Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

So in an unexpected turn of events, not one but two friends I haven’t talked to in a few months because they revealed themselves to be jerks have extended an olive branch to me in the last 24 hours. One to wish me Eid Mubarak (immediate internal reaction: “Thanks but…ok”) and the other, to ask me to check out the Israeli Film Festival together (immediate internal reaction: “FUCK YOU” and “Ooh, I didn’t know it was on”.)

In case it isn’t obvious, I’m not too thrilled by these olive branches. I actually don’t even like olives? I wanted to reject them both. I’m not angry anymore. I’m just not interested. Still, I decided to wait several hours so I wouldn’t say something I’d regret. I eventually decided on “Eid Mubarak to you too. Hope you had a good Eid” and “Thanks, but I won’t be in SG” respectively. (Not a lie. I’ll be in Vietnam next week. Story for another post.)

“Mine was just ok,” said one. “Oh, where are you going?” said the other. The first one may or may not have been bait for me to enquire further; the second clearly demands an answer/further interaction.

I haven’t responded to either. Maybe I don’t want to? But I also don’t want to be a dick? We were good friends when we were friends. But I’m also not ready to make nice. But if I wait to be ready I never will be. But…

I don’t know what my next move is so I’m sitting here being passive-aggressive and bellowing to the Dixie Chicks.

And it hurts with every heartbeat

How good is this song, seriously? I re-discovered it yesterday thanks to Spotify (so much love for Spotify!) and the last two minutes when she keeps repeating “and it hurts with every heartbeat” I echoed her – over and over – the whole damn day…both yesterday and today. Yes, I’ve been an annoying colleague to have. But not for much longer. I’ll get over this song tomorrow.

Last week I went to a salon to restock on Aveda products (their curl line is the only thing that my hair semi-listens to) and the lady who rung me up suggested I straighten my hair “so it would be more manageable”. I’ve heard that so many times I couldn’t even be arsed to respond with words. I just smiled and let her finish her spiel. Boring people always want you to be boring like them.

Speaking of boring, can someone tell me what the hell is up with the ‘painted on eyebrows’ trend? Suddenly everyone is walking around with these really dark, bloody rectangles above their eyes! They’re not just filling them in with eyebrow pencil! I swear the brows on these women are painted on! And not even freehand so they have a chance to look somewhat natural! No, there must be rectangle stencils that people are putting over their eyebrows and colouring in using a paintbrush! Is it supposed to look good cuz it ain’t! Don’t you feel stupid having to wipe off your eyebrows at the end of the day? Cuz I would! Stop it!!!

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!

I’m so mad I’m getting old, it makes me reckless

My head’s been all over the place since I got back. You know, jetlag + general post-holiday blues + extremely intense personal stuff I can never talk about here, and always, always, always interspersed with the fiercest longing for my mother. Yes, that old thing. It never ends.

Turns out there is a huge difference between feeling ready to go home and actually being home. The first time I took the bus I finally noticed and was surprised by how green the trees were. I’d grown accustomed to seeing red leaves and golden leaves; evergreen leaves, even though I’ve been surrounded by them my entire life, suddenly seemed…wrong. Abhorrent, even. They signalled home. Real life that is made up of bills, frizzy hair, and other such problems. Problems I was able to ignore for as long as I was away that I suddenly had to face and tackle.

As rainy and dreary and bone-chilling Dublin got at times, it was Dublin, Ireland, not – ugh – Singapore.

For one thing, I always had great hair in Ireland.

Three weeks on – and today is exactly three months since the day I landed in Belfast, too – I am still in turmoil. The jetlag and the post-Ireland blues are gone, but the other stuff is still very much causing chaos to what could have been a quiet, peaceful existence. That’s what makes me furious. It’s not even my issue, but because there is only one person on the entire planet it could ever affect, it’s my cross to bear and the burden I have to carry. I could be almost happy, if not for this. I mourn for what could have been every single day.

What has helped to keep me relatively sane and zen is going back to basics, and when one is a Muslim, going back to basics means to submit, prostrate, and supplicate. Say what you want about praying or religion but time and again I’ve discovered that when I’m at my absolute lowest, it is the only thing I can rely on.

And also of course my amazing aunt and uncle who offer unconditional support even though they have four children of their own. My aunt is like my surrogate mum. Not quite like the real thing, not in the slightest, not for a second, never, ever. But it is the closest to what I imagine having an adult relationship with one’s mother is like. Her mother died when she was 19 and her mother was 48, too. So she knows what it’s like and what she’s doing for me.

Today being the 24th of November reminds me that there is exactly one month left for me to be a twenty-something. Can’t believe my twenties are over. I’m not ready to enter a new decade of life. I don’t know that I lived my twenties well. I squandered it on useless things, useless people. I have a lot of stamps in my passport but I’m nowhere I thought I would be in the year I turn 30. It’s a scary thought, that I might have wasted my youth.

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?

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.

It was over my head, I know nothing at all

Last night I dreamed that I was being attacked and chased by people I was trying to help. I don’t know those people in real life, but something like that did happen in real life recently – minus the physical attack. Yeah, I’ve discovered that some people are just not worth my time and effort.

This morning I made waffles with my new waffle maker. I bought a new vacuum cleaner too. But my new home appliances deserve their own post. It seems unlikely, but my new home appliances are actually worth expatiating on. Anyway, I can now make waffles at home. I browned the butter so carefully it came out the most beautiful shade of brown; I whipped the egg whites so stiff until I could do this.

stiff

The other night I finally decided to take the wall clock I bought in Paris two and a half years ago, out of its very dusty box. It’s very cheesy, it has the Eiffel Tower on it. I don’t know why I decided to take it out now… But you know what? It doesn’t even work. I thought my battery was dead. I replaced it with a fresh one – still doesn’t work. Figures, doesn’t it? My Paris clock won’t move. It makes total and complete sense, really.

An online friend whom I stayed with when I went to NYC in 2008, and whom I met again for a brief moment in Paris one year ago, emailed me saying she would like to come to Singapore in February. One week ago I knew how – and where – I was going to spend my Chinese New Year 4-day weekend plus the week after, and that place wasn’t Singapore. But now…now I’ll take a guest in my home, sure.