Social butterflying

On leave, but v busy. Many people to see, lunches to eat, news to catch up on --- and a quick meeting at work today to boot. Suffice to say there will be no maniacal running five days in a row this week.

Plus it's Terz's birthday! So get on over there and leave him a cheery message already. I'll get around to a proper blog post another day.


The workholic in me

I volunteered to spend the weekend working on copy for the new project at work, which is due to my boss first thing Monday morning, even though I'm on leave Monday through Thursday.

I volunteered to "pop back" to the office for the first meeting with the creative types, which is likely to take place while I'm on leave Monday through Thursday.

I do, however, promise not to check work email once I've shot the copy off to the boss.

No, really.

Friday night haiku

Will my hair dry soon?
Blister refuses to pop.
Gmail is broken.


Last Thursday of November

I haven't celebrated Thanksgiving in six years, but when I realised this morning what day it was (mostly because it's a marker for the Byrds' arrival in town), I felt obscurely thankful.

For my health, which has always been decent and which seems to be taking well to all the new physical routines I'm crazily imposing on it.

For family and friends, who are always there to hear about the latest silliness in my life, to offer keen advice, to entertain me with their phone calls, SMSes, blogs and emails, to receive gifts, to go out for drinks on a whim and a prayer, to teach me new words and languages and ways of speaking, to teach me new ways of thinking.

For a steady income that pays the bills.

For good books, like Neil Gaiman's American Gods, which I'm currently reading, and Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers, which you read, and have to put away to think about, and then find you have to come back to, and Jonathan Frantzen's The Corrections, for which I still have no words to aptly describe.

For my eyesight, so I can read and write, surf the web and blog.

For the 49% of Americans who voted for Kerry.

For the dignified stray cats who live in my neighbourhood.

For the abundance of good food on this tiny island where I live, from $2 fishball noodles at Margaret Drive to $6 Breko's sandwiches to $15 Peranakan delights at Bumbu to $35 Japanese buffet at Kuchinbo to the crazy expensive dinners my parents splurge on once in a while.

For blue skies.



I came out recently about my blog to two friends whom I've known for a while, neither of whom had an inkling that I blog. It's still quite strange, in this 21st century internet age, to confess 'midst social conversation that, "Yeah, I have a website. Yeah, I have a blog." Followed promptly by, "Erm, please don't tell the people you work with that I blog. Because no one I work with knows. Yeah."

I know, I know, I'm coming very near to contravening the tao of blogging. I can live with everything I've posted on this website --- but I would prefer it if certain people, who really aren't your typical web-savvy blog readers in the first place, were not pointed specifically in this direction to read mine. If they find it through their own adventurous web wanderings, well, that's bona fide, then.

Tonight's run: 4.5 km. Minor shoulder blade ache from kickfit has passed. Bruises now lopsided: right knee bruise has passed from red to mauve, while the one on the left has muted into faint pink. Will still wear pants tomorrow, I think.


Red & white

I have two red bruises on my knees, courtesy of said knees hitting the floor too hard during certain moves in last night's kickfit class. I'm not particularly bothered by the bruises --- only realised how red they were when I changed out of my work clothes tonight --- except that the one on the right knee is particularly large and round-shaped and might necessitate my wearing a below-the-knee skirt tomorrow.

I gave 2-Door another try tonight. We were last there for EH's birthday, and it was nice and cosy and posh-looking without egregious prices (assuming you don't go for the $700 bottles of wine). Tonight, it was just Casey and me, in search of a liquid consolation in a place that wasn't Union (drinks a bit too expensive lah) and that didn't have hard-backed kopitiam-style chairs (sorry, Beaujolais, now that you've moved across the street). 2-Door provided comfy couches to sink into and wine-by-the-glass at $10-12 a pop, which, let me assure my overseas readers, aren't bad prices by local standards.

So there was blanc for me and rouge for Casey, and we pondered whether working for the next ten years at jobs we don't give a damn about but which pay us well would be worth it, so we could "retire" at 40 and then get on with our lives. Then we reshuffled and thought maybe short-term goals like next year's travel plans was a more palatable topic: he thinks land of New Zealand; I'm thinking Europe, land of cousin Nardac and friends Neil and Ru (well, once the latter move there). We'll see how the money works out.


A moment

On my way home on the train tonight, I was standing in front of a girl, maybe eight or nine years old, travelling alone, wearing a bright blue T-shirt, black tights, with a satchel in her lap, slippers on her feet. When I was done reading my book, I decided that it was time to check for messages, so I pulled out first the personal cellphone --- no messages --- and immediately after, the work one. The girl's eyes nearly bugged out when the second one appeared; she could've been that kid in The Incredibles who sees Mr Incredible hoist a car over his head and his chewing gum goes *pop*. I could just hear the thought in her mind: "She has two handphones?" Like it was a magic trick or something.

With much aplomb, I returned both cellphones to my handbag, while the girl wiped the startled expression off her face. Kids are funny sometimes.

Once a teacher...

I had to fill out some work review forms today, and damn if that didn't immediately catapult me back three years (or more), to this time of year when I'd be pondering a similar computer screen and wondering how many ways I could say someone was "reliable"or "did his/her work well" before it became patently obvious that I had nothing else to say about them. This time next year, I'll probably be stumped by this same problem again. Why am I going back to school again? (Oh yeah, gotta pay the bills. That ol' excuse.)

It's not that I never have anything good to say about the students or colleagues around me. For some people, I can write whole novellas. For others, it's a little slow-going, but I can start with bullet point and improvise for others. And then there's the others: the ones that no matter how hard you tried to get to know, to see what they do best (or worst), to find out more about them from other students/colleagues --- you somehow never got anywhere and when the time comes, you feel you can't honestly write type anything beyond platitudes and cliches and damning with faint praise.

To any former students reading this, I apologise for some of the crap I've ever written on your testimonials and progress reports. Whether I knew you well or not, I know I have sinned, for recently I paged through the last batch of testimonials I wrote, and damn there was some pretty crappy writing in there.

I wish I could make a resolution to write better recommendations/comments in future, but after this morning's struggle with just two forms, I'd better not make promises I can't keep. I stared blankly at the screen for a good half hour before scuttling plaintively to beg a colleague for three adjectives --- just three, please --- to get me started. (Fortunately, that did the trick.)

I have three more to do tomorrow...


And on the fifth day...

Either my muscles are protesting from running five days in a row, or the four (highly watered-down!) vodka tonics I had last night screwed with my constitution, because I could barely make it to 2 km today before I had to stop running. Oh, there's a third possibility: Sprite enticing me to run the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (well, just the quarter, 10 km), which I declined, but maybe the stress of thinking about it kept me from running well. But I take comfort in the fact that I did 4 km yesterday, no problem.

It'll be at least three days before I run again (tomorrow: kickfit; Tuesday: Pilates). By then, muscles should've rested somewhat and I can find out if this week's spurt was just a fluke.

In home news, The Other D&D Game has started up in our flat again. Hence I went running.



In the continuing de-suaku-ization of me, I went to the Boom Boom Room for the first time last night. To be fair, I was not the only first-timer in our group: of the five of us, only two had been there before. On the other hand, I was the oldest among the first-timers, so...

It was rockin', it was rollin' and it was some good times. Kumar was sadly absent, but there was a very cute back-up dancer that I could fixate on instead. (Not sure if he was gay; no, I mean, I'm sure he was, but all these metrosexual-looking types really confuse the scene.) There were two hen night parties going on: one girl was wearing strange black feathers in her hair, the other --- well, let's just say I wasn't surprised when she said she was a teacher. (I'm going to be one of those next year! Save me now!) Both brides-to-be were dutifully hauled up on stage, but nothing racier than a little close dancing with two other hapless ang moh 'volunteers' ensued. A colleague commented that the dance music, played during the interval between the two cabaret shows, wasn't as happening as those in KL clubs, which makes me think I should go up to KL with her some time and see where she hangs out.

By night, Singapore really doesn't seem so bad. The city's quiet, there's a light breeze to buoy one's spirits, you can walk in the middle of the road --- everything's soft-focused and easier to accept. It's almost a shame to have to get into a cab for the ride home.


4 km!!!

I didn't think I could do it, but I kept telling myself not to stop till Sprite stopped, and when we finally hit the 4 km mark (which was also where we started our run), I felt like crap --- but it also felt strangely accomplished.

Damn, this running thing is addictive. Now I'm trying to figure out how I can squeeze in a run before meeting colleagues to go to the Boom Boom Room tomorrow night...

The last hurrah

It should come as no surprise by now that it's been an easy couple of weeks at work, with plenty of time for lazy, long lunches and plenty of web surfing. This morning, I came in with only the following on my to-do list:

  • Finalise two speeches and send to the big boss;
  • Add remarks to subordinates' work review forms and move them up the hierarchy to bosslet;
  • Attend 3 pm meeting.
In fact, I had enough time that I caught up reading on all the archives for cour marly's and Little Miss Drinkalot's blogs (and I keep reading the latter in my head as "Little Miss Drinksalot").

But the 3 pm meeting changed everything: There's a last-minute and therefore urgent! project that needs to start now and wind up by mid-January, and it's got my name written all over it --- not so much because the bosses are forcing the last ounce of blood-sweat-toil out of me before I go, but because it's the exact kind of project I'd've been jockeying to get on board if I weren't leaving anyway. Does it involve writing? Check. Proofreading? Check. Working with creative types? Check. Getting to put something of a personal stamp on a shiny, glossy publication? Check. It's all mine, baby.

Well, not all mine. There's someone else nominally in charge, but he's going on leave in December. In fact, he and I had planned our respective leave periods so that they wouldn't overlap, which turns out to have been prescience on our part. He can run things till he goes, then I'll take over, and he'll be back in time to take it to the end, just when I vanish on my last leave-clearing blitz of the year.

I'm all tingly inside, thinking about this project. It will mean a shitload of work next week, before I go on leave the following week, and then more intense work when I come back for the last three weeks on the job. But it's what I would do, full-time, if I could find a job that paid me to do it. It'll be fun. It'll spin me into that high when the deadline's looming, and there aren't enough working days to finish the work, so it's nights and weekends and emails and faxes flying to and fro, and poring over proofs till I can't see straight, and showing up --- surprise! --- on the production company's doorstep because there was just one more little thing I had to see to in person.

Most importantly, it will be real. There will be a final product that I can hold in my hand. I'll still have to appease bosses along the way, but I'll get to nudge and sway things my way, mostly.

I thought I'd sidle my way out of here, a quiet, low-profile exit, aiming mainly not to let any snafus hit me on the way out. This is going to be so much better.


Step by step

The funny thing about starting to exercise is how much it costs. It might have been cheaper if I had relied on good ol' willpower to get me off my butt and into some kind of routine, but let's face it: I know my own strengths, and self-motivation to exercise? Not one of them.

So I resorted to spending money into admittedly well-researched fitness classes and was completely prepared for the sucking effect that would have on my bank account. What Ididn't anticipate was how much I'd have to spend on T-shirts, shorts, sports bras and shoes.

I had no choice about getting new shoes, since my previous pair had fallen to pieces from disuse in the interim between Terz convincing me to learn to play tennis (circa 1998) and the present. In fact, the shoes I bought a year ago, but didn't get around to using regularly till the latter half of this year. Now they get taken out at least once a week, and I think they're pretty happy about it.

T-shirts and shorts --- now there's something I never used to think about. I have tons of both, but they're the kind that I throw on when I need to flop down to the provision shop or coffeeshop at the next block to get something. I admit I'd be hard-pressed to even wear them to the market because most of them are very old, very worn, and very liable to make me look immediately like a HDB auntie.

So when it comes to scrounging T-shirts and shorts to wear for an exercise class or just to run in, my wardrobe was a dead end. I had to go shopping. And do you know how hard it is to get nondescript T-shirts/shorts that aren't paper-thin, shapeless or in obnoxious colours? It's taken me several months to painstakingly piece together three sets of comfortable, affordable dark-coloured clothing that are suitable for some form of fitness activity and don't carry massive logos all over them.

Sports bras were actually the easiest and just about the least expensive to acquire.

But now I'm set. I've got shoes, I've got clothes and I've got a routine. Plus today I ran 3.5 km without stopping --- 3.5 km! Considering that six months ago I was dying after doing less than 2 km, I think I'm allowed to preen a little. The next step, as I've told Sprite, is to maintain, repeat and improve.

It occurred to me, as I got back from my 3.5 km mini-triumph today, that there are two things I can do after work: go out and drink, or come home and run. Both give their own highs. It's a tough choice, really.

For eyes in Singapore only

If you live in Singapore and use Ciba Vision's Solocare Plus or Puriyves contact lens solution, you might want to make sure you're not using expired solution. According to MediaCorp NewsRadio, Ciba Vision has been recalling those products for the past month and a half. Yeah, right --- I'm pretty sure I saw Solocare Plus on sale at the Watson's outlet where I picked up my non-Plus, non-Puriyves solution last week.

Naturally, this would happen right after I start wearing lenses again.

The news report's reproduced below, since it'll probably vanish from the NewsRadio webpage soon:
Contact lens solution withdrawn
Contact lens solutions Solocare Plus and Puriyves are being taken off the shelves.
Our reporter Goh Kim Chai finds out why.
The recall started about one and a half months ago, but not many consumers were aware of it.
Many thought the manufacturer, Ciba Vision, had simply ran out of stock, especially for Solocare Plus, a popular contact lens solution.
Retailers I spoke to could not tell me why the products were recalled.
A check with the Health Sciences Authority, showed that the recall was a voluntary one and not because of any adverse incident.
It said Ciba Vision had found out during routine checks that the shelf life of the solutions fell short of its expiration date.
What could happen if one uses expired contact lens solutions?
I put this question to a consultant opthalmologist.
There's a risk that the solution that you're using will harbour bacteria. I'll be transferred to your
contact lens. And from the contact lens to the eye giving rise to an increase risk of getting contact lens related corneal ulcers.
So what should you do if you still have these solutions?
Newsradio 9-3-8 has written to CIBA Vision to find out and is waiting for its reply.

Check your bathroom cabinets now.


One of those days

So far today, I've shredded old papers that have been lying in a corner of my cubicle for half a year, eaten several mouthfuls of murukku, read all my usual local and foreign news websites, caught up on friends' blogs, visited the boss and her beautiful new baby, and battled with Blogger to try to upload this. @whee!

Now I'm reading X-Entertainment's review of V: The Mini-Series. Ah ... Marc Singer and Jane Badler, where are you now?

PS: While you're there, check out the review of the Jones Soda Holiday Pack. They're actually selling the stuff at our local grocery stores, which suitably amused me for a few seconds before continuing with my (ultimately fruitless) hunt for Snapple Lime Green Tea. I had a feeling that any drink purporting to taste like turkey'n' gravy or green bean casserole couldn't be a good thing.


The irony of being a modern consumer

I bought $18 shoes at lunch because that was 70% off the original price and they were pink and low-heeled and sweet. Stellou, I think. would approve, even though they aren't gold. Terz I don't think would approve so much, but he generally disapproves of my shoes anyway.

The irony is: now I have to go buy clothes to match the shoes, seeing as most of my wardrobe is black/dark brown/dark blue/dark red. I think that comes from my mother constantly telling me during my teenage days not to wear black because it was so dark and depressing-looking --- this, even though the word 'goth' wasn't in her vocabulary or, really, in the average Singaporean's at the time.

At any rate, I don't think I quite have the sartorial panache to pull off contrasting coloured shoes, so I'll have to try diluting my wardrobe. I'll just be careful to avoid cream-c0loured clothes so that I'm not mistaken for a student when I turn up at my new place of work next year.

And yes, that place of work has finally been confirmed, so the school can start clearing a workspace for me and I can start contemplating what the hell I'm going to do with all the mounds of paper in my current cubicle (paper, meet shredder --- it is your destiny).


--- on a long weekend

Some days, there's no better pick-me-up than being able to fit into a Marks & Sparks tank top that's sized for 12-year-olds. Now if only their kids' clothes were priced a little lower, in proportion to say the amount of cloth that goes into one of those outfits, and I would've got the tank top --- and a couple other shirts, and pants, and skirts. In the end, though, I stuck to my budget and just got some straightforward (adult) underwear. I'm so sensible sometimes, even when shopping is supposed to help alleviate my weekend ennui.

Across the street, Tangs was a madhouse unto itself --- not because there was a particularly spectacular sale going on, but because curious folks just had to come see for themselves the newly renovated store. I want to say that's understandable because Tangs is a homegrown enterprise, a local institution --- but I suspect they would've done the same if it were a foreign department store. We were there in the vain hope of helping Sprite spend her vouchers, but the mindless hordes frightened us out within minutes.

The boys --- let's name the culprits here: Terz, Wahj, Boko and Dan --- have been playing networked Medal of Honor for three out of four nights this long weekend. The tick-tick-tick-tock of the game echoes in the next room as I blog this. We're not Halo 2 widows yet (link via mr brown), but the girls are definitely getting restless --- or in the case of Kay tonight, sleepy.


Night vision

Sometimes I feel like I only see the world by night, smudged through the pane of a cab's rear window, as I'm ferried from here, to there, to nowhere.

Out and about

It's storming furiously outside as I write this. God, I love the monsoon season.

Last night, I was at New Asia Bar with EH and Casey, and as it began to rain, the windows fogged up so that the city below looked more mysterious, more alluring than it ever does by daylight. A group of Caucasians took the table next to us, the men in black suits with unkempt white dress shirts, looking as if they'd just yanked off their ties on the way up to the bar. We couldn't place their accent, despite our best attempts at eavesdropping, and EH concluded that they must be Eastern European because they were short (for Caucasians) and "malnutritioned". Malnutritioned? EH is the queen of sweeping statements, but I have no idea where she got that notion from.

New Asia Bar is quite the melting pot as far as clientele goes. We saw families, kids fresh out of school, tourists in shorts and tourists in suits, Sex and the City-esque girl clusters --- and I encountered a group of older women in the bathroom who murmured that the lighting was too dark. A family with two children who wouldn't be tall enough to qualify to ride on most rollercoasters were turned away at the ground floor when we arrived ("Sorry, no children allowed ..."), but apparently kids are okay at Introbar: on our way out, we passed a couple with their snoozing baby.

Later, in the Raffles Courtyard, a woman in an ill-fitting white cheongsam sashayed her way between the tables, mumbling unintelligibly to slow jazz tunes. We thought we'd time-warped back to the '70s.

All this, and I managed to get home before midnight.


The weekend only starts now

Since I left work at 6.15 pm yesterday (Friday), I've been back three times --- three. This must be some sort of record I needed to set before I can leave my job in peace on 31 December.

Last night, promptly after my Pilates class ended, the work cellphone rang and I was summoned back to the office. This morning, I had to come in and check on something that hadn't been finalised before this morning's event. And thanks to certain questions posed at the event, I'm back here for the third time, typing monkey once more.

It's a good thing I have a whole afternoon of Star Wars ahead of me, or else I'd be really grumpy. (That's episodes 4, 5, 6 for those of you who care --- none of this prequel shit, thank you.)


Ways of seeing

I've worn glasses since I was six, to the dismay of my (equally short-sighted) parents. They blamed it on me reading in the dark and bending too low over my work when writing at a desk. I blame it on reading too much, period.

Since then, it's been an ongoing struggle between the desire to read more, read faster, read smaller-print books, read text-heavy webpages, and the toll it takes on abused eyes. To my parents' consternation, my prescription went up by an average of 100 degrees every year when I was in school, stalling only around my 'teens.

And then I discovered contact lenses --- and all the world was clear again. Peripheral vision, man. I still remember how bizarre it felt the first time I put on a pair of lenses. Everything seemed bigger, broader, brighter. My feet weren't a blur, out of focus below the rim of my glasses anymore. I didn't have to readjust my glasses against the bridge of my nose every few minutes. No more smudges, no more glasses sliding off my nose. My prescription even levelled off, stabilising for the first time in years.

Also, frankly, I looked better.

But those days were not to last. A year after moving back to sunny island Singapore, my eyes started acting up after wearing soft lenses for a day or two. Several mild eye infections later, I made the heart-sinking decision to make an actual proper pair of glasses (i.e. one that didn't date back to the late '80s) and gave all my extra contact lens solution away.

The funny thing was that through all the years of contact lens abuse overseas, I'd never had any serious eye problems. Impromptu decision to sleep over at a friend's? Just go to sleep with the lenses still in. Starting the day with an early class and ending with post-midnight clubbing? That's what extended wear lenses were for, right? Itchy eyes? Well, rub them, duh.

It's a miracle I haven't entirely lost my eyesight yet. Mom, I hope you're not reading this.

I still wore contact lenses off and on --- a wedding, a party, a photo shoot --- but just daily disposables, the logic being that if they were only worn once, they couldn't possibly aggravate my eyes any further. Because this was for vanity purposes, it never occurred to me, natch, that people might wear them for more functional reasons, e.g. while exercising. I've been jogging off and for the last couple of months with my glasses and attended two kickfit classes likewise, all the while cursing the damned glasses.

Then on Sunday night, it dawned on me --- wear the damn disposables, already. By Monday morning, I'd forgotten and blithely set off for work in my glasses, but a trip to Holland Village solved that problem. I thought I was just going to get an extra box of disposable contact lenses, but wound up with a new prescription and a sober suggestion to change my glasses as soon as possible. (I begged off doing it that day because I was in a rush to get back to work after an excessively leisurely lunch.) What made it worse was that the young man who examined my eyes was just that --- young, yet utterly serious. I felt like a duly chastised child.

However, in lieu of actually, y'know, changing my glasses to the correct prescription, I've decided to experiment with contact lenses again. Since my prescription is still so unstable, I might as well invest in little batches of disposable lenses and see how it takes, rather than drop a bundle on new glasses. Lasik surgery certainly isn't in my future. At the rate my prescription fluctuates, it'd probably last a couple of years at most before I fall short-sighted again.

Today's my third straight day of wearing lenses and it's been going okay so far *knock on wood*. Eyes are a little dry, but that's to be expected (forgot to buy eyedrops today, doh). As I told Sprite last night, everything's brighter, crisper, clearer again. Damn, but I missed this.


The end of an evening

Nothing like two glasses of white wine to put me to sleep well before my regular bedtime. Terz has already blogged about dinner, so I'll just add that I'm glad there are public holidays coming up so that less time will be spent at work and more time will be spent on, y'know, the important things in life.

Six more weeks!!!



It's mid-afternoon.
I didn't have much for lunch, but I'm feeling extremely full.
If I close my eyes and either lean my forehead on the computer screen or prop my chin against my arm, I could fall asleep.

Is it time to go home yet?



I can't remember the last time I was hungover, but I'm pretty sure I didn't have to go to work then. I wouldn't've come in to work today, especially since I started awake at about 5 am and couldn't sleep after that --- but I have meetings this afternoon. See, who says I'm in ORD mood?

So far, I've had warm water, a banana, a Panadol and 250 ml of orange juice. Not sure if I'll be able to eat anything else today, but at least my mouth doesn't taste funny anymore. My aunt would say a spoonful of vinegar would cure me right up, but I don't feel bad enough to try that yet.


Boston didn't win this time.


The only bright side is that Bush can't be re-elected again, come 2008.

Time to start drinking.


So it looks like the stomach-wrenching sensations will have to continue for another day and then some. Why can't Ohio count its provisional ballots any earlier, is what this curious mind wants to know.

My stomach actually feels a little funny right now, but I think it just wants food. Lunch was not altogether satisfying. Just as well I'm holding off those stiff drinks till after the Ohio issue is settled.

After all that crazy refreshing going on earlier today, all my extra browser windows are now closed. (I was looking at C-Span for the pretty map, CNN for the news headlines, Salon for sensibility, and Daily Kos for chatter.) I think it's time to go home and avoid all news headlines for several hours --- or maybe days.


Miles to go

Who'd've thought that watching C-SPAN refresh could be so stomach-wrenching? Every time Bush takes a lead, I correspondingly feel like throwing up.

Six browser windows open, and only one vaguely has anything to do with work :)


I don't talk politics much on this blog, but I've very much got it on the brain, perhaps more so than I realise. Why else would I have dreamed of nothing but CNN election updates last night, in ominous, amorphous, flickering form, a Technicolor tease ---

--- That started me awake at 3:05 am. My first thought: Is it too early to check election coverage? (Of course it was.) Second thought: Why isn't Terz in bed? (The usual reason --- late-night 'live' soccer telecast.) Third thought: Since the TV's on, should I check CNN? (No, you doofus, it's too damn early.) It was hard to go back to sleep after that.

Getting up proper later this morning, I reeled from hodpodge visions of voters, talking heads, pundits --- faceless all. In the shower, I usually think about what to wear to work, but since I don't have a black hoodie, my train of thought stalled on general election mishmash once more. When I finally flicked on the TV, CNN and BBC were talking about record voter turnout, but it was still anybody's game.

We hang in the balance.