I’m easy like Sunday morning

So because I last took home a salary in July, and then I go and spend almost three months in one of the most expensive countries in the EU, I am, quite simply, a bit skint. When my solution to nearly-finished body wash was not to fork out $7 for a new bottle but to rummage through my room for a forgotten bottle or hotel soap somewhere, I knew I had hit rock-bottom.

(This exploration produced extremely favourable results by the way, so don’t dismiss this approach just yet! You never know how many bath products might be lurking in your room! By sheer tenacity I managed to find:

  • a huuuge tub of body scrub a friend had given me ages ago
  • yes – hotel soap from Greece! And Lanvin brand too, thanks
  • Lush soap (free gift)
  • two travel-sized tubes of men’s facial scrub (free gift) – I’m not using it on my face so it can very well go on my body
  • travel-sized bottle of body wash I had refilled with body wash my Scottish host provided (from my trip in May)

I also re-discovered body scrub that was already in the bathroom. I’ve had it forever but forgot about its existence because I don’t use body scrub often.

So yeah, it looks like I can hold on to my $7 for a little longer. Woohoo!)

I had gone to bed that night completely distressed about my situation. Granted, I’ve only been job-hunting since I returned home, so just a month. And a typical job search is about two months from application to offer, so this is still “normal”. But my dwindling funds are making me 24/7 ANXIOUS. Trust me, 24/7 ANXIOUS is not the state you want to be in. The next morning I woke up with two choices clearly on my mind – either sell my gold jewellery, or suck it up and get a part-time job. Guess which one I chose?

I sold my

 

 

Just kidding.

A few years ago when I left my last nursing job, I swore up and down I would never get back into nursing ever again. Well…fast forward to present day, if not nursing, then what? I have the experience, I have the skills, I NEED MONEY. So on Tuesday I will start my 3-weeknights and Sunday morning schedule at a GP not far from my house. They were looking for a full-time nurse too, but I couldn’t do it to myself. I haven’t reached that level of desperation yet. Plus I need my daytime hours free for full-time job-hunting and tv-watching.

I’m a bit *facepalm* about the whole thing. To be entering a new decade of life in 11 days (HELP) and to have to take on a part-time job? Omgwtf. Have I failed as an adult?! But instead of wallowing in self-pity and wasting time, I’m doing something to help myself and maybe that’s what real adulting is? I’m taking fate into my own hands. There should be no shame in that.

Correction: There is no shame in that.

Watch me go.

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I don’t wanna fight no more

Friends who forget friends are arseholes. You know the kind that only remember you when they want something from you? And once they don’t need you anymore they dump you like yesterday’s trash? What is UP with friends like that. Also, why on earth would you put up pictures of it on Facebook? Do you not think I would see it? WTF! That’s not to say I’ve never committed a friendship sin but wow, it feels like I’ve been on the receiving end of bullshit much more than the giving end lately. It fucking blows.

Okay, so…the upheaval I mentioned a few posts ago – I’m ready to talk about it. I’ve had a little over a week to analyse it and process the aftermath through hours of discussion with various friends and I think I’m at peace with it now. Not completely; I’m sure I’ll carry a small part of the hurt with me forever, but I’m sure that this too is something I will get over and eventually learn to live with.

A little over a month ago, I gave my resignation at my job. I had been contemplating it for months. It hasn’t been the same since the COO joined. She made too many changes too fast. And because I was on her team (and the only one on her team) the changes affected me the most. Her management style, for one thing, is too different from what I was used to. I was used to autonomy and not adhering to any sort of checklists, whereas law and order is what she lives for. She also commanded respect rather than worked to earn it, not like my CEO who is very likeable and approachable.

Because of our differences in personality and work style, we ran into issues every day about every single thing. However, whenever I did try to adapt to her style, it was still wrong. Right from the beginning she’s had trust issues with me. She never believed me the first time I would say something. I could tell her a fact, like, “My hair is black,” and she would go, “No, it isn’t. What makes you think it’s black? It doesn’t look black to me. Go look in the mirror and tell me if it isn’t red.” I swear, my hair is black. But the arguing back and forth would wear me down until I get tired and concede defeat – “Yes, my hair is flaming red.”

It was very demoralising.

No one in the company likes her. Everyone finds her snobbish and condescending. One girl, whenever she would complain to me about the COO, would intersperse every second sentence with “that bitch”. It felt great knowing I wasn’t being a drama queen. The COO is a bitch. But while it was nice knowing I wasn’t alone and that I had the support of my lovely colleagues, at the end of the day they would all go back to their respective desks and I was still the only one who has to work with her. If she was snobbish and condescending to everyone else, she was a hundred times worse with me.

I tried to speak to my CEO a few times but he would come back with his nowadays-standard line, “She’s your direct manager so I will let her handle it.” I was very shocked by his cavalier attitude. I thought the fact that I’ve been there longer than she has and the fact that I’ve had his back all this time meant something to him. But receiving $7 million in funding changes you. You get greedy, you don’t care about your people. You just want to grow the business bigger and bigger and you don’t care who you mow down in the process.

Even on my second last day when he and I sat down to talk, he was telling me the same thing. He is aware of her terrible attitude. He even said, “I don’t blame you because I wouldn’t want to work under her either.” But…”I need her.” What he didn’t need to say was, “I need her much more than I need you.” He asked me what it would take for me to stay. I was very frank – “Fire her and tomorrow will not be my last day.” Not possible, he said. Alright then. Okay. Then tomorrow is my last day, I said.

I was very emotional during this conversation. Fuck not crying in front of your boss. I was devastated and I was going to cry about it. I wasn’t ready to go. I wasn’t ready for this chapter to end. One year ago when I joined the company I didn’t think I would leave one year later. It felt like I was leaving my family. My colleagues are all so wonderful. I am especially close to this South African guy (platonically). He gave me a cute nickname in my first week and now everyone calls me that instead of my real name. “Who is going to call me xxx now?” I tearfully pleaded with the CEO. He just looked at me with sad eyes.

I understand it from a business perspective, why he needs her. She is good at her job, and she will be able to steer the company in the direction any business owner would want for their company – that is, the direction of success and wealth. But from a personal perspective, it felt like a betrayal. If he himself would never want to work under her, then why is he letting me work under her? This is me we’re talking about. Me. She who he calls his ‘friend’.

On my last day the CEO had to leave early so he came to my desk to say goodbye. I couldn’t even look at him. I was starting to cry. He asked for a hug. I declined. Doing so would have unleashed an endless waterfall of tears. He touched me on my shoulder and said, “Thank you for having my back all this time,” and off he went. Yeah, sure, okay, but so much good that did for me, right?

For days afterwards I was paralysed in bed. I missed my colleagues something awful. Every few hours a different person would text me to say they missed me. I was liked there, goddamit. I was liked. This whole thing is just so, so unfortunate. But with every passing day I begin to realise…there was no other way. The CEO has to grow the company with the COO’s help; I couldn’t work with the COO so I had to go. Simple. This was just another lesson I had to learn.

I began job-searching a few months ago, which resulted in a job offer last week. I declined it though. I was honest with myself: It isn’t what I really want. I have a couple more interviews lined up but mainly I’ve been relaxing. In fact, in true TFC style, I’ve decided that instead of jumping into my next gig immediately, I’m going to take a few months off to do something I’ve been thinking of doing for a while now…

I’m going to work at a B&B via Workaway. It’s unpaid work, but I get full board. When I was in Scotland I stayed at a few B&Bs and I wondered what it would be like to own and operate one. And here is my chance to find out. And no, the B&B is not here, not even on the same continent. Faaar from it. No, it’s on the continent I’ve been steadily visiting every year since 2012. Yes, it’s Europe. Specifically, Ireland. Western Ireland. It was the next faraway country I was going to visit anyway. I’m entering a new decade (!!!) of life in four months. If I don’t do it now, I never will.

God-willing, I depart in a few short weeks. God-willing, I will stay in Ireland for a little over two months. I will spend my time off travelling around the area. Cliffs of Moher is just half an hour from the B&B. Be still my heart!

Before I get to the B&B though, I will be in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for a few days. Hozier – my Hozier – is performing at a music festival on the 24th of August. How could I miss him in his own motherland? And then on the 16th of September, you would not believe it, but Rachael Yamagata is performing in Dublin. I missed her concert in Singapore this year because I was in Glasgow catching Hozier in concert. Turns out I will get to see her this year after all – just far away from Singapore, that’s all. And I get to see Hozier twice this year. What luck!

If it sounds like I’m all chill about this, let it be known that I am PETRIFIED. I’ve got it all pretty much planned out and you know what they say about the best-laid plans. The longest I’ve been away from home is three weeks. Two months is a crazy long time to be away from home. What if I missed home? What if I missed my bed? What if I missed my friends? What if I missed… *cough* my father? I laugh about it now but it’s entirely possible and the thought of it is terrifying.

But I need this. My body needs this. My soul needs this. And maybe I will miss my father. But maybe I need that too.

So…that’s me. How’s your life going?

Put the grenade pin in your hand

25th Ramadan

Yesterday I broke out my bottle of fancy olive oil that I bought in Cinque Terre in 2013 to make aglio e olio. Aglio e olio doesn’t need fancy olive oil, but I’d run out of regular olive oil and I really wanted aglio e olio. MM my former Italian teacher/friend type person told me I should use that oil only for salads so I could really taste the fanciness. I’ve yet to crave for a homemade salad since I bought the oil…but I always want pasta…

It’s Sunday night. I have a dull headache. And it’s very, very hot and sticky in here. There is no travel-related post today because I am tired. But there is this.

We move offices tomorrow. I’m already stressed out.

You know what? Crazy Canadian COO wanted to designate seats in the new office. She wanted to control who sits where and most importantly, with whom. I know she hates it that certain people are sitting close together in the current office. She had gone so far as to write everyone’s names on pieces of tape that she pasted on the desks. Because she thinks we are all a bunch of kindergarteners who needed to be told where to sit. Luckily the CTO found the whole thing utterly ridiculous and rejected the idea and ripped out all the tape. It’s nice to see at least one of the founders still has a spine.

I’m counting down till Vietnam. Just three weeks to go. I’ve scheduled for a different kind of massage every day for five of the six days I’m there and I can’t wait for some small Vietnamese women to knead away the stress of the last six months from my body.

And I’ll cry and you’ll cry and we’ll cry until the rain turns black

This song, this specific version, has got my loins burning. Holy shit, Paolo Nutini. You are sexy as all get out.

I downloaded his album ages ago but I didn’t give it a proper listen. I was alllll about my Hozier then. (Still am. Not gonna lie. But I’ve managed to put that sexy beast aside for a moment to allow this sexy beast in.) And then in Scotland I found out that Paolo Nutini is Scottish, not English as I previously thought, and then I started hearing him everywhere. I took him back to Singapore and here he is now, living and thriving. He’s fantastic.

I’ve been out sick the last two days from a fever that began last Friday and came back on and off. I got sick on day 3 of my UK trip. Cough and cold that lasted one and a half weeks. And now I’m sick again. Oy vey. I’ve enjoyed staying home though, I must say, even if my stupid LadyBoss* kept texting and emailing and basically made me do work even though I was running a 38C fever. The bitch.

*I got a new boss in January in the form of a deranged, sadistic, evil spawn of Satan Canadian woman. I hate her.

Think now’s the time to let it slide

I listened to this non-stop on the way to work, non-stop at work, non-stop on the way home, and non-stop since I got home. At some point this week (probably Thursday) I will get sick of it, so sick I can’t listen to it again for another month, and I’m scared of a future without James Bay all day, every day.

This week has been so stressful it’s probably going to give me a few more grey hairs than I already get once in a while (yeah…fml). And it’s only Tuesday! Why must payroll be so damn complicated?! When we finally get our finance person, he or she will take over payroll and I’ll be relieved but I’m sure the control freak/busybody in me will miss knowing exactly how much each person is getting too. Ungh.

Two cousins of mine got married in the last two weekends. I have Feelings about that. Major Feelings. Espesh about the first one. She is my favourite cousin and my mother’s favourite child that wasn’t hers. In her early teens, she proudly declared that she would take my mother away from me and ask my mother to live with her when she grew up. She and my ma were tight. Poor baby was devastated when mum died and she still can’t talk about mum without crying. Anyway, Feelings. I’ll talk about that some other time. Maybe. I always lie when I say that.

So there was that high-profile death that happened recently in this old wee country o’ mine. I don’t want to write his name because I don’t want my blog appearing in searches of his name. Although there are a gazillion articles of him out there that my blog would probably be relegated to, like, the 5847th page, or something. But whatever. So that happened, and it’s weird. He has always been an omnipresence and to have him be forever dead is just…huh. And that sums up my overall sentiment about his death: huh. I’m very eloquent, I know.

I bought plane tickets for my next two overseas trips on the same day recently. I sound like a douche. I’m sorry. Going to the UK in May and then Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, in August. I had already bought my UK ticket when the government announced that we get a special extra day of public holiday in August due to the 50th anniversary of our independence. So I promptly purchased my Vietnam ticket. Was going to do it much later but if I didn’t do it then ticket prices will increase. Thank you, government. And no, I refuse to stay here during that precious 4-day weekend.

I didn’t like England too much when I was there last three years ago, but Hozier aka second only to Rachael Yamagata in terms of being my favourite, is performing in Glasgow on 27 May. Dude will not be coming here anytime soon, I know that for a fact, but I love him now and I can’t wait, plus I’ve always wanted to go to Scotland anyway? So why not make it a proper two-week holiday? Give London another go, and add Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye to the list, too? Why not, indeed. God-willing, I will get there in less than two months.

My colleague SK is coming with me on this trip. It’s cray. I’ve never travelled with a colleague in my life. But we’re thick as thieves and I’m 99.99% certain that we’ll get along just fine. We make each other laugh all the time. We call each other all the time too – after work and on weekends. It’s hilarious. He’s gay, so there’s no funny business going on here. Still I’m sure a scandal will break out when the office finds out we’re travelling together. That’ll be funny.

We’ll be dancing once again and the pain will end

It’s the last day of January, and I’m finally panicking about letting this month go without an update!

I am terrible at writing about my travels anymore, but here’s a sneak peek: the climb up the 2,799 m tall Ijen volcano from my Indonesian trip took a harrowing 2 hours and 40 minutes. I almost gave up a few times. I don’t particularly enjoy climbing; it tires me out and being tired is not very pleasant, is it? I just like the view from the top and the fact that I can say I did it. Which is why I keep finding myself climbing mountains whenever I go on holiday despite being close to tears the whole time.

My friend S’s mother – the same S I went to Cambodia with in 2012 and whose father passed away the day we landed back in Singapore – passed away on the eve of my birthday. I had already been thinking of cutting my trip short (for reasons I may or may not expatiate on some other time), and it just served to reinforce my decision. I took the first flight out on my 29th birthday.

1

Yes, the birthday I had intended to spend on a beach in Lombok. I didn’t care about my birthday too much, just that my friend’s mother was dead. I’ve been there before, I know how hard it is. I wanted to be there for her. I flew the same route home as those unfortunate people on AirAsia just four days before they did. My flight was blessed with clear blue skies and I remember feeling thankful for it. But the entire journey saw me sobbing quietly in my seat. I could not stop thinking about my own mother.

There was a lot of crying on my birthday. Naturally.

Fell sick on NYE, which lasted a few days into the new year. Let’s just say there were a lot of bathroom trips and mild dehydration. My two Indo travel partners got sick with the same thing so we reckoned it was food poisoning. Thanks, Indonesia!

New Year’s Day came and went. Three days later, one year ago, my cousin F officially died. I dealt with that also with tears.

It’s been an insanely trying month at work. People were stressed out and bursting into tears left, right and centre – me included. There was one day when I’d already had my second cry by 10am. A colleague whom I’ve always liked and respected noticed how miserable I looked and took me out for coffee even though he was on a deadline. The next day I found out he hadn’t gone home that night in order to meet his deadline. I got him a latte and a sandwich for breakfast that he grin-ate in two minutes flat. Another colleague, after another tear-filled day, brought cut fruits to my desk. I nearly gave him a kiss on his cheek. Later I initiated a very difficult conversation with someone that went surprisingly well. There was an apology and a reassurance that it would never happen again. I think they really meant it.

We launched our new website and my big crazy face is on the team page under a shortened version of my name. I told an exaggerated story about not wanting to be discovered by a former stalker. But the truth is there are just several people from my past who do not need to know anything about me. Everyone bought it and sought to protect my online identity. I feel bad for lying but unfortunately in this case it was necessary.

My NYC friend GKM is currently thawing in Dubai and will make her way to Singapore next Friday. I am immensely excited about this. I haven’t seen her since Paris in November 2013. (I’m sorry if that sounds obnoxious – it’s just a fact.) She’s staying for five days. That’s the longest I will have ever hosted anyone. We’re going to have a boss time.

And then we’re going to Tokyo together! I’ve mentioned my Japan trip before. I just didn’t say it would be with her. I hope it all goes well. I just want to stuff my belly with sushi and sashimi and be happy.

There’s the last kiss that we were meant to have but the crossing light turned white too fast

Have you had so many friends come out of the woodwork at the same time? The last few weeks has seen a steady stream of people I haven’t talked to for a long time drop a message or call and it is weird-cool.

One friend has an uncanny knack of getting in touch when I’ve been thinking of messaging him. It happens every single time, it’s probably not uncanny anymore.

One friend Skype-called me as he was driving to work – in Guatemala. And the best part was that the connection only died once during our 30-minute conversation. From Guatemala to Singapore, while he was on the road. That’s impressive!

One friend is planning a month-long trip to Europe next April and asked me to join for all or some part of it. The travelling-with-a-friend debacle of 2012 is still very fresh on my mind so I’m not sure, but I’m thinking about it. I do miss her, and I’m always looking for an excuse to go to Europe again.

One friend asked if I know of a shop that sells a huge variety of baking supplies – course I do – and that we should meet soon. Yes, we should. And we have to mean it this time, I tell her.

One friend…my absolute favourite of the lot – but don’t tell anyone. We didn’t talk for the past year for various reasons but especially one stupid, stupid reason. Well, he had to be coaxed out of the woodwork. I heard a Rachael Yamagata song, thought of him, texted him that I missed him…and he said he missed me too, and how did I know he was in a deep, shitty hole? I didn’t know. But I must have…somehow. We’re friends again, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Also, “You were right. About everything.” Of course I was. “I told you so,” I wanted to say, but I didn’t. I won’t.

There are several others still, and all of these…rekindling of relationships is making me kind of like life just a little bit more. It’s really awesome when it works, huh?

Speaking of liking life, how’s this to make me change my mind. I woke up suddenly from a dream about mum this morning. I wasn’t planning on describing the dream in detail or even mentioning it at all but a few months from now when I re-read this post I’d have forgotten what the dream was about and it would really annoy me not being able to recall it. So this is for you, future TFC:

I had a dream that I was frantically looking for a piece of paper where I apparently had made a monthly record of money I’ve given mum from my salary. In my culture, once you start working full-time, you give your parents some money from your salary every month as a way of giving back. Usually it’s your mother, because Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said honour your mother three times before your father; and also because mothers are generally more loved in my culture. It could be as little as $50, but it’s the thought that counts. So in this dream she was already dead, but I was looking for this piece of paper for whatever reason, and I couldn’t find it, and I woke up, and for a split second the subject of the dream alone was enough to make me sad. But when it occurred to me that no such thing exists in real life – that I had never given her money from my salary because she died before I finished school…hoo boy. I started sobbing. It sucks when that happens.

On a lighter note, work is going really well. Been here a month and a half now and I’m still loving it. My colleagues are all nice and I’m pretty sure my boss would trust me with his life if I let him. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. It’s pretty scary. But also nice to be thought of as trustworthy again after enduring six months of bullshit from my psychotic ex-boss. Person #4 who was planning to quit this year has not only quit but left the country. He’s got a job in Australia now. Good for him. Now#5 is just biding his time. AM is so fucked!