The pre-new job jitters aren't supposed to kick in till the night before the school term actually starts, but they came early this time around. I suppose tomorrow's (today's, really) big staff meeting at the new workplace has something to do with it. I moved some of my things into my new cubicle today, and was given my work schedule and a quick impromptu tour of the place, which must have been sufficient to get the servos clicking and whirring in my slumbering brain because here I type, in the truly darkest watches of the night, all adrenalined up and nowhere to go.

That 8:30 am meeting is gonna suck. On the other hand, I suppose it'll give my new colleagues a fair impression of the level I'll be functioning at when I show up at school every morning.

Should've adhered to my magic formula of vodka imbibery before I went to sleep --- though I think the revised formula's hovering somewhere around five drinks now. Too late now. There will be eye bags, there will be yawning and there will be a nap after lunch.


"We're taking a moment ... "

I was in the office for the last time today --- swiped my pass card for access one last time --- bundled everything up in giant Mango plastic bags --- heaved it all out by the end of the day.

These are the lists I've been working on for the past couple of months:

What I'll miss about this job

1. Waking up after sunrise.
2. Going to work with the morning crowd, not before they even wake up.
3. Having the slight flexibility to show up for work, oh, some time between 8:30 and 9 am, and enough leeway that I don't need to panic if once in a while I show up only at 9:30 am.
4. Having lunch with people I don't work with.
5. Being in an airconditioned environment almost the entire day.
6. Bosses whom I can randomly drop in on, brainstorm with, bounce ideas off, tease, whine to and SMS about work and/or silliness.
7. Having my own phone line, which I can choose not to answer.
8. Having my own computer, which no one else will use and inadvertently stumble across all the blogs in my internet browser's history.
9. Having a cellphone that I don't have to pay the bill for.
10. Having a 50 MB email quota (and then some).
11. A fine laser colour printer, perfect for churning out Stila calendar sheets for Ondine.
12. Walking to Holland Village for lunch three times a week if I want to.
13. Stopping in town on the way home to have dinner, shop or pick up groceries if I want to.
14. Being close enough to my former place of work to still meet ex-colleagues for lunch.
15. Meeting interesting people from the private sector who come do projects with us.
16. Having interesting people buy me lunch or coffee because I'm the client.
17. Whining loudly when shit hits the fan and having colleagues who immediately spring up to commiserate.
18. Two-hour lunches, to make up for days with no lunch.
19. No marking on the weekends.
20. Playing music at my cubicle without having to use earphones.
21. Wearing tanktops to work.
22. Last-minute situations, when the adrenaline's pumping and the ideas are snapping and there's no time to quibble over commas.
23. Being able to take weekdays off, once in a blue moon.
24. Being able to take advantage of off-peak vacation deals and travel when the airport isn't clogged with schoolchildren and their parents (even though we only did this once).
25. The view from the rooftop --- all the way south to the refinery islands, west to the gray miasma of distant Jurong, north to the nature reserve and east to downtown.
26. The way work totally eases off in the weeks before Xmas because half the people in the building are on leave.
27. Because of the lull, taking a long lunch break to go for the annual Mango sale (okay, I also only did this once).

Before I get too soppy about this, here's what I won't miss:
1. Having to keep the cellphone on all the time, and having to field calls even on weekends and public holidays.
2. The tediousness of VPN connections.
3. Being stricken with panic every time an email from He Who Must Not Be Named materialised in my Inbox.
4. Witnessing firsthand the application of the Peter Principle.
5. Being stuck in a meeting while people argue over the placement of a comma.
6. Having to cancel or postpone lunch or dinner plans because "something urgent just came up" or "I need to settle this before I can go".
7. Consecutive days with no time for lunch.
8. Corporate jargon: "paradigm", "relook", "deliverables", "framework", "dimensions", "learning points", and the impeccable "changing the context".
9. Being harassed by the security guards if I forget my security pass, even though they recognise me and know I work in the building.
10. All the goddamned acronyms and abbreviations. I can conduct entire conversations or meetings in caps now.
11. Civil service-ese in email: "revert" wrongly used instead of "respond", "pl speak" oddly used instead of "let's discuss this", and "fair" archaically used instead of "proofread" or "check for errors". As in:
"Pl speak. The proposal is incomplete. On the other paper, pl fair before sending to the next level for clearance.
Separately, inputs needed from your team on next month's workshop. Pl revert to So-and-so by Monday."
12. The bureaucracy.
13. The bureaucrats.

I tried to make the latter list longer, but I really couldn't come up with that many things I really, truly loathed about my last three years.
"We're taking a moment ... and we're done."
--- Oz, of graduating high school, in "Becoming Part Two", Buffy the Vampire Slayer


What I learned this Xmas

  • That Ondine is a fiend when it comes to playing chua dai dee (local card game where the object is to get rid of all your cards, somewhat adapted from poker).
  • That Wahj's body is as flexible as a teenage Russian gymnast's.
  • That Terz can whip up a tasty pineapple sauce but won't eat it 'cause he doesn't eat pineapple.
  • That sio bak (Chinese roasted fatty pork) can be the perfect complement to an otherwise fairly traditional Xmas lunch spread of turkey, ham and roast beef.
  • That the boys will bring laptops and play Medal of Honor anywhere, even on Xmas night.
  • That you really can't keep red wine for five years in Singapore room temperature and not have it turn to vinegar --- even if it's your wedding wine.
  • That Royce chocolates, for all the accompanying Japlish packaging, are melt-in-your-mouth perfect.
  • That Boxing Day shopping crowds in Orchard Road are nowhere as bad as their Xmas Eve counterparts --- though it could also be that Singapore stores don't have as spectacular post-Xmas sales as they do in the US.
  • That acts of god don't take Xmas off.


Catching up on Xmas Eve

We just returned from a highly untraditional Xmas Eve dinner --- Teochew moi (porridge) at our neighbourhood coffeeshop. This way, we can be sure we won't be sick of turkey before Xmas proper.

People keep asking me why I haven't updated the blog this week. No time lah!

First, there was the three days of being sick, despite taking the prescribed medication; I only felt better on the last day of antibiotics. While this didn't prevent me from celebrating G's wedding, it threw a major wrench in the works after the wedding dinner, when we're all up in the bridal suite, surrounded by bottles and bottles of wine (among others, a highly recommended red and a highly expensive and tasty muscat), and I can't touch a drop. I even got Sprite to SMS her doctor brother to verify one last time that I really couldn't have any alcohol with my antibiotics --- and he averred promptly that yea, it was so.

So I consoled myself by soaking for a good hour in the bathtub the next morning --- which, if you know the rooms at the Ritz-Carlton, means that it was a very nice tub indeed. (Okay, not as nice as the one in the link, because I wasn't going to pay $200 for a fancy bath, but you get the idea.)

By Wednesday, I was back at work. Oh, that project? That I was so excited about? That was all I worked on for the last three weeks? That I've poured heart and soul into? Deadline for completion: indefinite. It'll see light of day, eventually, but meanwhile things have ground to a frustrating halt --- after all the rush, rush, rush that went into it earlier. I'll be glad to wash my hands of it.

Oh, I haven't yet. I'm on leave next week but will go back to work on Tuesday for one last meeting. Yeah, I'm still feeling virtuous.

As for the new job, it turns out I probably don't have to go for any meetings next week other than the usual staff conference on New Year's Eve, but I will be teaching graduating classes next year. Aieeee! The first topic is media and culture, fortunately; that's what I'd get a Master's degree in, if I ever had money to burn on that sorta thing, so I should be able to cook something up for the first day of school.

What little remaining free time I had this week was spent braving the Xmas shopping crowds. I was in town Wednesday, Thursday and today, and today was actually the least painful of them all. I even braved the first day of the annual Mango sale yesterday, since all the girls in the office were going at lunchtime. What better way to round up the last week of work, eh?

This year's unofficial Xmas theme song seems to be "All I Want for Christmas is You". It haunts me no matter which store I enter and then I find myself humming it hours later. It's like the Xmas version of that stupid song that gets into my head every National Day.

And the prize for the best gift to throw into a gift exchange goes to Casey: he found a door-stop (as in, something you put against an open room door to prop it open) in the shape of a cute (but not too cute) little dog. Suits all ages, all genders --- basically, anyone who lives in an abode with doors and who doesn't hate dogs. How is that not a win?

Merry Xmas, everybody!


Fever + diarrhoea = ?

Since Wednesday night, I've been pondering the mysteries of this equation. This morning, my friendly neighbourhood doctor informs me that it's probably an evil gastroenteritis flu of some sort and doses me up with antibiotics. This means that while I will not spend most of G's wedding tomorrow either hunched over with intestinal pain or passed out from a fever, I will also not be able to drink a drop of wine. Dammit!

Just after Sprite and Dan gave us two bottles of Absolut (one Mandarin, one Vanilla) too!

Nevertheless, went to work on Thursday and Friday, and felt very virtuous (that's a gratuitous Bridget Jones reference for Nardac's enjoyment). Will feel even more virtuous next week, since the project completion schedule has been pushed back and now infringes on my leave plans. It's a good thing for the bosses that I a) give a damn about this project, and b) get along so well with the account manager and the team --- or I'd be really growly right now.

Tonight, we're bound for Sunset Grill. Since Kris and I are getting our nails done in the afternoon, it'll be tricky for us to partake of Jerry's famed buffalo wings --- unless we convince the husbands to peel them for us (hint, hint!)...

Oh wait, what did the doctor say about avoiding deep-fried and oily food?


Alone in my cubicle

May this be the last time I blog this late from the office.

Yes, it's the project. Things transpired during the meeting that I was ill-dressed for, so I had to work late. I'm not blind from proofreading yet, but I'm getting well nigh there. Plus there were other things transpiring to compete for attention.

Off to a well-earned drink --- or three.

Serendipity's evil twin strikes again

What I wore to work today:
  • Purple tanktop
  • Red cardigan over to disguise it
  • Swishy black skirt --- suitable for work, but not what I'd wear to an Important Meeting
  • Black choker with red flower piece
  • Aforementioned strappy sandals with vaguely bouncy flowers
Who I have to meet today: The Boss. Naturally. And this time, an even bigger one than from last Friday.

I should just start dressing up so that I stop having these impromptu meetings.


More clearing of the desk ensued today, while I waited for the next round of proofs for my project to arrive. Among the artefacts unearthed from clearing a second heap of paper:
  • Early cuts of the corporate video, with accompanying scripts --- damn, we went through a lot of iterations with that. I'd nearly forgotten how painful it all was.
  • Numerous certificates of course attendance --- I lament only the poor trees, that died in vain for such an ignoble end.
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People --- ugh. That's 3 days of my life I'll never get back.
  • Mouldy biscuits, in a tupperware that I'm going to soak in boiling water and disinfect and possibly request that my mother bless with for one last dash of household benediction before I use it again.
The proofs still aren't in, so I'm off to shred paper now.


"Want. Take. Have."

If only it were that simple.


  • New PDA - to replace my Clie, which has a wilting battery life. Currently considering the Zire 31 because it should fit into my budget of "a couple of hundred dollars".
    Why is a PDA a "need"? Because when I didn't enter the details of 2 meetings in my PDA, I completely forgot they existed, even though I was doing all the work involved --- until the people I was supposed to meet called and were like, "Uh, you're not coming to our meeting today?" Because without my PDA, I wouldn't realise the egregious amounts of money I spend every week and panic in time to rescue my bank account. Because my whole life is in my PDA and I no longer have a properly functioning memory.
  • New cellphone - to become the new personal cellphone next year, so that current personal phone can become next year's work phone. (I'll have to return the current work phone when I leave the job at year's end.)
    I've been carrying two cellphones now for the past three years, which has come in exceedingly useful not only when one is dropped down the toilet, but also when the work phone rings and a few seconds' of steeling oneself before answering can make all the difference. It also maintains the purity of vacations, since my personal phone autoroams but the work one won't.


  • iPod!!! 'Nuff said.
  • iBook --- to replace the quavering, unstable PC I use at home. Why isn't Apple Centre bundling these two together, dammit?

Allow me to channel Stellou for a moment: The story about Apple Centre is: I went in some time this week to fondle the 12" iBook, then purposefully asked a competent-looking black-shirted employee if there were any bundles for the iBook with an iPod. "No." Any idea if you'll be doing that? You did that back in June... "No." No smile, no attempt to engage me on the virtues of paying full price for both, no query if there was anything else he could help me with. CHEH! Maybe next time must wear a tanktop to get the boys' attention.

I did get my year-end bonus, but it looks so pretty in my savings account, I'm loath to break it up just yet. Instead, I'm idly surfing product websites, calculating, calculating...


Blast from the past

I got an email today, writing "in reference to your website, regarding 'Nada, Zippo, Zilch' looking [sic] maternity wear" and recommending that I take a look at the writer's local maternity wear website. I was going to do just that, when I realised that I couldn't recall writing recently about the dearth of maternity wear in Singapore. Admittedly, I still rant briefly about it from time to time, but a phrase like "Nada, zippo, zilch"? Hasn't crossed this blog's past at all, not even taking into account the old 2001-2002 posts that I'm slowly migrating over here.

And then it dawns on me to search among the really old stuff I used to write, and lo! there it was. The "Nada, Zippo, Zilch" webpage in question was written more than four years ago. Again, admittedly not much has changed since that time: maternity wear in Singapore is still, on average, pretty bleak stuff and the local government is still trying to figure out how to convince folks to have more babies. But I guess the writer missed the part where the date I wrote the piece is published right under its title. And sent me her email anyway. Which is a strange thing to do, in my book, but maybe when you're starting up an e-commerce site, you do what you gotta do.

Which still doesn't mean she gets a gratuitous link off this blog post, because I'm a little doubtful about people who don't check when webpages were last updated before shooting off their emails. Just because something's on the internet doesn't make it still true, still believed, still representational.

Even if I still hate local maternity wear and that's a big reason for not going down the pregnancy path.


Serendipity's evil twin

Naturally, on the day that I am wearing a top that looks like it's been salvaged from the karang guni (rag and bone) man, a skirt more suited to chilling out at a bar than going to work in the civil service, and sandals with vaguely bouncy flowers on them --- that's when I'm peremptorily summoned to a meeting with the Big Boss.

Fortunately, I don't think he cared.

I bought three suits when I took this job, but the last time I wore one was ... actually, I can't remember when that was. It might've been last year. Alas, I don't think I'll get any money for them, even on eBay.


A blog post to break the silence

I'm down to my tenth last day at this job, which means I can accept with impunity a long-distance phone call from Stellou on the office line and natter on for at least half an hour. It was only when I saw the darkened reflection of a bosslet on my monitor screen and realised she was waiting to speak to me, that I hurriedly rang off. I wonder if the bosslet heard the part where I was egging Stellou on to get a job, so that she can offer me one in turn when my scholarship bond winds up next year.

Got dragooned to New Asia Bar again last night, this time by friends of Northwestern friends who are in town for a wedding. It was less of a melting pot than the last time, more predictably the local-expat mix that you'd expect to be the clientele at a place that charges 1½ times the regular price of drinks because it's 71 stories above the city. The DJ also inexplicably spun a lot of '80s music; apparently, what people really want to dance to these days is "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go".

Next time, as C said, we'll pick someplace more chill, where we can, y'know, actually talk.

After weeks of assiduous experimentation, I've finally derived my magic formula for drinking enough on weeknights to be happy, while retaining moderate functionality at work the next day. The answer: 4 vodka drinks. Any less, not enough buzz; any more (unless the drinks are really watered down), and I might throw up (yes, call me a cheap date, cousin!), derailing the whole point of imbibery. 4 vodka drinks puts me nicely to sleep by the time I get home, and the alcohol wears off just in time for me to spring awake shortly after dawn, so that I can still get to work at a decent hour and function respectably.

Of course, this whole formula might have to be reworked when I'm teaching next year and I have to be awake before dawn to get to work on time...


Cooling one's heels

As I strolled in to work today, I realised that I have only thirteen more days of this: thirteen more days of waking some time between 7.00 and 7.45 am, of taking the train cross-island with the morning rush hour suits, of clipping on my security pass so that the guards at the elevator lobby won't harrass me, of sinking into my little nest of a cubicle and clicking on the computer. Who'd've thought I'd get sentimental about this gray stonewall of a fortress?

Didn't have much to do this morning, so I cleared out one heap of paper. Three heaps to go, and a bunch of files to pass on to people taking over the different areas of my work, before the desk's wiped clean, anonymous, blank. Since we don't have a car, I'll have to orchestrate a cab ride to bring home all my personal odds'n'ends --- or maybe just gradually take small bags of things with me everyday during my last week here.

Last Friday, I bought cake for the office, a newish farewell tradition started by EH before she left. There was Lana chocolate cake (to satisfy my months-long craving), a cheesecake from NYDC and an ice cream cake from Swensen's. So everyone got to start the weekend on a sugar high and/or with new cavities. Sadly, I wasn't going straight home that night, so I couldn't bag the remainder Lana cake. I magnanimously handed it off to colleagues who have children instead --- I'm all about equal opportunity tooth decay, I tell ya.


"A National Geographic program, but on people"

In Before Sunrise, Jesse tells Celine about his wacky idea for a cable access TV show:
JESSE: And I have this idea for this show that would last 24 hours a day for a year straight, right? What you do, is you get 365 people from cities all over the world, to do these 24-hour documents of real time, right, capturing life as its lived. Um, you know, it would start with, uh, a guy waking up in the morning, and, uh, y'know, taking a long shower, eating a little breakfast, making a little coffee, you know, and, uh, reading the paper.
CELINE: Wait, wait. All those mundane, boring things everybody has to do everyday of their fucking life?
JESSE: I was going to say the poetry of day to day life, but, you know, you say the way you say it, I'll say it the way I say it...
Nine years on, we've got blogs.

Couch potato

While Packrat and Sprite were out running a quarter-marathon, I parked myself on the couch and:

  • Watched Before Sunrise and Before Sunset back to back;
  • Watched three episodes of The West Wing;
  • Wrote 21 Xmas cards;
  • Watched one episode of Gilmore Girls; and
  • Watched one episode of good old Season Three Buffy (though only to have something to do while I ate my dinner).
Could a girl watch any more TV in one day?


When the cookie crumbles ---

--- It makes perfect sense to get another cookie to replace it, even though I ate most of the first one before the last mouthful tumbled from my palm and smashed onto the floor below the computer.

So now I've had three cookies before bed, instead of two. No milk, though; I never got into that American habit.


It is a very uncanny thing to have the clothes dryer and CD player come to a stop at precisely the same instant --- as if the household appliances were in cahoots to say, "All done! No more music! No more dirty clothes! Now get off the couch and do something!"

There's an old man who lives in my neighbourhood
Who has three maids
They help him take his evening constitutional
And every now and then they'll all four stop and talk and giggle (well, the girls do) and chat
It's nice.

4 consecutive nights of drinking = running only 3.4 km today before I couldn't go any further. Dammit!

My friend David has a photography show at Sixth Avenue. Go see, quick!

A good 100-question marathon to while away a Saturday night: The Ultimate '80s Quiz (link via Rogue Slayer Law Student Movie Fan). I only scored 61, so I only get to be Knight Rider-esque...

Bookmark this page --- it may save your bladder the next time you're Down Under (link via Caterina.net).



At dinner last night, EH took one look at the image on my cellphone and prompted handed off the phone to me, as though it were infected with the fleas of a thousand camels. It was just these little darlings:

Originally uploaded by Tym.

Hee hee hee.


That time of the year again

Just a quick note to my fellow LotR fans: the trailer for the Return of the King Extended Edition is available right here (link via Rosmar). 5 min 28 secs, 35 MB, lots of pretty stuff to get excited over (and I don't just mean Eowyn).

I'm going to find out from Gramophone later when they get their first sets in...