode was the one where Buffy finally learns that Dawn is the key. I like the Dawn subplot. It'a nice to center on the family dynamic, after a whole season at college when Buffy's mom Joyce was hardly seen or acknowledged as part of her life. I've never had a little sister, and I always claimed I would've preferred one to the little brother I got --- this was when he was as irritating to me as Dawn is to Buffy --- but I'm starting to think it wouldn't've made much difference.

Gosh, today was really a nothing day.

So I was going to go to work today and be productive, but I woke up with an eye infection in my right eye. Poop. I know I rubbed my eye in my sleep, but I didn't expect it to get all puffy and such. I shall spare you any further gory details. Suffice to say that applying a hot compress (aka a clean towel soaked in microwaved hot water) reduced some of the swelling, so that I didn't feel too embarrassed about going downstairs to see the doctor. I admit that having a doctor in the next building wasn't a key attraction for me when we decided to buy this apartment, but it's turning out to be a godsend.

The doctor said it was some virus and gave me eyedrops and some pills and told me to come back tomorrow if the swelling isn't reduced. Ick. He also warned me not to rub my other eye. Terz says maybe I should start wearing eye patches so that I don't inadvertently rub them in my sleep.

So instead of going to work, I have seen the doctor and spent several hours roleplaying. (Obviously, my vision isn't impaired at all, despite the discomfort of a mildly swollen right eye that looks like someone hit me.) Now I'm going to eat lunch and then put more eyedrops and maybe do some crosswords.

Ah -- crosswords. The poor (wo)man's amusement.


Terz gave up on Kull and is now playing his usual soccer game on the computer. I'm going to see if LiveJournal is working and if I can read my friends' journals.

By the way, I failed to mention that Terz and I spent Saturday night watching The Karate Kid II on cable. We didn't heckle all of it, but there were some super-cheese moments. People used to wear clothes like that? And why doesn't Mr Miyagi speak in Japanese when he's in Japan, since he clearly can still speak the language? And if Mr Miyagi left Okinawa when he was about eighteen and moved to the United States, I don't think he could've fought in World War Two and received a Medal of Honor 'cause only nisei could have citizenship and enlist, not issei. Or maybe he fought in Korea or *gasp* Vietnam. And why didn't Mr Miyagi bring his girlfriend back to the US? They were getting along all right, much better than Daniel-san and Tamlyn Tomita. I totally forgot that the latter's character name was Kumiko --- which is funny because I now know one now (who is way cooler than the movie character) and I didn't when I first saw the film.

One thing I did like about the film was that during certain conversations between Mr Miyagi and his girlfriend, the language was very simple, very pared down because she was speaking in ostensibly a foreign language --- and those were some of the best scenes in the film, the best bits of the love story. Whoever directed the film should've taken a cue from those scenes: less is more, what is unsaid is often more important than what is said, and old people falling in love are way more interesting than teenagers running around in a Japanese village.

It's not New Year's yet, but here's my resolution: never attempt recipes that don't have precise cooking times.

The chicken didn't turn out well. I mean, it was okay, but it wasn't really worth the wait (the wait being a total of about one and a half hours' baking time). Furthermore, the recipe explicitly stated that I should use chicken breasts, but they weren't very tender by the time they got baked. Grrrrr. We were supposed to eat, then go collect photographs from the developing place at Parkway Parade, but the chicken took so long that Terz went to get the photos first.

So that recipe is going firmly into the trash.

Since dinner, I have showered and surreptitiously called Miffy to sort out some ideas for the aforementioned birthday. Terz is watching Kull the Conqueror now. It's a sign of how bad TVWorks is (it's the 'new' channel in town) that they're showing that on a Monday night. I think my marital vow requires me to now go watch it with him --- right after I upload this file, though.

While the chicken's cooking, I can catch up on my journal-writing. It's been a busy several-days, so I'm going to be nice and do this chronologically.


First thing in the morning (i.e. 10ish), I went to try collecting that free lipstick I was talking about the last time. I am happy to report that I arrived at Metro Marina just before 11:30 am and the salesgirl on duty was quite happy to give me a freelipstick in exchange for my coupon --- she didn't even check that the latter was duly filled out with my name and contact information. Damn, I should've pretended to be Madonna or something. I'm not sure if the dry look she gave me was for the fact that I was there to get the lipstick before lunchtime, which is when I figure they get most of their business.

I was only going to get lipstick at Metro, but then a red dress on a mannequin caught my attention --- I have a weakness for red dresses --- and in my search to find the dress among the clothing racks, I came across so many other cute things I wanted. Who knew that Metro (which is like the equivalent of Sears or J.C. Penney's in the US) was actually stocking pretty hip stuff these days? Even their shoe section tempted me. But I forebore --- mostly because the red dress in question turned out to be $169 and I wouldn't pay that for a dress unless I was gonna be someone's bridesmaid or something --- and I left the store with only my free lipstick.

I can't really detail what I was doing over the next few hours, just in case Terz reads this. Suffice to say, it had to do with research for his imminent birthday.

Anyway, I eventually hauled myself down to school just after lunchtime and rewarded myself with another Bundaberg ginger beer from 7-Eleven along the way. That makes three Bundabergs in as many days, though alas, I didn't continue the trend through the weekend.

At school, I wrote my last two college recommendations, cleared some minor paperwork I'd been avoiding for the past month, finished up around 4 pm as the rain was tapering to a halt, and zipped down to Borders.

I've been to Borders a bazillion times since it opened (in '98? '99?) and it's become sorta ho-hum now. But some kind of consumer guardian spirit must have been guiding me through my visit on Friday evening before I found so much neat stuff. They finally have copies of Jonathan Frantzen's The Corrections --- which I've wanted since Salon reviewed it and that was way before Oprah dissed it and then it won the National Book Award --- and they even have it in paperback. They had loads of Harry Potter stuff, of course, but they also had up to Book the Eighth of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. These books can't quite be described, but suffice to say they're wickedly funny in their own way and a delightful anecdote to all the feelgood stuff that's floating around --- for kids and adults --- these days. There's some other neat stuff which again I can't name till after Terence's birthday this weekend, but best of all, I snagged a gift for my colleague. It's a new book by an author he enjoys and even though I'm the one leaving the school, not him, he's old enough to be my father and I learned so much from working with him these past two years, that I feel I should get him something --- and now I have.

Thankfully, with the assistance of the Borders vouchers I was given by the English department as a farewell gift, the damage to my wallet for the abovementioned purchases (and then some) wasn't too hazardous.

After Borders, I grabbed a quick bite from McDonald's, then went over to Action for Aids. They're a small local group that I've been meaning to volunteer with since last year, but although I've been on their e-mail list the entire year, something always came up to keep me from going down. But their latest e-mail caught me post-exams and everything, so I determined that I would go down, even if it's just to help pack magazines. Which is what I did for three hours. We had to assemble flyers with a magazine and slip it into a plastic "printed matter" envelope, then affix (I love that word) address labels and stamps to them all. There were five of us working and we did about a thousand that night. It was neat. I like doing menial tasks like that. Miffy and I frequently say that our calling is to be receptionists and secretaries, not teachers or civil servants, and it honestly is true. There's something very therapeutic about efficiently packing and labelling magazines --- or any other office work --- that keeps me quite happy.

I think not being responsible for a teenager's examination grades and wondering if you've taught them anything of value also helps.


The AFA work took me till nine-thirty, then I headed home to meet Terence and we went down to Zouk winebar to meet X and some people. What a mistake that was --- mostly because hanging around the winebar for about two hours made us feel really, really old. We weren't quite the oldest people in the place, but the average age of men and women has really gone down since I first went there. It didn't help that the people we were with were celebrating someone's twenty-fifth birthday. Twenty-five. I remember that age because I thought to myself: wow, I've seen a quarter of a century. Now when people ask me my age, I have to stop and think about it and calculate backwards to 1974. (I just did it again. I'm twenty-seven and then some.) And most people there that night were under twenty-five, I swear. And most of them, as is the case at many Singapore nightspots, were single --- which means as a married person, it's kinda fun and low-stress and you can bitch about the horrible things some people wear, but it's also not as fun as if you were single. Not that I would've said more than two words to most of the guys there that night. They seemed to range between the type in their early twenties wearing surfer clothes (when will that trend go away?) to too-smooth and too-old successful executives trying to pick up women in their early twenties (yuck).

But the birthday girl was happy and X was wearing a bright red shirt with some blue that made him look exactly like a Caltex gas station attendant, so the night had its moments.


I went down to AFA again to help finish up the magazines. There were about 2,500 that had to go out in the mail on Monday, and we finished them all over the afternoon. There was a young man there who was a first-time volunteer as well, so I didn't feel too weird about it. He was hung over, though. I'm not sure I'd want to help pack 1,500 magazines when I'm hungover.

I tried to drive into town and find parking to go shopping for birthday-related things mid-afternoon, but what a mistake that was. Parking was impossible to find --- though I didn't try very hard because I sensed the futility of things after I hit a bleak traffic jam just after exiting the CTE at Cairnhill Place --- and people were, as usual, driving poorly as well. I wound up driving home, finding Terz conveniently taking a nap, leaving him a note and heading to town on the MRT. That worked much better. I roamed around for several hours, wandering into different malls, and bought us some sushi for dinner. Downtown was crazy-full of people, but maybe it didn't seem so bad because I wasn't driving anymore.

I got home, we had sushi and some Chinese herbal chicken soup my mom had made for us, and watched Survivor. Clarence got voted off, finally. I feel sorry for the guy. He ate one can of beans, hankered after some fried chicken and they never let him forget it. Survivor is a cruel, cruel game.

We didn't go out that night. I was too beat from all the walking around. I did, however, turn on the TV at about midnight and there was this wacky show Blind Date on. Two strangers go out on a blind date, the cameras follow them, and the footage is edited with all these speech balloons and stuff that make would-be wisecracks at the hapless couple. The wisecracks weren't all that funny and the host was boring with an extra helping of bland, but there was something really silly about the whole thing. I guess I have zero sympathy for people who get themselves involved with television programs like that. Which brings me to the subject of Who Dares, Wins.

Who Dares, Wins is a really awesome Australian program. It goes around with cameras, too, and with two kinds of dares: the kind where the host is in a shopping mall and randomly dares people to do goofy things, like deliver a singing telegram in a godawful outfit or dunk your head into a tank of green dye in search of a fifty-dollar bill or eat a whole chunk of garlic whole. All the dares are optional and there's always lots of footage of people saying "No way!" but then there are the few that agree to do it in the hope of making a quick twenty or fifty or hundred bucks. The second kind of dare is the kind where you write in and nominate someone (usually a husband or a brother, once in a while a mother or a wife) and they whisk the unsuspecting person off to do something really scary, like leap off a fifty-meter bridge or pull off some kind of stunt in a demolition derby or whatever.

We know Who Dares, Wins is not American because it doesn't offer you any more than a couple of hundred dollars, even for the scariest dare. It also always gives a person a chance to back out, and in fact, for the latter kind of dare, the host has to do the dare instead and if s/he doesn't, the would-be victim collects the money anyway. (I'd like to see Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst survive forty-whatever days in the Sahara, if they're not voted off at the first tribal council.) And it's all fun. It's nothing like Fear Factor and the hosts are so goofy and earnest (also attractive, in the case of Tania, who was alas wearing a dark-colored T-shirt, though still a tight one, in last night's episode instead of her requisite white one) that you can't help liking them and playing along. They're truly an Australian institution at this point.

The only reason I'm going on about Who Dares, Wins is we watched it while over at a friend's place last night and it's been a while since I saw it and it's so much more fun than current American reality TV without being quite as embarrassing as Candid Camera and its ilk either.

And you know, that's really all I have to say about that. I realize there's a lot of buildup and not much of a point, but in between checking on my chicken (that's not cooking fast enough!) and writing this, my mind's a little scattered.

Okay, Sunday:

We didn't do much. Mucked around online as usual, Terz was playing his football game as usual, we skipped lunch as usual, and I took a nap later. The only reason I got up from the nap was to go over to the abovementioned friend's place for dinner. I made some garlic bread for that because I figured we would need something to tide us over till the pizza arrived. Plus garlic bread is easy peasy to make.

The dinner was supposed to be a party, but it never quite got off the ground at the guest-list stage. So it was five of us having pizza and drinking oodles of vodka drinks, then more people came by to hang out, and we watched whatever was on TV (Who Dares, Wins, C.S.I., some of Deuce Bigalow and a bit of Zorro). We finished a whole bottle of Absolut between us, which is not bad, although nowhere near the heavy drinking we were attempting, since my friend had about fifteen bottles of hard liquor and about as many bottles of wine as well. (Her family discovered the size of the entire stash when they spring-cleaned recently. Oh, and her family was out of town when we were there drinking their vodka.)

The funny thing about this journal entry is that the funnest part of the last three days was Sunday's dinner, but it sounds like it was the boring-est. Which just goes to show the futility of these darn journals.

I am now going to stare threateningly at the chicken till it cooks, dammit.


The latest news in Singapore: a bunch of Starhub Mobile users failed to pay their bills for ninety days, despite reminder letters and reminder SMSes, and so their phone service was turned off today. As a result, Starhub customer service centers were flooded with people trying to pay their bills and complaining that their phones were off and that they were losing clients and terribly inconvenienced as a result. There was footage of hapless Starhub customer service representatives trying to placate aggrieved customers.

Now the news was clearly trying to paint Starhub as the bad guy --- which reiterates that there is no such thing as unbiased news coverage from Mediacorp --- but DUDE. Pay your bills. If you don't pay your bills, technically, the mobile phone service provider can turn off your phone the day after it's due and the payment wasn't received. They gave you NINETY days. Get over yourselves.

Which just goes to prove to you what big fat schmucks some people can be.

I was laughing so hard at the news coverage and then I had to come in here and tell Terz and laugh some more. I mean, when I saw the 'preview' footage, I thought Starhub had screwed up and turned off a bunch of mobile phone services by mistake. But no, it was quite clearly a case of the customer being very, very wrong. The Starhub spokeswoman, when interviewed, said something about reviewing the situation to try to prevent a similar one from recurring. She should've just said, "If they'd paid their bills like they're supposed to, like their service contract requires them to, there wouldn't have been any problems. All our punctually paying customers aren't here complaining, aren't they?"

Maybe me going into Public Affairs next year is not such a good idea.

* * *

Considering that I didn't go to work today, it has been a busy day. Well, a busy afternoon-evening. I was in the mood to try out this recipe for pork chops, so I took the MRT (aka subway) to the grocery store two stops down at Paya Lebar. I had my grocery list on my Palm, but I also wound up browsing the shelves and buying all sorts of other things too, like cheese slices and Campbell's chunky soup. I love grocery shopping and it's even more fun when the store is virtually empty, as it was today.

Eventually, I realized that if I was having this much trouble hauling my shopping basket around the store, I was going to have even more trouble getting the groceries home. So I took out the one bottle of Thai chilli sauce and went to the cashier. I wound up with five plastic bags' worth of stuff. I thought my arms were about to fall off halfway on the walk home from the MRT station --- I have no arm muscles except the minimal needed to keep my arms joined to my body, I swear --- but I made it home okay. I unpacked everything and sat down with my Bundaberg ginger beer and rested for an hour.

(And people ask me why I don't exercise regularly.)

Then I made food. Besides the pork chops, there was corn and garlic bread. X came over for dinner too. Fortunately, everything turned out well. I was afraid it wouldn't 'cause it was a brand-new recipe we'd never tried before, plus I am an ordinarily not a good cook, plus I cut a few corners, plus I got worried at the end 'cause after I'd dished out the pork chops, I was supposed to let what was left of the sauce thicken for another ten minutes over the heat, and even with my rudimentary cooking skills, I knew that ten minutes more in that pan would leave us with no gravy, so I improvised. It all turned out well (I have to say it again because I say it so rarely when I make the meal). Bonus: I got the garlic bread and corn hot and ready in time for the pork chops too, which rarely happens when I make food. Terz liked it. X liked it. X took the recipe home. No one has thrown up yet. Yay me!

Some time over the next few days, I'm trying out a simple recipe for Greek homestyle chicken. Wish me luck.

The cooking (and the eating) completely perked me up, because before I went to the grocery store, I had to do battle with a few recalcitrant cockroaches. *sigh* That always bums me out. I love everything about our apartment except the fact that we cannot get rid of the roaches. They just keep crawling in from drain pipes and under the door and so forth. Bah. Anyone got a foolproof solution? One of my students says it's just part and parcel of HDB living --- even if you keep a clean apartment, there's always the dustbin chute and other little holes in the wall that they come from. Double-bah.

But. I am happy. I cooked successfully! And I got to laugh at silly Starhub Mobile subscribers. And I got to watch The Powerpuff Girls for the third day in a row. And Terz bought Her World (by mistake, because we thought this girl we knew was in it) which came with neato Christmas gift catalogs and such. I usually don't read any lifestyle/women's magazines because their lack of intellect makes me feel sick, but I admit that I indulged in buying Elle last week as a post-examination de-stresser (plus it came with a free tote bag!) and now there is Her World as well (with another free tote bag!) and depending on what time I get up tomorrow, I might stop by Metro on the way to school (not that it is on the way to school) so that I can try to get free Revlon lipstick using a Her World coupon.

It's the holidays. I can be as ditzy as I want to.


I begin with a retraction for yesterday's entry: it was not in fact my dad's cellphone's miscall that woke me yesterday, but the distinctly annoying and unending sound of drilling from some other apartment in the neighborhood. Someone must be doing renovations again. The funny thing is, while I can ignore the sound of drilling at other times of the day --- and it's an apartment that's in an adjacent building, not my own, so it's really not that loud --- the moment it stirred me out of sleep yesterday morning, I just could not make it go away.

Today has been gray and rainy. Actually, it's been exquisitely gray and rainy in Singapore of late, which reminds me of the weather in Vancouver, except that in between the extended gray periods, the sun bursts out with great fury to remind us that this is the tropics, and that dispels any tenuous illusion of the Pacific Northwest. But I appreciate the rain. I don't even mind carrying an umbrella out with me --- and it's not just because I have a maroon umbrella now.

Today it threatened to rain all day and the clouds finally unleashed their version of fury at about 4 pm, when Terz and I were finishing up Willow. It stormed like crazy for a little while, then pattered off to an insistent rain, through which we drove to Charlie's for dinner, and eventually wound down to a drizzle while we were eating; it had stopped raining entirely by the time we left Charlie's for home. Nevertheless, the weather was cool enough for my friend Kay to be wearing a jacket. (Of course, if I had thrown on a jacket before we left, Terz would have given me an incredulous look and the heavens would have retorted by turning off the rain and turning it into a hot and humid tropical night.)

Watching Willow made me feel zesty (TM Keet) about roleplaying again. For one thing, I enjoy Willow on its own; I can see how it's not perfect, but I don't see why it's dissed so often, either, even when George Lucas' involvement is factored in. But watching some of the scenes of muck and mud and dirt hovels made me think about how much more I could do with roleplay if I just took the time to imagine things properly. However, I have resolved to go to work tomorrow, so I doubt I shall have time to indulge my newfound roleplay enthusiasm until the weekend, which is when the Americans would have recovered from their Thanksgiving feasts anyway.

Speaking of which, I saw a news clip yesterday of Dubya pardoning a turkey, which made me think of that episode of The West Wing when CJ gets to decide which turkey gets pardoned, and it made me smile --- even though it was a news clip about Dubya, which really shouldn't make anyone smile, especially he didn't look all that much smarter than the turkey the whole time.

Tonight was officially Carnivore Night at Charlie's --- well, it was for our table. Three of us had the mixed grill and Terz had a Porterhouse steak. Oh, and we had the requisite Charlie's chicken wings too. I feel a bit sick now. The thing about the Charlie's mixed grill is that it always disappoints me: some piece of meat won't be done as well as the others, plus the fried egg always tastes funny 'cause of the kind of oil they cook it in, and the meat sauce is frankly quite odd and I'd rather dunk my meat in chilli sauce --- but I keep ordering it anyway, despite past disappointments. Maybe it's because the mixed grill is only available on Wednesday nights. Maybe it's because Terz used to rave about it so much that some part of my brain believes it must be good. But I just keep ordering it, even though halfway through tonight's meal, I muttered to myself, "I should've had the fish'n'chips."

Charlie's was quiet but I blame it on the rain. (It's an outdoors/al fresco place, so there's no real point driving all the way there if it's raining, except for hardcore fans like us.) I'm trying not to think it might be the recession.


What have I done today:

10 am --- I got up. Woo! But only because the phone rang. I said "Hello? Hello?" but all I got in return was a lot of background noise, so I suspected it was someone whose cellphone had accidentally dialled my number. And it was --- it was my dad's. Ah well.

10:05 am --- Having completed my morning ablutions (I love that word), I switched on the computer, went to the kitchen to make coffee, only to find that there was coffee already there (thank you, Terz!) and all I had to do was heat it up. I logged on, roleplayed for close to four hours (not with the same people the whole time), replied to a bunch of e-mail, checked my usual daily websites, and chatted over ICQ with my cousin's girlfriend (they're both in Australia) for most of those four hours too. We were talking mostly about teaching, since I'm leaving the profession while they are intent on signing up as soon as they get themselves back to Singapore. They're not half-crazed idealists; they just have various career interests that would, honestly, be best met in teaching. Plus they're going into it with their eyes wide open, with all the horror stories from Terz and me.

And now I'm going to post this, log off, shower, drop some mail in the mailbox, and finally get some bread and Coke and other things that can make me a happy light lunch. It's so nice to laze about. I would be so hopeless if I were a freelancer or had a home office.

We got an Amazon.com delivery too! Good thing the postman waited till I took my time putting on proper clothes (as opposed to laze-around-at-home clothes) and finding my keys to open the door. Terz is now a happy camper, since his new DVDs (Willow and Enemy at the Gates) and D&D books are now awaiting his return from work.

PS: I added links in yesterday's entry for the online comics. Duh. Forgot to the first time.


Aloha! My site is back up. It went down for a while because my friend --- who's kindly hosting it for free --- had his machine moved to a new IP, and it took a while for the new address to disseminate its good self throughout the web after I changed it.

Of course, at the rate I am adding these journal entries, my friend may not want to host me for free anymore.

What a relaxing weekend it has been. This was the first weekend since mid-July when I didn't have to be doing work --- either work-work or university-work. And what a blissful weekend it was.

Okay, so Saturday started out not so blissful. I had to get up earlier than expected to drive Terz to his school for a staff seminar and then take myself off to pay our due-on-that-very-day car insurance. The woman at the office was startled that I had come so early, but I explained I had a ten o'clock appointment that would tie up the rest of my morning and she looked appeased --- barely.

From ten to twelve, I was tutoring this kid for the very last time before his big literature exam this coming week. He's a really odd kid --- like he was quite aloof and taciturn at first, but it soon became apparent that he has a strong vocabulary and a real interest in literature, despite his dispassionate exterior. I remember how neat it was when I finally got him to laugh. I've been tutoring him for over a year now and it's been nice; he even wants to continue to study literature next year although the subject combination he's interested in is pretty 'odd' by Singaporean conjugations, and I'm not sure he'd be allowed to, due to timetabling constraints. As it turns out, literature was the only A he got for his school's preliminary examinations, and I'm gratified.

I thought about going to the grocery store after that --- we're out of coffee filters, and I'm out of razor blades and almost out of toothpaste --- but the traffic I encountered along the way convinced me to head home instead. I napped, got up in time to watch Freaks and Geeks (which had a scene with a character reading a D&D Monster Manual --- pity Terz wasn't home to see that), hopped online for a while, then got dressed and zipped out for a wedding.

The wedding was nice. The bride and groom sang at the end, and they have lovely voices, so it was awesome. I have to admit I'm not too keen on being subjected to a song just-for-the-sake-of-it, but when the bride and groom do something that is clearly their forte, it's just beautiful. I wasn't so keen on the singing during the wedding service itself because it was the usual jazzed-up praise'n'worship stuff, and as someone who used to help run such a routine, I can tell you how meaningless it becomes after a while. Frankly, there's a kind of singing that suits solos --- all the jazzed-up stuff with extra-high keys and the works --- and then there's the kind of singing that suits giant congregations, and never the twain shall meet. The only song I knew on the service was "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee", but it's one of my favorites and I was looking forward to singing it, but when the introductory music began, my heart sank: it was a peppy, jazzy version, not at all rousing or hymn-like, plus as one of my colleagues commented, some of the lyrics had been changed to render it more feelgood, less strident.


But hey, it was a cool wedding. My own ideological differences with the singing are my own problem altogether.

Post-wedding, there was food (note to anyone in Singapore looking for a good caterer: White Orchid Cafe at College Road does a neat spread) and then I went home. Terz was already home from his staff seminar and since there was no good TV on, we finally watched Yojimbo. We've had it for months, but with all my work in front of me, I've never really been in the mood to watch it. So that makes three Kurosawas I've seen, and only about a zillion more to go. The one I really need to see is Throne of Blood, though.

Sunday was spent lazing and lazing and lazing. I found two neat online comics, Bite Me and Demonology 101, though they are very much in the vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so no surprises there. We both napped in the afternoon and I had weird dreams. Really weird dreams. Dreams-within-a-dream sorta thing. Quite puzzling, yet quite real, but it ended with Terz saving the day, so I was happy when he woke me up for dinner and I had to tell him the dream right away.

Dinner was at Serangoon Road with my parents, my grandfather and my mom's cousin [Ed: Name removed] and his wife. The latter live in England and are just passing through Asia; my mom's family sorta brought him up, so he's pretty close to all of them. We had what my parents called Punjabi food, although I thought it was just North Indian. It was really good food, though, and as my parents said: it's the same quality as what you get in four-, five-star restaurants, minus the ambience and minus the inflated prices. And I just love me some garlic naan.

The only problem with Serangoon Road on the weekend, as every Singaporean knows, is that it's a bitch to drive in the area. Lots of foreign workers --- from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh --- congregate there on the weekends to buy stuff, visit the appropriate religious place of worship, and generally hang out. Unfortunately, that translates into people spilling off the narrow sidewalks onto the streets, people crossing the streets every which way because that's how they do it back home, and lots and lots of people in general. We almost couldn't find parking, but for a new conveniently and strategically located multi-storey parking lot, and I was so afraid we were going to inadvertently run over a pedestrian who decided he could dart past a German car unscathed. Terz's colleague summed it up via SMS during dinner: it's absolute madness to go down Serangoon Road on the weekend.

Now I'm awake and still feeling tired. I swear, all the fatigue for the last six months caught up with me this week. It doesn't help that I have a sty in my left eye, which makes my eye feel heavy and sleepy as well. But I'm yawning a whole lot more than I usually do, given the amount of sleep I've been getting.

Oh dear. I'd best stop here. If I don't, I will ramble on till kingdom come.


I figure I should write this before I hop online, or it'll never get written. I've already procrastinated on a new entry for ten days now, telling myself I should be studying or other things, or because I wasn't in the mood to write a journal entry. But here I am, to assure my faithful readers that I have not abandoned them.

What filled up those missing ten days? Loads of studying. I spent all day studying from Saturday till Thursday, punctuated with examinations on Monday and Thursday evenings, as well as a bit of work foo I had to do on Monday (I got to pitch in at a meeting to decide who the top eighty, i.e. twenty percent, of our graduating cohort is, and to help rank them) and some meal breaks in between. I did not stay up till ridiculous hours of the night to burn ye olde midnight oil because if nothing else, my pre-university twelve years of arduous devotion to the Singapore education system taught me that if it doesn't enter my brain after a certain amount of time, it probably never will. For instance, I still couldn't tell you what social constructivism is or what the hell Arrow's Theorem has to do with it, though I read it three times and then some over the past week.

Anyways. The exams are over, they were unsurprising, and I got to see how wretchedly untidy my handwriting and essay organisation skills could be under duress. Plus my brain threatened to explode a couple of times, to the point where I felt really detached from everything going on. But the brain is intact and I got an A on my fifteen-page essay review for the international relations class (woo hoo!) and I don't have to crack the books open again till January.

Prior to the week of intense studying, I was doing some intense writing. I had to finish two economics essays, remember? That was painless, in comparison to the studying. I don't think they'll make As 'cause economics has never been my forte, but they'll do.

In between all that, I watched some TV (like Survivor --- good riddance to the two most irritating people, Silas and Lindsay!) and some videos of season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (ah --- the good old days) and endeavored to explain what a metaphor is to this guy on a Singapore Buffy mailing list.

Do I think too much? Various comments from people who don't know me --- the aforementioned mailing list guy and an e-mail I received today that was prompted by my Gripe website --- imply that I do. I always thought I thought too little. There's too much thinking in the world for a person to ever think too much, is there? It's not like I sit around, all hermit-in-a-cave and think and gripe that other people don't think as much as I do.

In other news, my colleague Mel started laughing mid-conversation over lunch today and said, "You talk like Buffy! You talk like Buffy!" And then there was great consternation on my part. G has said that before --- though I didn't give it more thought till Mel said so today --- and now I fear for the puddle of postmodern pop-cultural goop that my brain has become.

Okay: one final happy thought to end this entry, before it becomes tediously self-indulgent and self-analytical. I called my friend KK in Chicago today, just for the hell of it, and we had a lovely fifteen-minute conversation. She was stunned because she said, "Hello?" and I said, "[Her name]?" and she said, "Ye-es?" like I was a stalker or something. Then I said my name and all was well. She said the only other person who might call at that hour (just before 8:30 am her time) was her mom and my voice sounds nothing like her mom's. KK is one of my bestest friends in the world. It's a pity she lives in Chicago. She's also exceedingly hot, which has always made my guy friends (and Terz) happy. Talking to her was an exquisitive pleasure, since we haven't done that since she was last in Singapore (last year, I think) and we used to talk like every night in college, either on the phone or one person would go over to the other's place. We have made a resolution to call each other more often.

I think I'm going to call some other US-side friends now. Just 'cause I can.


So I had to help with security for the biology practical exam today, which jnvolved guarding a staircase from unauthorised passersby for a total of about two and a half hours today, though it was neatly broken into three shifts between 7:45 am and now. I told myself to get more of the neverending college recommendations done, since I had to be in school anyway, but what did I do instead?

- Caught up on reading friends' web journals.
- Reactivated my LiveJournal account so that I can add comments to my friends' LJs. (Have no fear, the LJ entries are old and experimental, and I'm going to keep writing on this ostensibly not-public site.)
- Followed links from friends' LJs to read about other folks, which involved detours to time-wasting sites like alllookssame.com (I scored a paltry 8 out of 18) and fuali.com (I am very much not a geek).
- Checked e-mail every 5-10 minutes that I was at my desk.

The thing is, I'm sick of writing recommendations after the fifty-and-then-some I've mailed out over the past month, and I'm not terribly excited about the four or five students whose forms I still have. And so many of them are applying to the same schools (what is it about Singaporeans and Stanford?) that I have to be extra careful not to inadvertently say the same thing or praise every student equally, indiscriminately. If I have to write 'diligent' or 'intellectual capacity' one more time...

My colleague's plaintive notice pinned above his desk sums it up perfectly, with the agonizingly scrawled handwriting and all: "Absolutely No More References! Too many already!"


I did something foolishly vain today: I wore a black jacket to work. More accurately, I spent ten minutes deciding what to wear, and once I had my heart set on this jacket (in my own defence, it was storming madly when I got out of the shower), it was a matter of coordinating everything else with it --- a not-that-straightforward process that I'm too embarrassed to recount here.

Of course, now that I've worn the jacket to work, the rain's halted --- whereas it pelted continuously every day but Saturday last week --- and the sun has come out. Bah.

Today has already been a very thought-ful morning. Allow me to share.

You know Cusson's Imperial Leather Soap? They had that TV ad where they carved family figurines out of competing brands of soap and of course the Cusson's ones had melted less after they ran both sets through water. I've been using the same bar of their soap for about a month now, and while the soap itself has diminished as expected in size and has had to be reinforced with a new bar, I noticed in the shower this morning that the ostensibly paper label on the top of the soap that has the brand printed on it has barely fractured or even been worn away at the edges. Ladies and gentlemen, Cusson's has had the secret formula for waterproof paper this whole time and they've been sitting on it so that they can be the only soap whose brand name you can't wash away.

The other revelation of the morning shower, though this one's been building for a while, is how great Eversoft shower cream is. I only bought it 'cause it was cheap, came in a green bottle that matched all my other bottles of toiletries and hence the decor of my shower stall (I'll have you know it was a close fight between the dark green Lux and this apple green Eversoft, but the Lux cost more), and I know some people who use it. But after three mornings of avid Eversoft use, it's made me excited about taking a shower again.

(Good ad slogan, eh? I'm expecting the check any day now...)

But back to Eversoft. Firstly, it lathers better than anything I've ever tried, and the tiniest blob of shower cream will do the trick. I pumped too ambitious an amount onto my sponge on the first morning and damn near had a bubble bath going in my shower stall.

Secondly, it smells heavenly. Not in a cloying or in a wannabe perfume sort of way, but with a mild, ideal-bathroom fragrance. Now I know what the hotels use.

And you know what? This stuff claims to moisturize and it truly does, also without that stickiness that can be a hazard of admitting any moisturizing substance onto one's skin in the tropics.

Okay, even more bizarre than the drivers with cellphone hands-free kits are those who walk around plugged into those sets, which look like they're Walkman earphones except that the guy seems to be talking to himself in a very self-obsessed way or maybe to an imaginary friend right in front of him. I mean, his eyes appear to be focused on something, but not quite. I'm pretty sure I don't look that weird when I walk around talking to myself --- and I've done that just fine for years without a cellphone.

Oh god, he just called someone else to pick up a conversation, and he just called the local (Gurmit Singh) film One Leg Kicking an example of "local art". If he keeps this up, I'm going to know more about his life from his fifteen-minute monologue than you'd learn about me from the past couple months' worth of web journal entries.

Oh god (again), he's in the advertising business. And looking for a new job 'cause his contract ends in a few weeks' time, and he's heard that recommendations open doors better than sending out letters, and he's got a job offer from the River Valley place, but even though it's near (down)town, his first choice is some other place that's near his home but that hasn't offered him a job yet --- which I'm going to assume has something to do with his self-confessed ability to be late for work even when the office is near to home.

Busy busy day. It began at 4:45 am with getting out of bed and into the shower, in order to pick up Terz's colleague by 5:30 and head to the national examination distribution center to collect exam papers at 6 am. We were off next to our respective schools to administer said exams.

After the morning exam, I skipped lunch because I had promised to show a couple of colleagues how to use Backflip, then made sure the afternoon exam was off and running before taking myself off-duty. My colleague and I had a late lunch at 3:45 pm, then I had to swing by the university to turn in my 15-page paper before meeting Tris [Ed: Name edited] for dinner. Tris is my best friend and was my bridesmaid. For all that we have completely different friends and mismatched paces of life now, we still hang out every couple of months. Before today, I hadn't seen her since June and she's vacation-bound next week, so I thought I'd better catch her while I could today.

And that was a really long paragraph.

Post-Tris rendezvous, I'm headed for an hour and a half of tuition before I get to go home and hit the sack. Thank goodness I only have to make the exam run three more times. Terz has a good three weeks to go.

It's strange how people who talk on their cellphones while driving --- obediently using hands-free kits of course --- tend to gesture emphatically with their hands as they talk. I mean, if you're driving a car, don't you need your hands for other things, like managing the steering wheel? I don't even gesture when I'm driving and talking to a passenger, or when I'm at home and talking to someone on the landline.


The paper is 99.9% completed. I can't think of a zinger of a conclusion at the moment, so I'll come back to it after a roleplay break and lunch. As it turns out, I procrastinated a lot of yesterday as well. I spent several diligent hours on it when I got home from the abortive book-buying venture, then decided to give myself a Survivor break after all, then went back to work only to realize that (duh) it was Election Day and I should have the TV on to hear what the results are. As it turns out, there weren't any results till a little after 10 pm, and then they trickled in for the next two hours --- and this is when barely one-third of the seats were contested. I'm not sure how the Election Office would handle things if the majority of the seats were up for grabs. I expect we'd have all-night counting then --- we'd also be a real democracy then. The fact that I almost forgot about watching the election results should tell you what kind of [Ed: adjective removed] democracy we have here in Singapore.

So the opposition took home only the two seats they had before the election --- sigh --- and Chiam See Tong's winning margin has narrowed further. There's nothing like an economic recession to send voters to vote with their wallets (or lack thereof) and nothing else. I'm not saying money and jobs aren't important; I just wish people would have the guts to give the opposition a shot, especially when the ruling party is already returned to power.

Oh, and don't tell me media coverage isn't biased here. ChannelNewsAsia sent real cameras to the PAP (ruling party) gatherings and crappy videophones to the opposition ones. How is the opposition guy supposed to look credible --- even when he won --- when you have one of those interrupted feeds that make it look and sound like he's being interviewed halfway across the world instead of right here in our little red dot of an island? The good thing about the media coverage is that it was amusing to see who the truly telegenic and self-possessed PAP MPs are. I learned last night that Matthias Yao had totally tin-canned answers --- more processed than usual, even for a ruling party candidate --- and that Mah Bow Tan's Chinese is as faltering as mine. I also found it really funny that the PAP supporters would thrust their fists exuberantly into the air whenever it was announced that they had won another seat. I mean, really --- like they had to fight real hard against an overwhelming majority or something.

I must ask Miffy later about what things were really like on the ground at Bishan Stadium, where Chiam See Tong and his supporters were gathered. The ChannelNewsAsia reporter had difficulty getting an interview with him --- I'm not sure why --- and I'd much rather hear from a friend that I trust than a snark-worthy media any day.

So the first General Election of the new millennium has come and gone. Meanwhile, I'm twenty-seven years old and I have yet to vote.

I just got interrupted in my political meditation by two of those door-to-door Christian evangelicals. The more I'm on the receiving end of things --- and I did the door-to-door thing a couple of times in my wild and impetuous youth --- the more I wonder how anyone can think it's a feasible method of attracting people to the church. For one thing, subterfuge is a real no-no. If a proselytizer begins by saying she wants to talk about the impact of recent events, such as the September 11 attacks and the local economic downturn, and gather relevant 'feedback' (an oft-misused and at any rate overly used word in the Singapore context), but only admits after I ask where she's from that the pair of them are doing "Christian voluntary work", I'm not going to be too responsive to their beatific smiles. I admire the euphemism "Christian voluntary work", but I can also see right through it. And another thing: I think a lot about the September 11 attacks and the local economic downturn, and I really don't think she had several hours to spare on debating where God fits into all of it. (I confess I would also like a few hours myself to prepare for such a debate.)

Besides, it's Sunday morning. Shouldn't they be in church?

Terz and I have kidded around about putting up a funny sign over our door to repel such intrusions, but we haven't been able to think of one that's snarky enough. On the other hand, I suppose we could be hauled up for inciting religious disharmony in our neighborhood if we went for something as provocative as "We Like Goats --- Do You?" Maybe we'll just resort to what my cousins and I used to play: having passwords to get in the door. ("Sagittarius" à la The West Wing is pretty cool.) Then when it's someone unwelcome, we'd begin interrogatorily with, "What's the password?" and when they fumble, we'd have perfect justification to shut the door in their faces. The only people who'd receive special dispensation are neighborhood folks selling fun-fair tickets (never alienate your neighbors), survey collectors who report to the government (like this guy whose questions I once spent fifteen minutes answering because I really had opinions about family-friendly work practices, or the lack thereof, in government employment practices) and Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts are okay in my book so long as they're polite, because my brother was a Scout and had to go door-to-door during Job Week for many years of his life.

Today has been the day of procrastination. I was supposed to get up at 8, but after I shut off the alarm, I went back to sleep for almost two hours. I started work on my essay at about 10:45 and my parents brought my grandma to visit at noon. That was a planned interruption, but I extended it by asking them to drop me in town after an over-long lunch. I've got enough vouchers that I can finally justify getting myself a copy of the MLA Manual of Style --- except that after I spent half an hour combing the touch-screen search database and the shelves, I convinced myself that they really didn't have it in stock. They had three big badass hardback editions of the Chicago Manual, but no MLA. I confess that Kinokuniya has finally disappointed me.

All of which puts me on a crowded train on the way home, instead of plonked in front of my computer at home. I've wasted at least four hours today, which means my paper is one-third of the way done instead of two-thirds, and l probably can't justify watching the 8 pm rerun of this week's Survivor tonight. I missed yesterday's because I was hanging at a friend's place in the evening and we weren't really in the Survivor mood.

Terz is at a school camp all weekend. I'm not sure if I would be spending my time more efficiently if he were home.

Here's a strange sight: a mother in front of me is reading a book to her four- or five-year old kid. This is weird because most kids spend train rides staring out the window, playing on the floor or otherwise fussing because they can't move about freely. This kid is even asking his mom questions as they go along. Maybe there is hope for the next generation. The only problem with the image is that the dad is beside them but reading his own big adult Clive Cussler-type book. Why does the mom have to do the nurturing-bonding-type stuff?

And I'm almost at my station. Homework ahoy!