439: phuketeering

Life has… not been great. I’m tired out, but I can’t get to sleep till the sun rises. My head is in a mess all the time. Waking up early is so hard, but I don’t sleep in the day either. I don’t understand how I function, if at all. It may have something to do with the endless work that just keeps coming. How am I going to survive working life like this, when I balk at the prospect of four assignments in one week?

In between then and now, my friends from Austria came to visit. Then they left, and as they left my laptop decided to crash (again). As a testament to the impermanency of life, etc, because now I have nothing and one year later all the iPod ripping software is not freeware anymore. They offer you a 100-file trial. It may not be much, but over one year I had about a thousand songs. And in the ten years before that (before my laptop crashed and I left my iPod on the plane back from Holland), I had about ten thousand. A thousand a year seems correct. But it was ten years’ worth of music. Yes, I’m still sore. Because now I don’t even know what I don’t remember.

Also, I went to Phuket. It was one of the nicer weekends this month, seeing as the others have either been clogged up with work or spent hungover (or spent hungover but still clogged up with work). It was also a harried getaway (in between assignments), but like I told someone, you live now, or you live never.

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438: forgetting orchard road

I remember —

  • When the normal McSpicy meal was a McSpicy double. Now they market it like some newfangled awesome burger like we are getting a damn good deal — they think we don’t remember. We do remember, but we get conned into buying it anyway.
  • When they used to have ice-cream in Twist.
  • When McDonald’s meals were $4.50 normally and not part of some lunch time promotion.
  • When the first thing you saw when you walked into the Wisma underpass was McDonald’s on the right, and St. Cinnamon on the left.
  • I don’t even remember whether the aquarium still exists. But I don’t think it does.
  • When there used to be a huge hill for maids to picnic on Sundays, right where Ion Orchard now sits.
  • When you could actually cross the damn road.
  • When the best beef noodles in Orchard Road was at the food court at the basement of Scotts Shopping Centre.
  • When I bought my prom dress from Scotts Shopping Centre. I recently wore it the other day, and I was sad to have to tell people that not only does the shop no longer exist, the entire freaking building is gone.
  • When Fish & Co used to be at Wheelock Place.
  • When Wheelock Place was called Lane Crawford!
  • When there used to be a Haagen Dazs at Tangs, along the main road.
  • When Takashimaya was first built, and they were having a competition to name their mascots, and I wanted to call them Taka and Taki. I think they are called Joy and Roy.
  • When you had to walk by the old cobbler sitting along the walkway leading to Somerset MRT station in order to get there.
  • When there was still a car park where the monstrosity called 313@Somerset (what sort of shitty name is that?) now is.
  • The McDonald’s at Centrepoint used to be open air!
  • When Centrepoint used to have the most awesome Christmas decorations along the entire road. Then some smart aleck decided to ‘revamp’ the facade and now everything is just glass. Like every other building along Orchard Road.
  • When Marche and NYDC were the coolest places on earth to eat.
  • When Quickly bubble tea had a branch at Lucky Plaza and the queues were longer than KOI’s.
  • The Swensen’s. IT IS GONE.
  • What used to be the Hello! building. I don’t even know what is there anymore, or whether it is even there at all. I liked it when there was a Starbucks there. I would know if there was still a Starbucks there, but there isn’t. There also used to be a Popular there, where I first met a bunch of Chinese High boys peeking in between bookshelves and assessment books. Then it became a Party World KTV, which I also used to go to. Now … I have no idea.
  • Oh my goodness. The Popular at Orchard MRT station. The place to go for emergency stationery supplies for millions of RGS girls.
  • Does anyone else remember that there used to be a Jack’s Place hidden at the side of the Citibank building (which is next to Heeren?)
  • When Emerald Point still existed (you know the one directly opposite 313? Where there is now a huge gaping hole? Which used to be (1) Crystal Jade, (2) Bee Cheng Hiang, (3) some irrelevant jewellery shop?)
  • When the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station was just a blue print in my Social Studies textbook. I’m pretty sure I still have that textbook. It had a diagram which showed eight levels of stuff. There it is now, in full tangible glory. Not a blue print.
  • The old Cathay.

You know, I also know for a fact that they changed the main road facade of the entrance to Emerald Hill. I know because I clearly remember lamenting how it had changed and I would no longer remember how it used to look like. And now I no longer remember how it used to look like. Except that it has somehow changed.

Like so many other things in life, we only remember the changing, and not the change itself.

437: it’s a dangerous road (and a hazardous load)

Graduating is such a strange thing. I feel older, and yet not. I am completely unready. This transitional period is unsettling and discomforting, but it achieves what I like the most about life: it postpones the inevitable unhappiness. I don’t know for sure that I will not be happy; yet it almost seems a certainty. This is probably because I am lazy and hate to work, no matter how much I like whatever I’m doing. I cannot imagine how it would feel like to step into an office every single day, facing pages and pages of documents, the only comfort being the pantry with its endless supply of Milo. I am scared.

I am scared that my job will define me. For me it has defined so many others. When I see a doctor I find it hard to comprehend that he once acted in a musical, played rugby, travelled the world. I find it hard to reconcile my secondary school teachers with their private lives, their children, the fact that they do so much more. That they are normal people with likes and dislikes, and hobbies, with bouts of happiness and sadness, and days when they absolutely hate their job. Will it all be lost? When I finally become a lawyer, will everyone else forget that I love to write, to travel, and dream with my head in the air? That I have emotional responses to movies, that my feelings oscillate when I listen to music? I am scared. I am scared that all they will see is a young girl in corporate attire who doesn’t know what to do. I am scared that when I am 35, all they will see are mergers and acquisitions, securities regulations documents. We are so many things. How can one job define us all? Yet it can. The stereotypes are plentiful and exist, surely, for a reason: every year more and more people join the ranks of the soulless, all those who hibernate in tall buildings and wake up only when the bright lights go out. We know this is not true; that we have minds, and loves, and are prone to extreme emotions, we dream as any other. But every year the uninitiated continue to dread the inevitable. This sense of doom is surely an illusion. Will we not keep ourselves intact? But we struggle continually between believing what our eyes and ears tell us, and believing in ourselves. Which one is true? Who knows?

The answer is simple, and perhaps almost too simple. Time will tell. Time, the answer to everything, especially when it comes to things happening. When will you be getting married? Time will tell. When will you be happy again? Time heals all wounds. What is going to happen next week? Just wait and when you will know. Such an obvious answer is also obviously the most useless. By the time time can tell, it is too late. Why would I want to live half my life not knowing where my soul has gone, only to find out that all the stereotypes were true? I am scared.

436: may all your wishes come true

DisneySea and Universal Studios. Probably the second and third happiest places on earth. But I’m a ride junkie, even though I love Winnie the Pooh to bits. So the theme park that gets my vote is Universal Studios, just because it has a rollercoaster that I got to go on five times. It was the first time in the history of me visiting theme parks that I didn’t have to queue more than 45 minutes for the most popular ride. My longest wait (for Thunder Mountain Railroad or whatever it’s called)? 3 hours!!!!

Joy at the height of summer. Much love.

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435: all this hate and love

Maybe it’s true what they say about big cities; maybe it’s not. What is more certain is that life goes on the way it has for years, regardless of the tourists that come and go, snapping pictures for their travel albums back home. Funny how scenes of every day life translate into souvenirs, as if you would make a lovely picture just standing outside and taking in the laundry. But you do make a lovely picture. I don’t know what to say about Japan. Most of these were day trips, achieved by taking a train out from the cities, filled with skyscrapers and illegible Japanese neon signs. Here the lights go off by ten, and the streets are empty after dinner. We wandered slowly and tentatively, afraid to break the hush. Once in awhile we pass by a convenience store (truly convenient), refuel, go on our way again. A bicycle stops, and a high school jock gets off. He wears his track suit, his dyed hair is painfully brown, illuminated against the harsh flourescent lights. They step in to flip over magazines along the aisle, filled with covers of pretty girls with big boobs.

These cities are old and quiet and the residents cycle through everyday life with steady momentum. People are less brash, more polite. The air is fresh and cold. The mountains continue to exist, as they always have, without our presence or help.

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434: where i would like to be

I know I say this altogether too often, but what is up with the weather?

For once, can it PLEASE RAIN? I don’t understand why people hate the rain in Singapore. Sure it dampens moods, and you have to cancel half your plans, but there’s just something about hiding indoors when outdoors (I mean, hiding inside somewhere when you’re out, i.e. not your house). The smell of rain is wonderful, as is the post-rain quietness that settles over the city. The sky is blueish-grey, and feet patter across wet walkways. We squeal when we step into puddles, though whether from delight or horror. More importantly, it is not hot. The night wind feels marvellous. Everyone is in a better mood.

I don’t know how it became so hot. Maybe it’s global warming, because summers are getting hotter everywhere (time for the damn Europeans to finally invest in some airconditioning) and the winters are getting colder and gloomier and longer. I didn’t remember it being this scorching when I was a kid. My childhood car used to have one of those temperature sensors —  now ubiquitous in every car, but it was the height of automobile technology then (along with a colour TV, in-built voice recognition software, and a million other sensors; cool hor. This was 1993.) I remember when I thought 32 degrees was OMG HOT. Now it’s the average daily temperature. Life sucks, we’re all going to die.

Nothing like soba on a hot day!