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.


Heaven can’t help me now

It’s one thing to make a bad decision whilst inebriated – be it on alcohol, drugs or emotion (genuine or otherwise). But to make a bad decision fully sober and conscious is quite another. It would be a while before I can look at myself in the mirror without wanting to throw up.

Someone like you and all you know and how you speak

I was thinking last night about my best friend. She’s not my best friend anymore, not really, but neither is she my former best friend per se. She’s a best friend I don’t talk to anymore. Can that be a thing? Can someone you don’t talk to anymore still be considered a best friend, or a friend at all?

I talk to her all the time though. I have imaginary conversations with her all the time. How sad and pathetic does that sound? It’s the truth. When I have something to talk about, or complain, it’s her I think about. It’s her I pretend I’m talking to. It’s her who is laughing with me or empathising with me. Out of all the best friends I’ve had in this life, she is my favourite. She is five years younger than me but she really, really gets me and we always have fun.

We hadn’t talked for five months before she texted me saying she was sorry and that she missed me very much and could we go back to normal again? But I was still mad. So even though I said, “Apology accepted,” I also said, “But I don’t think we can go back to normal.” I waited an hour before sending her that. I probably should have waited longer. Maybe I would have sent her something else.

We’ve texted each other twice since then, but it was me who initiated the conversation, even though it was her who was keen to rebuild the friendship in the first place. She was genial and seemed interested in the goings-on in my life beyond what I initially texted her about, so I waited for her to initiate contact with me on other days. But she didn’t, hasn’t, won’t. Maybe what I said was too off-putting, even for her. Maybe she thinks I’m a bitch and it’s pointless to be friends with a bitch. Like I said, I probably should have waited longer to send her that message. Because I would have sent her something else.

While I was thinking about her last night I wanted so much to text her and tell her I miss her and this time be the one to ask if we could go back to normal. But I stopped myself. What is “normal” anymore? We haven’t seen each other for far too long. It would be much too awkward. I’m far too proud. Pick one. Or all. Whatever it is, it’s not gonna happen. And it sucks.

Lay your cards on the table

12th Ramadan

1. “My mom didn’t”


This, from today’s PostSecret. I mean, WHOA. Right? It might as well have been sent by me.

2. TV addict

I am eternally grateful to this Thought Catalog article for introducing me to the brilliance that are My Mad Fat Diary, which I – yes, binge-watched – in two days, and Orphan Black, which I am also binge-watching. I’m really, really excited when tv shows are so good. I’m getting the same feeling I got when I discovered Homeland last year.

3. So this is how it feels

This week was our (my?) first week without DS. On Monday I came in…and LO the new guy was seated at DS’s desk, as I knew he would. Still it took my breath away. And then AM asked me, not one minute after I sat down, “You’re missing him, aren’t you?” Because I’m the biggest softie in the world, my eyes immediately welled up. I was so afraid my voice would crack so I muttered my reply under my breath: “No.” AM’s response? “Liar.” I had to run to the bathroom to cry privately.

On Tuesday, AM mentioned that he was missing DS, that the office was quiet without him. I couldn’t handle that either. I had to run to the bathroom to cry. AM never mentioned DS again, but I didn’t need anyone to bring him up to be reminded of him and be sad all over again. My eyelid was twitching that day, and when the same thing happened the week before, it was DS I whined to about it. I actually looked around the office and wondered who I could tell about it now, and most importantly who would care. Needless to say, the answer to my question warranted another trip to the bathroom. I did the bathroom run about five times that day, no joke. I had to have a real good cry when I got home.

Wednesday onwards, however, I was okay. DS and I communicated a bit via Whatsapp. He made me laugh, as usual. Slowly but surely, I’ll be okay.

Missing one’s colleague is dumb.

4. The Talk

I finally had The Talk with AM. About his perv of a friend, the bloody feet tickler. Despite my cool and steady preamble, AM was cupping his mouth with his hand. I asked him why he was doing that, and what he said made me laugh my head off: “I just know your story will make me cringe.” Haha!

The first thing he said was, “That’s what someone would do in the UK.”

(P.S. Not at any point during our conversation was AM a dick. He was very nice and understanding about the whole thing, even if he was trying to defend his friend.)

Me: You lot are not in the UK anymore. Try again.

Him: You don’t speak with a Singaporean accent, and apart from not dressing skimpily, you don’t look like a Muslim. He probably has no idea you’re even a Muslim.

Me: Whether or not I’m a Muslim has got nothing to do with it. It should not matter what I am or what I’m not. He should just learn not to touch people as he pleases. Feet tickling was just taking the piss.

Him: I agree. That’s too much.

Me: I’m not asking for your approval. This is just a ‘letting you know’ thing, a heads up of what happened and what I’m going to do. Next time if he even touches my hand I’m going to…

Him: Don’t slap him. *laughs*

Me: *laughs* (AM knows me well.) No, I won’t slap him.

Him: Unless he slaps your arse first.

Me: Oh. YES. If he did that I would punch him. But if he even so much as touches my hand I’m going to tell him no. I’m going to say it like this, “I prefer not to be touched.” I’ve had enough.

At this juncture I need to thank Chelsea for the wonderful comment she left on my original post. If you read her comment you will see that I lifted those words exactly – and the rest of my conversation – from her comment. My conversation with AM kind of went as she (sort of) predicted it would.

Him: Ah…okay. But maybe you could soften the blow a bit? Maybe you could say, “I’m a Muslim. It’s not my culture to touch the opposite sex unless we’re blood related. So I hope you don’t touch me. If you don’t mind.”

Me: *laughs* NO. First of all, he’s not a child. I don’t need to ‘soften the blow’. Secondly, I don’t need to justify why I prefer not to be touched. I just don’t. I don’t have to give anyone a reason. It’s my body and I’ll make the decisions. And thirdly, ‘If you don’t mind’? Are you serious right now, AM? I don’t care if he minds it or not. I still don’t want to be touched. (Although to be fair, “if you don’t mind” is such a British thing to say, a filler in a sentence. It doesn’t actually mean what it implies. But I still refuse to say it.)

Him: *sigh* You’re right. You’re absolutely right. You don’t have to justify it. He just has to respect it. (pause) Just be polite, yeah?

Me: I promise. Thank you, AM.

It went well, I suppose. AM knows now, and even better, I got him to agree with my approach to the situation.

Fuck having to be polite though. I hate that women are supposed to keep their cool when fending off perverts. For fear of humiliating them (I know precisely why I have to prevent that in this situation, but in different circumstances, when the harasser is just a random passing stranger – why do we care to maintain their dignity?), and for fear of some kind of retaliation (in my situation maybe not physical but in different circumstances, there’s always a chance they’ll go apeshit on you). I hate that women have to feel fear at all when we’re just trying to tell men to leave us alone. What can we do to change this?

All my tears have been used up

4th Ramadan

Yesterday, 12 July, was the day I’ve been dreading. It came and went, but that sinking feeling is still there. I fear it will stay there for a while.

It was my favourite colleague ever, DS’s last day at work. I barely saw him all week due to him being on-site a lot, tying up loose ends on his last project. It was like a practice session to prepare me for the real thing and heaven knows I needed it, but I was livid. It felt like he was gone before he even left. By the time he finally turned up early afternoon yesterday, I was ready to burst. Yep, I’ve got it bad!

He and I had made plans for me to go to his place later in the day to take some of his stuff, like his stand fan and lamp. They are both still in perfect condition. The offer for the fan was timely as my own fan has been acting weird. I was just going to take the stuff and run but from the minute he came in he’d been asking me (in a joking manner) to help him clean his apartment. I said no way and he said, “But why? You’re good at cleaning!” When I protested further, he used another tactic: “But I taught you to ride a bike!” AM died laughing.

While all of them were out for lunch (I stayed in and didn’t eat on account of it being Ramadan) I decided to make him a card. Talk about last-minute. I wasn’t inspired to do anything before, not even to buy a ready-made card. And everyone was hemming and hawing about getting him a gift. Not that I had any solid ideas on what to get him. Hmph. DS normally keeps a buzz cut but I have a photo of him taken last year with a completely shaved head (the barber spoke no English, DS speaks no Chinese…his instructions were lost in translation) and striking a pose like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. He looked absolutely ridiculous. I added the words “AN IDIOT ABROAD” to it – honouring one of our favourite shows and our main topics of conversation, Karl Pilkington – and printed that picture on card stock and emailed everyone to write a few words on it when they got back.

In the meantime, I had to write something. Only I was panicking about them coming back and DS catching me so my mind went blank. I thought for a moment about writing that I was sad to see him go, but I knew everyone would give me grief about being maudlin so I womaned up and eventually quoted Ricky Gervais when describing Karl Pilkington – “Head like a fucking orange!” and said something about not farting at the new person sitting next to him in London.

People got back, read their emails, and the card was discreetly passed around. When it was returned to me and I read what everyone had to say, I could not keep a straight face. Everyone’s message was so funny! KK went one step further and printed a photo of himself sticking his tongue out (taken separately sometime ago), pasting it on the back of the card. Seriously DIY, that card is. But if I know DS as well as I think I know him, he’d prefer a homemade card to an unoriginal store-bought card any day. When he read the card he broke into peals of laughter, especially at that picture of KK. I thought I spied both KK and DS getting slightly misty-eyed when they hugged. Those two are partners in crime, I know, but nevertheless I was surprised to see a hint of emotion. We left, and DS walked down the stairs for the final time. I think I was sadder about that than he was.

When we got to his place, he asked me again to help him clean, and I realised that he wasn’t joking. DS being DS, had left quite a lot of packing to do still, and to add cleaning to that…well, he would never be done before 8. He was meeting some of his friends at whatever time he was done packing and cleaning, and had to be back by 9:30pm at the latest to be able to freshen up if he wanted to make it to his midnight flight. So what did I, forever the sucker when it comes to DS, do? I got down on my hands and knees and fucking cleaned, that’s what. No, I’m not in love with him. I’m just really fond of him in a totally platonic way and I wanted him to be able to meet his friends before his flight. I’m nice.

I complained the whole time about being exploited, but secretly I enjoyed my last hours with DS. He put on Jake Bugg (“Jake Boog”) and we chatted over the music about anything and everything, just like old times. Only it wasn’t. Only he was packing up a year and nine months’ worth of his life in Singapore, and I was helping him with it. It was surreal.

It turned out he had more to give away than just his fan and lamp. This guy rarely cooked at home, yet he was fully equipped to do so. He was stocked in everything from sunflower oil to Japanese rice to garlic bulbs, all barely used. He even had a whole bag of flour, never opened. Being never one to waste food, I could not let any of it go to waste. In my pile they went. Same with cleaning supplies – still almost full. Mine.

Many, many laughs later, the packing and cleaning came to an end. I found myself actually looking for something else to clean in order to prolong my time with him, and was disappointed to see that my work was done. Truly. “Shall we go?” It was 7:45pm. No. But if we must…

He carried most of my loot for me downstairs where we waited for a cab. I thought I would have a million things to say to him. (I think I did, only my mouth wouldn’t utter them.) We waited until a cab arrived to exchange last words. “It has been a pleasure…” DS started. “Same,” I said quickly (too quickly). “And thank you for all this stuff.” DS changed directions. “Cheers, TFC. Thank you for helping me clean.” My throat was constricting. “You’re welcome,” I choked. No, no, no, don’t cry!

“DS,” I didn’t say. “I’m going to miss your maniacal laugh, and your still-sometimes-hard-to-decipher accent, and you calling me mardy, and you knowing just what to do when I’m mardy (“Don’t ask her what’s wrong or try to console her. Let her hum away and read her food blogs and she’ll be happy.”), and you changing my desktop picture when I step away from my computer (usually to Karl Pilkington), and you calling Rachael Yamagata “Rachael Yamaguchi” just to wind me up, and you winding me up and saying, “I’m just winding you up,” when I get miffed. I’m going to miss you asking me if I’ve got food for you (“No! But I’ll bring you some tomorrow…”). I’m going to miss your crazy commuting stories and how you like to listen to mine. I’m going to miss your misguided usage of Singlish. I’m going to miss how you teach me to be Zen (not that it’s working). I’ll even miss the boring lessons you give me on construction (drawings are the worst). But most of all I’m going to miss you, as a person, a colleague, a confidante, a friend. You are the best person I’ve ever worked with, the best person who has ever sat next to me anywhere. The office will be less alive without you. I will be less alive without you… (at least for a wee while)”

He placed my (his) things in the boot and said, “All right.” Oh God. It was time. He threw his arms around me. I obliged. It was DS. I wanted to hug him. I can no longer remember what was said in that brief few seconds of embrace; I don’t think I registered anything beyond the fact that DS and I were embracing, so he must be leaving, and NO NO NO. He must have noticed the look of anguish on my face and the stunned silence, for he pierced the air with, “Don’t get emo!” And just like that, I laughed again.

This will take some getting used to.

I knew you were trouble when you walked in

Okay. I’m just going to dive right in. We rent out one half of our office to my director AM’s friend. We see them only once or twice a month though as he is based in Hong Kong and his three employees work outside a lot. His three employees are fine, but him…right from the beginning he’s been very touchy-feely with me. Likes to touch my hands and shoulders when he talks to me. He’s also verbally flirtatious, not just physically. I’ve always been uncomfortable with it. The first time he touched my hand I remember thinking, ‘This guy has worked in Southeast Asia for so long, Malaysia even. He should know not to touch women as he pleases.’ But I figured, whatever – old guy (at least 50), AM’s friend, nice guy otherwise, doesn’t go beyond my hands and shoulders and I haven’t caught him staring at my rack yet. I’m a confrontational person most of the time and I’m not afraid to stand my ground most of the time and I don’t take shit lying down most of the time but I thought, hey, I’ma just let this roll off my back. I convinced myself that the touching is innocuous and didn’t let it bother me. On his last visit last month, however, after yet another super friendly conversation wherein he touched my hand, DS, who witnessed it, whispered to me, “He’s really flirty with you, isn’t he?” I was quite shocked that he took it as him being flirty and not just being friendly. I thought that DS, being a fellow Westerner and coming from a culture where hugs and kisses are freely bestowed upon opposite-sex strangers you just met – even though he and the rest knew not to do it with me – would see the old guy’s touchy-feeliness as just being a bloody ignorant Westerner and not as being flirtatious. See how we women second-guess ourselves even when our instincts tell us it’s harassment?!

Anyway. Today, he came in, and this thing happened after he’d come to my desk several times, asking me this or that (legitimate questions). I was seated on my chair with both legs tucked beneath me and shoes off. (I love sitting like this.) So my naked feet were sticking out from one side of my chair, in his direction. After the conversation ended he suddenly said, “You know, I have a temptation right now.” I thought it sounded a bit weird, but I asked anyway: “What?” I really shouldn’t fucking have. Guess what he said, or rather, did next? He bent down and tickled my feet! My hands immediately flew to my feet to push his hands away and I simultaneously pulled my feet away as I nervously laughed a “NO!”. But my hands of course touched his, and he lingered, and he’d already managed to do what he wanted to do anyway, and I felt sooo dirty afterwards. I should have slapped him. I should have at least not let out a nervous laugh and instead scolded him in unequivocal terms, “DO. NOT. TOUCH. ME.” But I didn’t. It caught me by surprise, it all happened so fast, plus I had already gone into that situation with the mindset of him not being a pervert but just a really friendly guy. It was one thing for him to be a pervert but I didn’t stop him.

He left the office soon after, and I later related the incident to DS, who wasn’t in the office when it happened. He kept saying, “I knew it! I knew he was flirting with you! Dirty bastard!” What else can he say besides that? The perv returned to the office in the evening, and I was about to leave but remembered I hadn’t done my dishes in the sink yet. I had to pass by him to go to the bathroom and saw that he was packing up to leave as well. He started telling me that he was returning to Hong Kong tomorrow and when he would be back in Singapore (next month, thank God) and I feigned interest. I was so engrossed washing my dishes that I didn’t notice him walking into the bathroom. (Even if I had though, even if both of my hands weren’t occupied, what could I have done – stopped him coming in? No.) He was going to deposit his used cup on the counter next to the sink. As he did this he said to me, “Well, I hope you feel better soon (I’ve been feeling a bit off these last couple of days and I told him so). Because you usually have a big smile on your face…” – as he said this he squeezed my shoulders like he was trying to comfort me – “and these days you haven’t smiled as much.” I hunched my shoulders and tried to move away but in that crammed space I had nowhere to go. Fucking hell. He just managed to touch me again.

Yes, sure, shoulders, not boobs. But still a touch that is unwelcome and not to mention completely unnecessary. He has to know I’m a Malay-Muslim (though my hair is uncovered). In my culture you don’t touch a woman anywhere unless you’re blood-related. Some women aren’t even okay shaking hands with the opposite sex and most men respect this! He has no excuse though cuz like I said he’s worked in Malaysia before. He should know this! But even if he had never worked among Muslims, among Asians, he should just err on the side of caution. In your culture you hug and kiss everyone? (Spain, omg. I died in Spain. Everyone wanted to kiss me in Spain.) Fine. But you’re in my territory now, goddammit. Do what the rest of the men are doing, i.e. NOT TOUCHING THE WOMEN.

I don’t want to be that girl that feels harassed by anything and everything. But the feet tickling. Come on.

I’ve had enough of this. Next time I see him and he touches me anywhere, I mean anywhere, even my hands and shoulders, I’m going to tell him in the most polite manner possible (why am I still worried about being polite? Oh, right. I don’t want to make it awkward. Why do I care? Oh, right. Boss’s friend. FML), “Please don’t touch me. I don’t like to be touched*.” Watch me. I’ll do it. He’s not allowed to cop a feel any longer.

*False. I like to be touched. Just not by him.

Bicycle races are coming your way

Yesterday afternoon, I saw it with my own eyes, DS purchased his plane ticket – one-way to London on 12 July. It’s official. My heart broke into smithereens.

We then left the office, grabbed some dinner, and headed to the beach for my second lesson in riding a bike.

True story: I never learned to ride a bike. My dad knows, but he never taught me. I didn’t have that kind of childhood. Coincidentally, there was a secret on PostSecret last week that might as well have been sent by me. I cackled when I saw it.


How bizarre is it, learning to ride a bike at the age of 27 from one’s co-worker from Northern England? It was DS’s idea. When I confessed that I didn’t know how to ride a bike, he offered to teach me. I thought he was joking. Which English guy in his right mind would give up a potential night of getting pissed with his friends to teach his colleague to ride a bike? But DS was serious.

Last Friday after work was my first lesson. Try as I might, I was never able to pedal. I mostly laughed my way through it, out of sheer embarrassment and nervousness. DS’s quips didn’t help either. That guy would have made a brilliant comedian. He said we would come again the following week. Yes, another Friday night sweating in the humidity and swatting gnats and mosquitoes instead of being in the pub (“poob” if said in his accent).

“Tonight’s the night. By the end of these two hours, you are going to be able to ride a bike,” he insisted, nay, warned.

I wasn’t too sure. However, fifteen minutes into the first hour, I was able to lift my left foot off the ground, get it on the pedal, and actually cycle for two seconds. Then two seconds turned to four, four turned to ten, ten turned to a minute, a minute turned into ten minutes. I couldn’t believe it. I mean I know riding a bike is not rocket science but I never believed in myself to succeed without falling a few times first. But there I was, pedalling, not falling. DS was so proud of me, like a dad would be. It was ridiculous.

I did fall later, when I got too confident and lost control. And again when he tried to teach me to turn. Several times. Ow. From then on, DS’s standard dialogue was: “Pedal, pedal, keep pedalling…good…turn now…go left…brake! Brake! Hit the brakes!”

I woke up today with multiple bruises on my shin and lower calf. They’re quite gorgeous. I have a thing for bruises. I can’t stop looking and I can’t stop pressing. It hurts so good. Totally worth it for now being able to ride a bike semi-confidently and also for getting to spend that time with DS. Heaven knows there’s not much of it left.