Thursday, December 24, 2009

A story, a song

If you see a girl with a treble clef at her throat or a grand piano around her wrist, this might be the story behind it.

My being at the markets is a rare occurrence, and my buying things (non-food, non-essential) things at them is even rarer because Sydney craft markets tend to be expensive. But on this cloudy, UV-heavy Saturday I had set aside a small amount of mad money to be used in the event that I saw something I liked.

Well, that didn't happen.

I did see and buy something -- two things -- but not because I liked them. It was so much more than liking them at sight; I knew they were mine long before I even saw them. Does that sound like something a stalker would say? Fine, then. As long as all I'm stalking is small objects of 925 silver, I think society can handle it.

For a few weeks, I'd been wanting a new item of jewellery that had something to do with music -- something that I don't just love, but rely on. Come to think of it, I see music the way my mother viewed coffee. I can quote her, practically verbatim: "Coffee is my everything. It gets me up in the morning and helps me to sleep at night. When I'm at work coffee perks me up and helps me stay focused."

Hearing variations of the same theme on almost a daily basis for years is bound to make one memorise that theme.

But just substitute "music" in there and you have me. OK, I know music isn't my everything because I also have dance and chocolate and reading and lavender and fluffy animals and all the other things that have the same effects on me, but music means a lot to me. I know I am in really, really bad shape when I won't sing and won't listen to a song. Ironically, the cure for that state usually involves forcing myself to do either one or both.

Anyway, I had been reflecting for a few weeks on how much music means to me, and I'm a girl, so my mind tends to wander over to jewellery when considering ways to commemorate something so significant. I did my research, but everything I saw was either cheap and hideously distasteful (according to my taste) or exorbitantly exquisite. Since I am at present, but hopefully not for much longer, still a Mostly Unemployed Student, I couldn't afford the latter and wouldn't settle for the former. I stopped looking and decided it could wait until that one day when everything would fit into place and I'd see something I could afford and could wear in public without first having to sign a blood pact with some clan organisation.

So, when I spotted the treble clef in a tray of silver odds and ends, you may imagine that I felt someone had placed it there for me. The price was friendly, and I got out my wallet to pay. And then my eyes fell on...

... the grand piano.

A tiny silver grand piano.

See, another dream of mine, years older than the one of owning a piece of music-themed jewellery, is to own a grand piano.

Although that most probably will happen one day, clearly it hasn't happened yet. And given the way things had been going of late, my faith as it stood that warm December day was rather too depleted to reach the grand-piano compartment in my trunkful of dreams.

I knew I had to get the piano, too. I got the two charms for a song (bet you saw that one coming!), less than I'd budgeted for just one. And, along with the answer to my recent quest, I got a hint to my future, a key to not being so Cranky and Easily Upset over facing my post-Master's future.

I'd gone to the market that morning to accompany a friend who'd placed it on her Must Do While In Sydney list. I'd prepared myself to browse and not buy. I'd allocated an amount of spending money so small that I wasn't expecting to find anything in that price range. In the same way, I'd shrunk the space around my self. I'd made myself into something that filled the cracks in my clients' and friends' lives, but didn't have a lot left over for me. I concluded that what I wanted might have to wait, so in the meantime, why not treat it like an aimless walk through a market full of beautiful objects that I couldn't afford?

As I walked away with my new treasures, cheap trinkets to anybody else, I saw how it was about so much more than jewellery. I learnt that day about knowing that my dreams are remembered. And that the desires of my heart are recorded, even when I've given up on receiving them.

If you see a girl with a treble clef at her throat or a grand piano around her wrist, this might be the story behind it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A change of heart

"I hope you never hear those words. Your mom. She died. They are different than [sic] other words. They are too big to fit in your ears." (Mitch Albom, For One More Day)

All right, so his grammar isn't perfect and his book editor didn't pick it up either (these Americans... sniff) but Albom kind of hit the nail on the head. These aren't nice words to hear.

But I have had to hear them, or words to their effect.

Fortunately, my version was kinder. My ears didn't feel the slightest bit enlarged or bombarded, because I knew before I reached home that day ten years ago. I knew even while I was driving home from uni, knew there was no harm in dropping my car-pool friends off because I wasn't going to make it in time to say goodbye anyway. I knew the moment I walked in the door and the afternoon quiet was a different sort of afternoon quiet, a stillness that felt as though someone had flung an invisible film over everything and even the cobwebs under the stairs were banned from quivering in the wind. I knew when I saw my brother come down the stairs, as though he'd been waiting to hear my car. Waiting to meet me the moment I walked in the door so that I would not have to ask. Waiting to come close, look me in the eye and whisper, "Mummy's dead."

I have never spoken of that moment to anyone. It got lost in the jungle of officious tasks that materialises when a family member dies. We had a very distraught grandma and aunt to tend to, phone calls to make, authorities to notify. Soon enough, everybody who mattered knew that my mum had passed away. How I found out became an insignificant detail not to be bothered with.

I think that's how part of me, too, got lost in that jungle, a teenager bewildered by the sudden reality of life without her best friend.

It's comforting to know that that part of me was never lost alone, though, because my brother has always been in my memory of that moment. And out of everyone in my family, I can think of nobody I would rather have to break the news to me. For my boisterous, energetic, umm, hefty brother can also be my gentle, sensitive, tender brother when occasion requires.

Occasion did require, and he didn't fall short.

I don't know why I felt I had to write this post. It must be important if it's got me out of bed after midnight. Maybe it's that I know, even now as festive songs jangle in my head and I can't step out on the streets without passing a car that has antlers and a red nose, that sometime in your life, you are probably going to have to hear those words too. And if I don't write this post now I never will, and you'll never read it, and then how will it help you when you need it?

I pray that whenever your turn comes, you will have as gracious a messenger as I did.

I know. The timing of this post really does seem a little incongruous with the season. But life and death don't seem to respect our preference for convenience and congruity. I had to accept -- or should have accepted -- that fact when my mother died a week before Christmas Eve. I think ten years is long enough to spend being angry with God for his apparent bad timing. More than long enough.

As misleading as it looked to begin with, this post is a joyous one, and filled with thanks that I am finally able to express with no strings attached. I think the gratefulness only came, could only have come, when I stepped off my "Yes, God, I do know better than you, and that's why I have a right to say your timing sucks" high horse and admitted that no, I don't know better because I don't have a clue at all.

It isn't as though I don't miss my mother this time of year, because our family had some crazy (in a good way... mostly) Christmases back in the day. But even taking into account the trees, the presents, the food, the cousins, the music and the laughter and the colour and the not being able to sleep and not being able to tell whether it was from overexcitement, indigestion or the fact that 14 people were crammed into our made-for-six-at-the-most-any-more-and-you're-pushing-it home, taking aaaalllll of that into account, I am able to say with all my heart that I know I am blessed and that for every tear I have cried, I'm going to have some massive smiles. And then some. I've checked, it does work that way.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I met a new client for the first time the other day.

"You're the one who phoned to make the appointment?" she exclaimed. "On the phone, I had this impression of you as English and blonde."

I didn't know whether to feel insulted. Decided not to be, even if I should.

A few days later, at church we were setting up in a different room from the usual and I couldn't get the keyboard to switch on. We swapped plug outlets. We moved the entire setup to an extension plugged into the outlet across the room. I jiggled the cord every which way, because the contact even on the best of days is very poor. But none of it worked and now I was getting absolutely nothing, not even a blink from the display.

And then I popped around behind the keyboard and discovered I had plugged the adaptor in to the pedal jack.

Maybe my voice knows something I don't.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dance therapy

Last Monday, I had an unexpected day off from placement. Thus I found myself at the Broadway Jazz class that I almost never get to take because of certain clients who can only meet me after office hours. This instructor's choreography is usually a little precious (I guess that's to be expected, given what the class is called) but still a nice balance between challenging enough to be fun, and easy enough to get a good workout out of it.

So, since I had all this excess energy from a restful weekend with malfunctioning stovetops sparking merrily just eight feet from my bed, that sort of thing, I went for the routine with more gusto than usual. I had exited the spin and was going for the big fist-in-the-air ending when I heard and felt a glorious crack.

I thought I'd injured myself dancing, and it would not have been the first time, but a split second later I realised I wasn't in pain, I was out of it.

Five whole years after its onset, to be exact. One morning in 2004 I woke up with my neck out of joint, and it never quite seemed to go back. A change in pillows and several visits to a Chinese sinseh acclaimed for his joint work, not to mention countless Thai massages and chiropractic adjustments, didn't improve it. For five years I had gone through life with a neck that only turned about 35 degrees to the left before creakily, crankily giving up and making me pay the price in pain and discomfort.

All that's in the past now. It's been a week and I still have the same mobility. I was always puzzled by how a seemingly simple problem (according to the professionals who, nonetheless, were never able to fix it) had managed to remain for so many years. Now I am equally perplexed by the fact that it only got fixed through my being in this particular city, having signed up as a member of this particular gym, taking this particular class because on this particular day my counselling placement centre was closed at the last minute to give its staff a rest after their Christmas carnival.

I always knew that dance was healing...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When in the city...

This city, at any rate...

... you might want to wander on down to David Jones to look at their animated festive store windows.

Some of the figures are looking a little frazzled. RSI, perhaps, from doing the same limited gesture several times a minute, all the live long day?

But still, they're nice enough to look at while wishing that one's two-year-old nephew were conveniently in town so that one could take him (and the whole family, yes adults too, no I haven't forgotten that I also have adult family members) out to enjoy the sights. Fortunately, although I do miss him more than I can express, I don't need to have a token Small Person with me in order to enjoy something childish in public. Considering that up to a couple of months ago I officially Hated Christmas and would have walked away from any sign of decorations and festive music, it's a miracle that yesterday saw me happily snapping away.

Lion royalty and out-of-scale jungle animals apparently celebrating that "the Lord is come" in the 'Joy to the World' window.

Starfish trio accompanying 'I Saw Three Ships'. I love their teensy weensy score that was probably all of 3cm tall.

Detail of pig guests, penguin waiter and cat fiddler from 'Good King Wenceslas'.

I have many more pictures and a couple of videos, but given the way Blogger has been behaving today, I don't think it deserves for me to spend any more time with it.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The sago sage

These are some of the things you might learn when you set out to make a batch of melon sago dessert for the monthly after-service lunch at church.

First, you might learn that three and a half hours is about three hours too long to soak dried sago pearls. If you had planned to "save time" by putting them to soak before you leave the house for an appointment, don't. Just... don't.

Next, maybe you will find that it's best to cook the pearls in a pot with as large a base as possible. This will enable you to stir the whole pot evenly, reaching all of the pearls at the bottom. This way, you won't have them overcook and stick to the bottom, leaving you with a steadily growing lump of starch. You might come to this conclusion by having first tried to cook one cup of sago in a 6" saucepan.

Third, it's possible that you will find you urgently need to think of a way to rinse cooked sago when you are alone and have nobody to help you spoon the sticky grains out of the pot and into the strainer. The solution will need to be reached quickly, before the sago cooks itself into unsalvageable starchiness like the batch before.

Fourth, you might learn to pray like never before.

Fifth, you may discover that it can take a very long time to prepare two melons. This is especially true if you choose, instead of simply cutting the melon into cubes, to use a flower-shaped vegetable cutter, and you insist that only perfectly formed flowers get to escape the pulp pile.

Sixth, there is a possibility, ever so slight, that you will have first-hand experience of the ugliest and most orange kitchen encounter ever: Ripe Melon Meets Stab Mixer in a Not-Too-Shallow Bowl That Still Just Isn't Deep Enough.

Seventh, you might learn that a small test bowl of the dessert is not only a good way to gauge the result and make sure that you won't be presenting any nasty surprises to your church members; it's also a good supper for someone who gave up eating dinner in favour of boiling sago and pulverising melons.

Finally, you might see the broad grins and hear the chatter of a church that you almost walked out on because it was too painful... and maybe you'll figure that staying through the pain was worth the joy of being here now. Just as all of that soaking (okay, some of the soaking), boiling, rinsing, straining, cutting, chopping and blending was worth the sight of those happy smiles.

Gifts from afar

My loot from Singapore. Multi-yarn scarf from Maggie; sticker sheet, mug cover (topped with a CAT! A coy eyelash-batting grey cat! It doesn't get much better than that), and instant hot pack with token Engrish phrases from Michelle.

"So that you have no more spider incidents," was the explanation for the mug cover.

Thank you, dears. It makes the distance between Sydney, Singapore and Perth a little more negligible.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Love that hair (no cut)

I have been hearing this one statement a lot lately. By a lot, I mean almost everyone I meet, even people I only just met a couple of days before.

"Love that haircut!"

Which is funny, because I haven't had a haircut. Not since April, anyway, when I was back in KL for all of 20 days... actually, that's not true. It wasn't all of 20 days, because two of those days were spent in Singapore, and with the nine hours of travel time that trip involved, it brings my total time in KL down to about 17 days.

When you know that time is limited, you account for every minute like a miser counting pennies. In any case, my hair has not been cut in a good while.

And it's funny, because for weeks I have been toying with the idea of having it cut. Now it seems I've somehow arrived at the desired result without having to go through the not-so-desired process. I especially do not enjoy the part where I hand over my hard-won money while wondering whether my instructions ("trim an inch off the ends") were too complicated.

So no, I haven't had my hair cut... but thanks for the compliments. My "hairdresser" does a great job, with everything in my life. Hair is just the crowning point.

And off I run before you grab a tomato to sling at me for attempting a bad pun ending.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wanted: Equilibrium

Challenge of the moment: finding the balance between resting the ol' brain after the many years of intense overwork, and still functioning enough to do all of the thinking, writing and deciding that needs to be done.

After a lifetime of being forced into positions where I had to take everything (myself included) oh so seriously, I'm tempted to throw it all to the wind, be irresponsible and frivolous for perhaps the first time in my life.

But I don't know how to do irresponsible and frivolous! Help me, somebody.

Friday, November 27, 2009


... with a chance of...


Pork meatballs with carrot, leek and onion, made from scratch without a recipe. *pats self on back*

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finished, Part II.

It is DONE! In the assignment box and away they go.

Goodbye, academic writing! So long, hours of tedious research! Maybe we'll meet again.


Friday, November 06, 2009

I'm too alone in the world, yet not alone enough
to make each hour holy.
I'm too small in the world, yet not small enough
to be simply in your presence, like a thing --
just as it is.

I want to know my own will
and to move with it.
And I want, in the hushed moments
when the nameless draws near,
to be among the wise ones --
or alone.

I want to mirror your immensity.
I want never to be too weak or too old
to bear the heavy, lurching image of you.

I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.
I want to stay clear in your sight.

I would describe myself
like a landscape I've studied
at length, in detail;
like a word I'm coming to understand;
like a pitcher I pour from at mealtime;
like my mother's face;
like a ship that carried me
when the waters raged.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Finished, Part I.

Just like that, the last class is over.

An anticlimactic end to two excessively painful years of attending lectures.

I went grocery shopping right after, and "accidentally" ended up in one of my favourite stationery shops "along the way" to the supermarket. (The car was parked on Level 1, the supermarket's on the ground floor and the stationery shop is on Level 3, but still I insist it was on the way.)

When the salesboy asked how I am today, instead of the usual "Good, thanks", I blurted out, "I just finished my Master's!"

Even though, technically, I won't actually finish until I've handed in those last two papers and completed 70 more clinical hours. I sheepishly added those details.

But still, I got a high-five and a spirited "Mazel tov!"

That'll do for now.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I think I should quickly wind up and go to sleep.

Part of my 3,000-word research report that I'm evidently typing faster than I can think:

"Evaluating the work of Singhal (2004) and Rastogi & Wampler (1999) in toto, it would appear that we're not in Kansas anymore."

Toto, Kansas, geddit?

Hopefully once I start sleeping more like a normal person again, I will be more like a normal person again.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Build a better sandwich

Dear body,

Have I ever told you that I appreciate all that you do to support me? You put up with my self-inflicted late nights that arise from my need to go the extra mile in all of my work, even when the sanest thing to do is aim straight for a Pass and go to bed.

You enable me to spin, kick, jump, twirl, dip and all sorts of other bizarre things in the name of what I call "dance".

You walk me to some places and drive me to others, all while ensuring that I don't trip on the pavement (which I have done before) or collide with a parked car (which I have also done before) in my fatigue.

In appreciation, I would like you to enjoy being fuelled with the best food I can afford.

However, you know I am a very intermittently employed full-time student and so the best that I can afford is usually not very fancy.

Also, although I have pulled off some pretty impressive kitchen stunts, I have also been known to fail splendidly.

Still, I will try my best and sometimes, the results will surprise us both.

When I am pressed for time, you will have to put up with sandwiches. But they might be astonishingly good sandwiches that leave me a little incredulous. Can anything this good come out of Ren's kitchen?

And when I have the luxury of a whole weekend morning, you might get to enjoy a more lavish plate without me rushing you on to our next appointment.

Either way, this is my way of saying thank you, not so much to you as to the One who created you -- or is that me? Well, us. Because according to some people, this is the way to live.

The rest of me

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ancient and present

"All nations surround me; in the name of the LORD I will surely cut them off." (Psalm 118:10)

I don't know about nations, but I am definitely surrounded by work. Files on my right, books on my left and behind me and on my coffee table and under my desk. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the masses and masses of things calling out for attention, easy to trip over them, easy to forget the perspective that I had but recently.

"In the name of the LORD..." and in no other...

"... I will surely cut them off." No research paper is too daunting. I can say to the challenge of completing all of this work in such a short time, "You pushed me violently so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me" (Psalm 118:13).

Yes, in these last weeks my postgrad degree has come to resemble some kind of malevolent wild predator in my mind, hence the Facebook status messages about hunting and capturing and shooting. For a mostly non-violent person, I am becoming very bloodthirsty. (It's what happens when you take a lifelong daydreamer, have her be a writer for 13 years, and then train her in narrative therapy. Inevitable.) But instead of asking "Who's stalking whom?", I shall just answer the question with, "I'll win."

And I will win.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


That pretty much describes the state of my mind at present. I cannot believe how difficult and time-consuming it's been to watch my counselling DVD. And I haven't even got to work writing my critique, this is just watching the video of me in practice and I'm already groaning with fatigue.

I wonder what this says about me. Get me to see six clients in a seven-hour span on a single day, and I'll gladly do it. Ask me to co-facilitate an anger group at a time normally reserved for dinner and quality time with a book, and I'll do that, too. Not only because I need the hours but because I love the time that I spend with clients. But make me record myself counselling and then watch it in detail? I would rather run around my apartment building while barking. Or hand-wash every single tea towel I own. Or manually shred two kilos of carrots for cake. Not that any of those things will earn me a pass for this subject.

I sure hope my lecturer doesn't feel this drained when it's time for her to view the video.

Blargh. So depleted, I wander off to find something fun to do before I embark on Part II: Writing the Critique.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Of all the titles Andrew Lloyd Weber has to choose for his sequel to Phantom, he has to go and rip off our song title from Drunk Before Dawn. Are there really so few words in the English language? How about Love Lives On? More optimistic, isn't it? BAH.

(I'm not bitter, oh no I'm not. Why should I mind that a world-famous composer happened to pick the title of a song I co-wrote to be the title of his new, no doubt extravagantly produced and wildly popular musical? Why, indeed? Really, one has better things to do around here. Like maybe finish packing and tidying up so as not to miss one's flight to Melbourne.)

I really should go close that suitcase.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Time to breathe...

I know, breathing is something I do whether or not I have the time to focus on it. But the past few weeks have made me appreciate the privilege that is sitting (or lying, but that usually leads to another sort of physiological activity that is becoming a bit too automatic these days... snooooore) down with nothing to do.

I finally passed the 100-client-hour mark at noon yesterday. I am now only 98 hours away from completing my requirement to graduate (apart from the countless papers I need to write, classes to attend, presentations I need to give and should have given by now if not for my beautifully tired mind convincing me that it was scheduled for Week 9, not Week 8).

In huffing and puffing my way to that dazzling goal of 200 client hours, I had begun to forget what that means: 200, 2 x 100 x 60 minutes. Well, 50, because 10 minutes out of each session are for the counsellor to reflect alone. Two hundred hours with clients. I had lost touch with the overwhelmingly scary magic that is counselling. My clients are real people with real needs that brought them here... the tears that get released sometimes (and I am thankful for a bottomless supply of tissues at my placement) are authentic.

While negotiating the blind curves of my life at breakneck speed, I think I've lost a few pieces of baggage... some of it for the better, some at the expense of my knowing myself more fully. I'd begun to forget who I am and what I'm doing here. Sometimes I wonder, in the morning as I pack two meals for a whole day at the centre: how on earth did I get here? Who is this person who listens to clients, nods silently at times and throws them daring challenges at others? What makes it OK for these people to place their trust in me? (Apparently, the fact that my supervisor recommended that they see me is enough. And I'm grateful, because how else would I complete the 200 hours? But still, the facet of my personality that I fondly call Thomas demands of me: What makes you think that you can help these people? Are you a safe receptacle for their questions, disappointments and dreams? Exactly who do you think you are, coming into people's lives like that? [Even though technically, it is they who draw me into their lives through the courage to talk... but Thomas doesn't seem to appreciate that.])

The fact that I doubt is probably the most ridiculous part of all this, because it goes to show that I still believe I'm the one doing all the work. How arrogant I am, to think that I could change anyone for the better. It's like walking up to a sculptor and telling her chisel, "Nice job" or "That's not a good likeness". I've been so caught up in worry over whether I'm a good chisel that I've forgotten to look at what's being done by the one who holds me in his hand, using me to bring out more of his likeness in my clients. The performance anxiety, harm anxiety and "Can-I-reach-200-hours-by-February-so-I-can-graduate" anxiety pale in light of the fact that for reasons only God fully knows, he wants me to be here, now, with these people whose lives I am honoured to share.

And how light my shoulders feel as I breathe in the relief of that truth.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Today as history

It's almost over now. When it has passed, what will I remember about this day?

Getting out of bed and sidling up to my favourite mug for my morning drink of water. Idly pouring said water into mug and taking a hearty slurp. Wondering momentarily why my water was so hairy. How can so much of my hair have got into my mouth? I'm wearing a hairband, for crying out loud. Why is the hair moving? What- has it got... legs?

I spit, faster and with more vigour than a Nyonya matriarch chewing sireh. A bedraggled spider landed in the sink and began its drunken, tottering walk to safety. I decided my safety was worth more (apologies to environmentalists, but I tend to place my survival above that of the white-tail spider) and drowned it in a bowl of water.

In that horror-film-worthy second or so when my groggy mind was reconciling itself to the fact that there had been a live (and lively! Oh, how it jigged! How it wiggled its little hairy arachnoid legs!) spider in my mouth, my mind also flickered to everything I know about Australian spiders, which is not a lot. I know some can kill with a single bite. Oh, lovely. I briefly wondered how long it would take people to realise they hadn't seen me around for a while, and which one of them would eventually find me, still as an Indian summer night. My forehead would be on the kitchen floor and there would be a spider in my mouth, my lips swollen to B-grade Hollywood standards. Oh. Luv-uh-ly.

Several anxious mirror-gazing moments later, I decided with relief that my lips were not any puffier than usual, and there were no puncture marks. The only casualty was floating in a white porcelain bowl in my kitchen sink.

Somehow, I think I will remember those first few moments of my day more vividly than the Tax Office errands, the BodyJam class, the farewell wishes to my favourite gym instructor, the last-minute research for the paper due to be presented tomorrow. I might remember the crumbed miso fish more clearly than all these, but only because it pleasantly took my lips' thoughts away from memories of those scraggly legs frantically searching for escape.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The things I'd do...

Funny, the things you learn about yourself from browsing old pictures and journals.

I found this in my picture archives.

I once made this stuffed bacteria as a medical client's birthday present. I kind of miss those days of sewing happy, functionless objects.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Just when I think I'm running on empty

How do you define "burnout"? I've always thought of it as one of those unpleasant places that you only recognise when you're stranded there, which is how I still feel most of the time. Another one of life's ironies, to be a counsellor experiencing one of the most common reasons for people to seek counselling. Not that there has ever been a rule against counsellors living genuine lives, warts and all.

I am still uncomfortable with the idea of sharing too much here, so suffice it to say that everything is still hard, and I don't know why. But my latest session reminded me why I keep going, and why I can: because even when I know I don't have the resources within myself to complete the journey, I somehow get there anyway.

And that keeps me getting up every morning.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Baking failure, design triumph?

When the accuracy or credibility of a report is questionable, one useful question to ask is: Did the person who wrote it stand to benefit from reporting it in this way? The assumption is that you might very well lie to make yourself look good -- by inflating circulation figures, increasing the size of the one that got away, overreporting the amount that was contributed to charity -- but there is very little motivation to lie in order to make yourself look bad.

So you should rest assured that I speak the truth about this last baking attempt of mine, the first in my current kitchen. It definitely cannot be classified as a success, if what I had aimed to do from the start was produce a batch of golden-brown, fragrant, subtly alcoholic cupcakes.

However, if I'd set my heart and mind on developing stackable cupcakes (for the space-constrained, among whom I have cast my lot), I'd call it a definite winner. While I can usually fit a maximum of four fluffy, dome-shaped cupcakes into one of my containers, with this batch I managed seven.

There you have it, the truth on a plate. I could have just not blogged about it, let my worst kitchen failure to date fade into the gentle forgiving, forgetting arms of history. But something in me perversely wants to document the less sparkly bits of life alongside the good ones. Anyway, who knows? Maybe I can sell the concept to some Scandinavian mass producer of flat-pack, modular furniture. Seems to go with their general philosophy.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What do you see?

I wonder... do you think pancakes could be the new inkblot test?

That's a first, Sharon referencing Wikipedia. Don't get used to it.

By the way, I don't endorse Rorschach tests in any way. Like other instruments of psychological testing, they're best used by qualified professionals.

Pancakes, on the other hand, are safe for all ages. I think my next batch will be wholemeal, with honey and cinnamon. Who's in?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Feeling better

Today I had a grand total of one client, and supervision. It was a good day. Got home with nerves worn a little thin from evening traffic on the Anzac Bridge, and wanted a simple dinner (with only two types of protein on hand at the moment, it couldn't have been complicated if it tried). Still, I used it to answer a question I have long asked: how do you get the perfect boiled egg? My quest led me here. I picked the most practical-sounding chef's way and, whaddya know, it worked. Hopefully, this means I will never again have to stare at an ugly grey yolk ring of my own doing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Stress levels still too high. Please keep me in prayer before I do something silly and irreversible through lack of concentration.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Yucky-poo. Or, to be exact, yucky-pee.

The sofa in my new place smells as though someone mistook it for a different sort of, uh, resting facility.

Am very displeased. The realtor has been alerted.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In transit

As a child, I used to be fascinated with the idea of in-flight transit. Depending on which airport my family stopped over in en route to/from a family holiday, it could mean anything from an overnight stay in a closet-sized hotel room (the kind that you need to exit backwards, because there's no room to turn around), to six hours in the transit lounge (which is probably where some of us developed the ability to sleep anywhere, in any position), to 45 minutes spent mostly in a mad sprint for a departure gate that mysteriously turned out to be in another terminal building. Hence the mad sprint.

I haven't made an stopovers in recent years, which is why I am finding my present situation ironic. Not between countries or cities, but between apartments. The old unit has been vacated, cleared of nearly a year's worth of good living. Which, for these two girls from neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, involved many books (mostly mine), many soft toys (both), many DVDs (mostly hers) and many, many food items from far and wide (I'll say both). Owing to the slightly creative timing of my search for a new place to live, there was a three-day gap between leaving the old place and signing over the new one.

And so I am thankful for my cousin, who's kindly putting me up -- and my stuff, which includes the many books, many soft toys (mine and the ones left in my care, to save them from a fate worse than death: Western Australian flea markets!), and other bits and pieces. It's amazing how many boxes you can fill with a small bedroom's worth of stuff. Fortunately, there's room for us all.

With the signing of the six-month lease on the new place, I'm hoping that my life will cease its nomadic pattern of the past 19 months. At the moment I'm looking at change almost in the same way I view the chili lemongrass spare ribs we ended up having for dinner, after dropping the WA-bound former housemate off at the airport. Michelle's intended last good meal in Sydney evolved into... Michelle's imaginary last good meal in Sydney. But we enjoyed it nevertheless, and thought of her fondly while chomping on the juicy spare ribs encased in crumbly savoury lemongrass bits. How is change like pork? Before I tell you, I warn you first: I'm very sleep-deprived and this will almost certainly come out sounding trite or banal or stupid. Maybe even all three.

They're both great, and they both promote growth (spare ribs: protein and fat in a carbohydrate coating. Macronutrients, check!)... but at the moment I'm feeling as if I've had a little too much of both.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

At the moment

I am coughing and wheezing, not very slightly.
I am experiencing pain in my right shoulder, a 20-year-old bother that began with bad posture at the piano. Lesson: Posture is underrated.
I am decidedly not puzzled by a paradox I heard recently, and bewildered by my lack of puzzlement.
I am superlatively happy and thankful for my housemate and good friend's success with the final film project of her Master's in Film and Digital Image.
I am looking forward to finishing my own Master's, in one semester's time.
I am wondering what happens after that, and gratefully aware that there is not a smidgen of fear or trepidation in that wondering, only curiosity... and a healthy amount of adrenaline-fuelled impatience. Probably should work on reducing that last one; one can only function on so much adrenaline.
I am watching a lot of House and various light-hearted films. Thanks to all of that, for my next birthday I would like a panda that is proficient in martial arts and can serve up a mean la mian; failing which, I will gladly take Gene Kelly's tap-dancing talent or the ability to write like the House team. In a pinch, I will be happy with a chorus line of penguins that will also wait tables and sing happy songs.
I am reading the heart- and gut-wrenching childhood memoir of Dave Pelzer.
I am still basking in the warm glow of eating a long-missed childhood favourite dish.
I am renewing my resolve to be a better keyboardist. It might help if I actually practiced and did exercises, instead of tinkling around with Disney theme songs.
I am giving thanks for the many good people I have in proximity. Multiple-sandwich-supplying people; loving, caring, praying people; ginger-tea-brewing housemate types who try to help me get out of a cough before it takes hold.
I am missing the people I love who are miles away from me, a shared late-night roti pisang and Milo ais with plenty of joy-filled chatter on the side.
I am fighting the urge to be a spoilt brat who guzzles the good stuff without a second thought, while complaining loudly of the temporary small annoyances.
I am curious about why it is so difficult to find candied winter melon in Chatswood.
I am questioning the wisdom and rationale behind pet ownership during life's transitory stages.
I am contemplating giving myself an extension to Wednesday to try my grandmother's sweet potato cake recipe. It's those elusive candied winter melons that are standing in my way, bless their hearts. Gah.
I am very slowly writing an article about an amazing woman who brings new meaning to the word "living".
I am blogging when I should really be in bed.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sweet and something else

I like the way great discoveries are often made in small, accidental ways. Like how you can set out to bake cupcakes, partly because there are a couple of birthdays falling around the same time and partly because it feels good to work the ol' arm muscles beating cake batter.

And then, a few days later, the housemate might also set out to bake cupcakes for reasons really known only to her.

And there follow a few days of no baking, and then one day you both think, well now -- what would happen if we whipped up a mixture each, and put a little of the sweet-salty peanut butter mixture and a little of the hedonistically rich chocolate mixture into each cup?

And the result, well, is best tasted but since licking the screen will do you no good, I'll just say it's the perfect balance of sweet and crumbly and surprisingly crunchy, when the peanut butter comes through.

And they are an exercise in precise planning because you keep on trying to take a bite that is exactly half chocolate and half peanut butter, so that you can roll them around on your tongue and let the contrast turn to cohesion.

In a life that has given me quite a few peanuts when I'd asked for chocolate chips (and the Freudians among you may make of that phrase whatever you wish), it's good to pull up a chair and enjoy the spoils of a small kitchen victory.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Hooray for meeting deadlines.

With much joy I greet the prospect of writing whenever I want to, because I want to; not because the result counts for 30% or 40% or 50% of my total mark for the course.

I look forward to lazy days with good books and good food.

I smile at the thought of being able to dance again.

But first, there are other important things to do...

(Image by Diego Jaimovich)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A TV-related grumble

If you have been watching Australian TV lately, it's likely you've also had the misfortune of seeing the latest quit-smoking ad. Now that I know what the soundtrack is, I can avert my eyes or switch channels for a minute, but the first couple of times I ended up catching more than an eyeful of clogged artery, fibrin-plugged brain, and carbonated lung.

The thing that annoys is how personalised the script is. "And you still smoke." "Maybe you do need help quitting." Hello? Mr/Ms Scriptwriter/Art Director/Barista From Coffee Joint Downstairs Of Ad Agency (who knows who's truly the source of most ads, anyway)? In case you hadn't realised, not the entire population of Australia smokes. This might surprise you, but yes, it is true! So actually, you tell a lie. No, I do not "still" smoke, because I in fact can never have been said to smoke, not even when they set me on fire. (That was a bad joke, much like your ad. Only it's not funny. Oh, wait. Neither is your ad.) Therefore, there is nothing for me to quit, nothing I need help quitting from. Fine, maybe chocolate, but that has nothing to do with clogged art-

OK, let's not lose focus here. All I'm saying is, this latest in a long series of ads for a very good cause seems to me equivalent to spraying an entire arenaful of rock fans with foam just because one of them held up a lighter during the last ballad. Why, why am I and the rest of the non-smoking, not-needing-to-quit population of TV watchers being subjected to this revolting sight?

Oh, I get it, because it's worth grossing out an entire nation (at least, the parts of it that watch TV) if some lives are saved by these ads. But I have the most distastefully cynical suspicion that the only people giving an "oh, yuck!" reaction to these ads are the non-smokers. The smokers? Probably too much nicotine on the brain to care. Or they might have sold their TVs to pay for more cigarettes. Or maybe, as anyone who does not want completely unedifying images of severely damaged vital organs running through their brains might do, they avert their eyes or switch channels for a minute when the ad comes on.

It's things like these that make me thankful for the simple things. Things like blue sky, rainbows, and DVD box sets. Yay for technology that enables you to escape hideous advertisements.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hello, lil' doggy

This cute little one appeared at our feet when I was having a seafood picnic (standing up, but still very enjoyable) with Sai and Carol on their holiday. The full force of pleading puppy-dog eyes was unleashed on us, but we stood strong.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Love your work?

"My life's work was exactly what I was best suited to do. I loved what I did. It fascinated me." (Hudson Southwell)

How many of us will get to 70 and be able to say this truthfully?

When I have the time to get on my don't-waste-your-life-in-a-job-you-hate soapbox, I'll write more about career satisfaction. Right now, I think I should focus on heading home from the counselling centre while I can do it on foot, not by swimming.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What moves me

Two videos found over the past two days, a very sedentary weekend of not even being able to shimmy along to the Bollywood-meets-Austen extravaganza Bride and Prejudice, in order to give bruised head a rest.

Saturday: Interlude Dance Troupe's lyrical dance to Superchick's 'Beauty From Pain' at 2007's Kidz Take Kontrol. It's things like this that remind me: when words fail us, we still have dance.

Sunday: The arrangement sounds good and I liked the originals of both songs, but what gets me every time I watch this clip is the joy each of them finds in their music; once again, something beyond words. I miss that feeling. Thank you Miss C, teacher who succeeded in grooming me from unwilling ABRSM exam candidate into lifelong piano lover, for sending me this link.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Concussed. Again.

Things were looking hazy, too hazy for my liking, and I decided to get a professional opinion on the consequences of two recent head traumas. I'd thought they were minor, just lie-back-for-five-minutes-and-you'll-be-fine things.

The verdict: "Concussion, whiplash. Again. We're giving you a helmet for Christmas."

My doctor speaks tongue in cheek, but behind the quip I know is genuine concern for me and a hope that I will stop unintentionally hurting myself. I don't even know why these things keep happening; it isn't as if I'm deliberately careless, one of those self-loathing types who inflict a non-stop stream of "accidents" upon themselves. I don't understand the question "Why do you keep doing these things?", which is what some people ask me when they hear of the latest episode. I resist the urge to pull out another of my sarcastic comebacks like, "Because it feels so good to stop," because I am just as sick of them as I am of the injuries. I will only ever have this one brain and I would like it, from now on, to have a safe and trouble-free existence in which to co-ordinate life as I know it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Friday, May 01, 2009

Tired housemates, prime-time TV. Do not mix.

A, reacting to a Medium trailer on TV: Hey, she's gained so much weight.

B: You think?

A: Yeah, definitely.

B: Maybe she's trying to become a Large.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


I don't


all my time

taking pictures

of food;

that would mean

I have no time

to eat it.

And what would be the point of that?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Grave thanks

Nobody knows the liberation of being released from a graveyard like someone who, well, has been released from a graveyard. And this Easter, it seems a good time to give thanks again for freedom from both the graveyard... and the grave.

As told very briefly here just after it happened, I found myself locked in a cemetery quite recently, with nightfall quickly approaching and the awareness that this wasn't the best place to spend the night even more quickly increasing. Only about 10 minutes or less passed when we really thought we might have to stay there until sunrise, but they were 10 very long minutes. What a relief to know that cemetery caretakers, in Australia at least, are prone to enjoying an evening glass of wine in their backyards overlooking the rolling green hills dotted with vaults and carved headstones, and the odd Asian photographer or two. The latter, not being the standard after-closing-time scenery, were quickly escorted out.

I haven't been very observant this Easter. I didn't fast for Lent, I barely remembered that Good Friday was Good Friday, I toyed with skipping church on Sunday due to lack of sleep. But one thing I have this Easter that I didn't before is a new appreciation for what it means to be freed from the confines of the grave. Believe me, you don't have to have been in the grave to know that life, not death, is where it's at. Which is why I am all the more certain now that when it comes to closing time, I want to be on the side of the living, and I want everyone I love to be there too.

Friday, April 03, 2009

First came the sniffles, the ceaseless dripping of the nose. That was taken care of by the Brother's potent anti-sniffle medication. Then today I wake up with more of the sniffles, and a sore throat.

Still, I'm happy, because being home and sick is still way more fun than being homesick. The sooner I get rid of the sick, the better.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

When the clock strikes 12

She had no slipper to leave behind, but the headphones were a dead giveaway.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

"I thought Asians didn't like cemeteries!"

Was what the caretaker said as he ushered two very embarrassed, very relieved Chinese girls and their cameras out through his private entrance, a full hour after the gates had been locked.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

You know classes have resumed when...

ProQuest comes back into your 10 most recently visited sites.

What to cook is evaluated in terms of whether it counts as a "thing you can pack for lunch that won't have to be heated up so that you can escape using the Nukes of Terror in the student centre".

You actually start going to bed at 10pm, instead of only talking about it.

You read less in order to have more time to read.

Boo-hoo, bring back the hols.

On the bright side... each week is another week closer to graduation ;o)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More adventures in public healthcare

Two nights ago, I was trying to fall into a more respectable nighttime sleep pattern as befits a second-year postgraduate student.

Then I heard what I thought was an assault victim gasp-screaming in surprise as he got taken out from the rear with a heavy blunt instrument, like maybe a psychological manual. Must be The Housemate winding down with some soothing late-night TV, I thought.

Then my "better safe than sorry" voice kicked in, and I went to investigate and decided that "heavy blunt instrument" should have been substituted with "food poisoning" and the only victim in question is the person who occupies the next room.

And the next few hours turned into a blur of racking my brains for a temporary home remedy for persistent vomiting; searching online for 24-hour clinics; driving around the Inner West searching for the non-existent 24-hour clinics...

... and making the mistake of thinking that A&E at the huge teaching hospital around the corner from home would be an appropriate place to go, for by that time it was beginning to look like a bona fide emergency.

It was a mistake, because:
  1. We had left the house in a hurry and didn't think to bring the patient's passport, birth certificate, insurance card (which BTW doesn't exist) and mother along as proof of ID, and the belligerent triage nurse refused to even hear what was wrong until she had been registered, and in order to register her, she had to know WHO SHE WAS!
  2. Clearly, we showed up at the wrong place looking for the wrong thing. Y'see, what we wanted was swift medical attention. We weren't expecting to jump ahead of DIY accidents and premature labour, just maybe a doctor's consultation before sunrise. Simple enough, right? Want to see doctor, go where the doctors are. Problem, solution. Done. But the solution being provided here wasn't "medical attention", the peg that fits in the hole, "repeated and violent vomiting over 90 minutes". What was on offer at this hospital was instead the answer to the question, "Where can one go to be verbally abused, repeatedly, while one's stomach continues to be attacked by very hostile microbes?"
Fortunately, we eventually got out of that bizarre parallel universe where it's acceptable to yell at a sick stranger who comes to your organisation seeking medical assistance. After one more false start (can somebody please tell me why a place called "24 Hour Medical and Dental Practice" is not open 24 hours?) we finally found a hospital staffed by human beings: lucid, warm, competent human beings who didn't penalise us for the fact that their jobs involved staying up through the night.

And they wonder why some people would literally rather die than go to public hospital. I can understand if triage nurses in busy hospitals need to be abrupt and skip the "soft skills" when there are people waiting to be assessed. But there was no queue at this hospital, and in my book there is no justification for the rudeness.

Y'know, if I want to be snapped at, I know where to go. Like maybe I'd offer to tape the tail end of a TV movie for my grandma, and then program the VCR wrongly and tape the pilot of Dogs At Work instead. (I really did do this once, she really did snap, but the rest of the time Mama Saw is to me a cuddly bundle of good grandmotherly lovin', and a killer cook to boot.) Or, I could go back in time to Latin dancing class and exit a hockey stick with sloppy turnout and no headwork. There would be the snapping, but it would be worth it because everyone knows that WL is a great instructor who refuses to let dancers perform below their potential. I might even pick the fond "Don't take three meatballs! After you can't fit into your New Year baju, you don't come and scold me!" reprimand from my friend the chap fun uncle in Taman Mayang. The point is, if I want to be yelled at, the last place I would think of to get it is an emergency room at 1am.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Breaking bread

Meet my new friend who rode over from Singapore in Michelle's luggage and didn't raise any suspicion in the Australian customs bloodhounds. It has been three days since its arrival and it's still soft and yeasty-smelling, more than I can say of buns that have turned to stone overnight.

However, some things have changed. It no longer resides on a stylish square plate, having taken up a spot next to my computer on the desk. And something of its freshly-baked appearance has changed. Because Ren is a tenacious little cookie, and right after presenting me with my ocean-crossing "snack" from near home, Michelle had told me to break it open to see what flavour it was. And I obliged. To her great surprise, I did indeed break it open, instead of stopping after several grunting attempts and staring in surprise at Wonder Bun, here.

Apparently, this distinguishes me as the first of her victims to manage to break one of these uncannily realistic phony baked goods.

Hear my surprise when she tells me, "It's not real, LAH!" in a hurry, once I've done the deed.

Ah well. It's quite a good mouse wrist support, even with a surreal crack in its forehead. And it's still smiling, the trouper.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I thought I was too late. All the way to Tamarama, I kicked myself for sleeping in that extra 45 minutes. I watched the sky brighten all too quickly as I drove. I regretted the pictures I wouldn't get to take of first light emerging in the east.

Yet, despite my getting there long after light had hit the sands, I got this:

Strangely, that came about half an hour after this:

And these:

No profound conclusions this time, just awed adoration of the artist behind it all.

Monday, January 26, 2009

And a happy Moo year!

Whether you're temporarily back in the loving circle of family in the homeland,

or recovering from a surfeit of home-made macadamia pralines brought on by an overzealous sister-in-law's festive food gift,

or shivering over a homemade steamboat for one in the wintry Northern Hemisphere...

I hope you'll have a hoof-stompin' start to another great year.

Me? I am not any more homesick than usual (which is to say, not any less homesick, either). I've seen more Chinese New Year decorations in the city, non-Chinese-populated parts included, than you might expect. The only difference is that every shopping mall I step into, driven by the heat into the embrace of free air-conditioning, is not pulsing with the sounds of the classic Chinese New Year soundtrack led by 'Cai Shen Dao' followed by 'Gong Xi Ni, Gong Xi', in an assortment of dialects and accompanied with any number of cymbals and gongs. That pushes the list of New Year thanksgivings up a notch.

This New Year season is definitely different from the childhood ones spent in Penang, days that whizzed by yielding an average of at least 3.4 lions, a dozen butter cookies, a couple dozen chocolate chip, and countless Melting Moments and pineapple tarts each. Not to mention Grandma's very traditional Hokkien cherry cheese squares, my aunt's matchless sugee cake, and that jelly thing that is apparently nothing more than coagulated egg white and sugar. The staccato blasts of firecrackers that sent plump housecats racing for the nearest dark corner, tails afluff and claws on alert. The noisy family steamboats, the New Year's Day breakfast of vegetarian noodles with real veggies and mock everything else, the drives around the island in search of relatives, more cookies, more laughter, shade, an icy-sugary-red-bean-sweet-corn-grass-jelly-attap-seed-bedecked something to bring core temperatures down before the whole family melted into a puddle of festively dressed sludge.

But it's not all different, oh no. I haven't walked into a negative of my life back home. Because the heat, folks, the heat is just the same. I am still wondering where I can get a good-quality icy-sugary-red-bean-and-everything-else something to bring the core temperature down before I melt down into a puddle of sludge, festively dressed or otherwise. Forty-degree weather should be outlawed.

Happy New Year again, and just in case you were wondering, this isn't the lion dance from last night. That was a little chaotic and shot too close up, but in keeping with the season, I thought this clip from the Shanghai junket I took two years ago would do.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The greatest...

This post began life, with a sterile mouse click, as a sarcastic crack at an e-mail I received today. Said e-mail exhorts its male recipients to forward its minimally proven, scantily detailed health "warning" contents to their "wives, daughters, girlfriends". I took issue with the assumption that every guy reading the e-mail had all three of these. And it occurred to me to ask, don't the men in these guys' address books deserve to know, too, of the toxicity of dried mushroom water? And also, what do women who receive the e-mail do, since they are not given similar instructions to inform their nearest and dearest (presumably, only of the opposite sex) of what the press, the medical community, the aunties who gossip in loud whispers at every corner of Sea Park Market have failed to tell us.

> For those of you who cannot read Chinese, this message is to
> warn you against using the
> water you soak your mushrooms in. Most of the mushrooms on
> the market are from
> and are contaminated with chemicals (I think it is carbon
> bisulfide, correct me if I am wrong)
> which are soluble in water. You must discard the water in
> which you soak to soften the
> dried mushrooms.
> Guys, please forward this to your wives, daughters,
> girlfriends.

And, of course, I was riled by the implied sexism of the e-mail, because of course what it really boils down to is: men don't soak dried mushrooms; women do. So guys, your involvement in this only goes as far as forwarding the e-mail, because if anyone is going to end up stiff as a board on the kitchen floor with a puddle of toxic fungus water nearby, it's going to be one of the three women this e-mail assumes are in your life.

So, while we're occupied with boiling things down to their basic content, what's really bugging me about this e-mail is:
  1. the assumption that men don't cook/prepare food, or that only women do.
  2. the lack of detail. What about this chemical is so harmful?
  3. the lack of scientific substantiation. Has anyone been lab-testing mushrooms and finding this particular chemical, in amounts worthy of being mentioned?
  4. that it fails to answer this absolutely unimportant, but nonetheless nagging question. Have people not been discarding their mushroom-infused water?
Anyway... all this should prove that I do have my moments of ridiculous pettiness over the most trivial of matters. As if you needed proof. But my irritation was broken by the presence online of a good friend and hymn-harmonising buddy back home, who sent me a song and told me she misses me. That was all it took for the bubble of irritation to burst, and for me to be reminded of what really matters. More of this boiling down business. When the excess matter of my life has bubbled off into vapour, when the scum of my unresolved character flaws has been scooped aside, what remains?

A writer I know of also seemed to be in the habit of boiling things down to bare bones.

"And now these three remain," the apostle Paul wrote centuries ago. "Faith, hope and love."

"But the greatest of these," he concludes...

The greatest...

That which I hope will be all that remains when my life is distilled...

"The greatest of these is love."

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year whats?

I returned their phone calls shortly after the second (watching Alvin and the Chipmunks, didn't hear phone ringing) and hours after the first (cleaning house that I had been sitting). New Year's wishes were exchanged. Movie reviews were, briefly, shared. Food, check, fireworks, check, and what else did you do for New Year's Eve?

And then, "So, what are your New Year resolutions?", where the exchange ended, because I had nothing to contribute, being completely baffled by the mentality behind waiting for a specific time that comes around at the paltry rate of once a year before you want to change something about the way you're living. I'm rather more into February 3rd resolutions. And June 18th resolutions, etc. Like, as and when something negative about my lifestyle bites me, I would like to be able to get out the proverbial bug spray on the spot rather than put it on hold until the end of the year.

But if you're the once-a-year-resolutions type, have fun and all the best.

Another one of those analogy things

So, sometimes it's hot and everything around you is unattractive and unspectacular...

... but maybe that's because you need to shift your sights by a few degrees.

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