60

18/05. It is my mum’s birthday. She would have turned 60 today, except that she won’t because she died in 2004.

1805 is also the password to my phone. Because I try to include any semblance of her in my life. Because what better set of numbers could there be?

I won’t lie – when I was thinking earlier this month about mum’s birthday, I had to use a calculator to count her age. When you haven’t celebrated your mum’s birthday for 11 years, you don’t have a need to remember her age. The brain automatically forgets. Every year I have to calculate because I can never remember.

This is the second milestone birthday she’s missed. We‘ve missed. I often wonder what she would have been like at this age. If her cancer wasn’t terminal. If she never got cancer at all. I would have a mother. How different would my life be.

Every time you have to go, shut my eyes and you know

*waves* Hi. I’m alive.

Work is going well. Found my groove and I’m pretty happy. My colleagues are quite vapid and not funny but what can you do. As long as they are nice-ish and the boss is not a dick, I shouldn’t complain, amirite.

So I found myself in London in mid-March for my induction programme. They fly in newbies from all the overseas offices every three months for this. The induction programme is an intense 2-day programme where every department head presents on the work they do for the company. I only listened when the department(s) I either belonged to or had interacted with or will interact with, spoke. Otherwise I just daydreamed about what I was going to do in the evening! Nevertheless it was cool meeting IRL people I had only communicated with online.

I made the mistake of making friends with this chick from the New York office who ended up ignoring me throughout our planned “London at night” outing when she invited someone from the London office to show us around. It would have been fine as he is a local and all, except she was flirting with him all night, calling him handsome and praising every goddamn thing he said. Curiously, she only mentioned her boyfriend when this guy was out of earshot. It was sickening. When I was entering the tube to return to our hotel, I turned around and she was nowhere behind me. She was probably photographing something or other in the station but didn’t have the courtesy to tell me. (London guy had gone into the opposite tube at this point so I knew she wasn’t with him.) So wtf did I do? I entered the tube and the tube left without her. Ain’t nobody got time for disrespectful bitches. I never saw her again as we all flew out the next day, so whatever.

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Joy was discovering a Bread Ahead outlet 15 minutes from my hotel so I could get my doughnut fix without having to go to Borough Market. (CBA because too far.) I honestly started having dreams about those doughnuts the moment I found out I was going to London. So I was practically shaking with glee. One time I bought some close to lunchtime and was able to expense them because the company pays for lunch.

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I also got to catch up with my London-based Galway (Ireland) Airbnb flatmate, whom I got along like mad with when we met last September. We sat outside of Spitalfields Market for seven hours just gabbing and I laughed till I cried. She’s hilarious without even trying. I love her.

spitalfields

My adventures on this trip included getting asked out by a waiter from Honest Burgers and by a shopowner on Portobello Road. I never felt more attractive. But neither one took place as I wound up getting stood up by the waiter and I stood up the shopowner. Haaa.

After London I trained it to Germany. The Brussels attacks occurred a few days before that so it was chaotic at St Pancras and then understandably at Brussels Central Station. I took this really shitty photo of military trucks that were outside of the station. It was all I could manage as security was yelling at people, “NO PHOTOGRAPHY!” So I nervous-snapped.

brussels

Germany was…hmmmm. Maybe it was just that part of Germany though. Yeah, Stuttgart was a bit blah. But I got to hang out with SV – always a good thing – and I was brutally reminded that German food is mostly porky so I can’t move there ever. Spätzle is great though. Naturally I had the bland German version when I was there but I brought some home and I make it so delicious with butter and ground beef and caramelised onions and balsamic vinegar. Come on, Germans.

We went to some castle outside of Stuttgart and it rained the entire time. It got so cold I swear my face became frozen. Along the way SV turned me to the greatest invention ever – car seat heaters. Ahhh. Having warm butt checks when it’s freezing out is divine.

castle

me

There’s not much to do in Stuttgart so for shits and giggles SV took me to a pig museum. Seriously, it’s called Schweine-Museum and it’s a museum of pig artefacts. No real pigs – that’s why it was safe for me to go.

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The sun finally came out on my last day. Typical.

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sunny

Verdict on Germany: Germans are (surprisingly) very friendly and the Autobahn is mental. 10/10 will go again.

Work is sending me to London again next month. This time because we’re celebrating its 10th anniversary. Yes, they’re flying all its overseas employees to London for a party. I know, right? Don’t you want to work for my company now? Heh.

It will be Ramadan though, and I’m sad that I will lose a couple of days of fasting whilst on the flights to and fro. One is officially exempt from fasting while travelling, especially for a legit reason like being on the plane due to work, but I might not be able to fast even while on the ground. It might be too hard because coming from Singapore where the times for dawn and dusk stay the same throughout the year, the 4am dawn and 9pm dusk (because it’s summer) might be a bit too taxing for someone who has never done it before. Doesn’t mean I won’t try though.

You might be wondering why I’m sad about not fasting. Isn’t fasting difficult? If I were you, I’d be looking for every possible excuse not to fast, someone said to me. Let me explain: fasting in Ramadan is one of the pillars of Islam, so if you’re a Muslim and you don’t fast for no good reason, you’re not a Muslim. Secondly, being able to fast is a privilege. One of the legit reasons for being excused from fasting is being ill. (Being diabetic falls in that category). If you are able to fast, it means you are healthy! Now isn’t that a blessing? So why would you not fast if you can?

Anyway, but of course I have to make it extra hard for myself because I am – once again – using the opportunity to do a bit of travelling. This wanderlust; it’s incurable. I am flying out a few days before the London ceremony to re-do a city I did four years ago on my first real solo trip. I don’t think I did it justice, plus I miss my friend-bro, AX.

Yaaas. Here’s one of the ways I didn’t do it justice: I didn’t visit Parc Güell. I mean, who goes to Barcelona and doesn’t visit Parc Güell? I have no good explanation, just that I was an idiot. AX now works at Parc Güell too, so I get free entrance to the paid area. Woo!

But yeah, will I be able to fast while I’m gallivanting around town in the hot summer sun? Stay tuned to find out.

So that’s June. Next Saturday I am going to Hanoi for a week. Leisure trip, not business. I was supposed to go last August but cancelled it because I decided to spend three months in Ireland instead. Halong Bay and halal pho, here I come!

In the meantime…I mopped the floor earlier this evening as I do every Sunday, then immediately forgot I’d just mopped the floor, so I walked quickly – not gingerly as one should on a slippery floor – and because no good deeds go unpunished (especially mine), I slipped and fell…on my hands. And now my arms are achy, as are my back and neck. Lovely way to cap the weekend, don’t you think?

They say I’m doing just fine

Unfortunately I have to take back the not-sad, not-mad thing because I have both of them in spades today. Ffs.

Flakes should be hanged, man. I’m sick of em. If you can’t make it, fucking tell me in advance, not wait for me to ask you. Also? Rude service providers. I hate to say it because I’m a Singaporean, but maybe I’m qualified to say this precisely because I’m a Singaporean – local service providers are usually shite. Shite service with shite attitudes. No, you don’t get to roll your eyes at me in front of me, or say “As I said before…” in a shitty tone when having to repeat your answer, or start your email response with “Err you sent me the request late yesterday so a delivery today is impossible.” Err? ERR? Are you fucking kidding me? Also what’s with suddenly being nicer and suddenly being able to provide a quick service when it’s my white boss asking you? Are you being racist to your own countryman? Why are you so basic?

/end rant

Guess whose boss wants her to go visit the London office sooner rather than later? Guess whose boss told her “You might as well fly out the Friday before (the visit) so you can spend the weekend in London”? Guess whose boss approved for her to fly back to Singapore a few days later so she can go on her maiden trip to Germany where she is going to crash her friend’s family’s Easter celebration? Guess who gets to stuff her face with those fabulous Borough Market doughnuts and authentic German pretzels in two weeks’ time?!

YES, IT’S ME!!! And there I thought I would not be able to satisfy my yearly quota of visiting Europe this year due to my lack of funds!

It’s the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny

On my birthday just under two months ago I applied for a job with the local branch of a London-based marketing tech company. I’d heard of them before and had been eyeing their careers page for a long, long time. They seemed really cool and I like what they’re doing. They’re also immensely successful. I was very excited.

Two weeks later they contacted me, and after three rounds of interviews, the last of which was with the co-founder via Google Hangout – which entirely consisted of me asking him questions rather than the other way around (my research had warned me of this, so I was prepared) – they extended an offer to me last Friday. I wasn’t surprised. After all, the co-founder had ended the interview with, “I don’t have any questions for you. Based on the questions you’ve asked me, you are the right fit for the company.”

So, you know, I was happy, but I was chill.

Then I began to read the words on the offer letter…and nearly fell out of my chair.

It’s not the salary. I knew the salary beforehand. We established their max budget right from the start. It’s good. I don’t hate it. (Read: I love it. Like, a lot.) It’s the benefits package that made me gasp. Two things in particular:

1. 25 days annual leave, you guys. TWENTY-FIVE. I know that is standard for Europe but 14 is typical here. I got 18 at my last job and thought I had struck gold. So to be given 25 without even negotiating…this is the real gold. MORE HOLIDAYS, HERE I COME.

2. After my three months probation they are flying me to visit the HQ. In London. IN LONDONNN. This was not mentioned in the job ad or during the interview process, so I’m truly flabbergasted.

I fell in love with London last year when I went, specifically with the food scene. (What else is new? Hehehe.) So to know that I will be going again at some point this year at the expense of the company? Whoaaa. No idea how many days the trip will be, but already I’m wondering if I can extend it to visit a nearby country. Heh. I have chronic wanderlust; I’m incorrigible. My German friend SV visited me when I was in London and we’ve been talking about me visiting his motherland for a while, so maybe this is my chance…

I start on 22 Feb, so just a week left of my, uh, “vacation”. I won’t lie – I’m relieved I can finally say “I got a job” but at the same time I’m mourning the end of my freedom. You’d think three months of nothingness (since coming back from Ireland) was enough nothingness that I’d be raring to go back to work. Well, you grossly underestimate my aptitude for finding sheer joy in doing nothing. Oh, doing nothing. You shall be missed.

I hope this is it for me for a while. At least three years. More. Five. So tired of finding a good job only for it to turn bad. So tired of doing the employed/unemployed thing. It’s getting old. I’m getting old. It’s time for a bit of stability.

I’m not absolving myself from those good jobs turning bad. In both of my last two jobs, it would have served me better had I been less emotional and passive-aggressive and instead put in a real effort to compose myself and initiated those difficult conversations right from the beginning. Instead there were pent-up emotions that eventually became outbursts. I cringe now thinking about those times I acted unprofessionally. I would do things much more differently now.

It was hard to help myself much at my last job though, after the COO joined. She just never liked me so I could never get anything right. I tried my best for six months but it just wasn’t working. There was nothing else for me to do but go. But still there are a few things I would change.

Would you believe I’m still not completely over leaving that job? A lot of my former colleagues are FB friends so I’m able to see whatever pics they post of their work day (and they do – a lot). I’m ashamed to say I feel FOMO. Less now, thankfully, but as recently as last X’mas, when I saw that they played Secret Santa, I became furious. “I started that tradition! I did!” I huffed to anyone who would listen. As if I’d come up with the whole concept of Secret Santa to begin with. Ridiculous!

I asked my former CEO to be my referee for this new job and he agreed. I jokingly asked him, “Will you only say good things about me?” And he said, “Of course.” Haha. So glad we had that talk two days before I left. It plays a pivotal role in why we are friends/friendly today.

I want to embrace my Best Self. She’s in here somewhere. My Best Self thinks, then acts. She doesn’t react until she is calm. She doesn’t stew silently – she speaks up. My Best Self assumes the good in everyone until proven otherwise. She is patient, kinder, more compassionate. She is more receptive and less defensive to feedback/criticism. And most importantly, she is never late. Ha!

I can’t wait to show them what I can be.

Every time the sun goes down

I want us to talk again – the way we used to when the sun was coming up, and we were miles away from anywhere.

I want us to talk again – about all the things we would think about, yet never thought to say out loud to anyone else.

I want us to talk again – like the way we did before we wanted to do anything more than that. I want us to talk.

And if we never talk again, I want you to know that I miss that most of all – and every time the sun goes down, I think of all the things I wish I could tell you.

~ Lang Leav

This made me think of you, I said.

Now it makes me think of you too, you said.

(I’m sure he thinks of you all the time too, she said.)

It’s not that we can’t talk anymore, you said.

It’s just that things are different now and it’s too diffic–.

I know, I said.

You’ve said that before, I said.

I hope you’re well, you said.

I hope you’re well too, I said.

And just like that
we go back
to not talking
again.

Toe to toe, back to back, let’s go

I was running late for lunch with ATH today so I decided to book a cab. I had uninstalled my taxi app before going to Ireland and haven’t reinstalled it since I got back.

(I am also the last person in this country who does not use Uber for two reasons:

1) I’ve got to create an account and enter all my details, so signing up for Uber is a calculated move rather than something you do when you’ve been on the roadside for 20 minutes waiting for a cab or given up on your typical misguided optimism that you will get to the centre of town via bus-MRT-walk in half an hour.

2) It gets charged to my card and who’s got money in her bank account these days? Yep, not me. Heh.)

Instead of reinstalling my old taxi app, I decided to install Grabtaxi. I’d never used it before, I figured what the hey, give it a go. My impression of Grabtaxi was that it was merely a pool of the various taxi operators and whoever happens to be close/convenient takes my request. Survival of the fittest. But among taxi operators, not randos with a car a la Uber.

So imagine my surprise when a private car turned up for me. I guess Grabtaxi has gone the way of Uber now then? I got in, and All The Thoughts proceeded to fill up my head. Upon seeing a taxi on the road, I began to feel guilty that I was giving money to a schmuck with a car who is already wealthy enough to own a bloody car in this country who just happened to be going the same way I wanted to go, instead of a hardworking “taxi uncle” (what we endearingly call our taxi drivers here) whose actual livelihood is driving a taxi. Who has to pay commission + tax to the taxi operator for every job they do, plus pay an exorbitant monthly rental of the cab. (Grabtaxi takes a commission too, but less, and no tax, so the driver earns more.)

ATH laughed when I told him of my ethical dilemma and called me a softie. He said I should not feel guilty at all, that that’s the way it goes. It is, I know, but I can’t stop feeling bad that I deprived a legit taxi driver of $14 today.

I’ve been in a self-destructive mood these days. I want to experience freefall so I’ve been fighting the urge to jump off a cliff. JT said to me yesterday, “Don’t come crying to me when your heart is broken.”

I should feel more of an ethical dilemma about this than the taxi thing, but I will pick and choose my own ethics, thanks. I’m just playing with fire cuz I like the heat, you know?