Daily

One-Hit Wonder

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Z’s best bud Matt is bunking with us for two days, and his mom (my girlfriend Stephii) and I were discussing food options:

S: Do you need us to get groceries?
Me: Don’t worry about it, Alf’s been cooking a lot, and I can make anchovy pasta.
S: Your famous anchovy pasta!
Me: LOL! I really should expand my repertoire.
S: You are specializing!

This is why I have an inflated sense of self-worth… my friends are always making me feel good! But the truth is that I have been unreasonably faithful to one recipe all year. It’s a wonder that protests haven’t erupted at the dinner table, and I still get thanked. And it’s not even my recipe but a Gordon Ramsay knockoff–I’ve been cutting corners lately by omitting the capers and olives. Here it is in its full glory, if you want to try it too.

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Daily

Father’s Day

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I showed Alf a Father’s Day post that I found particularly touching, and reminded him that I’ve cleaned up my Facebook feed to mostly follow the best writers, thinkers, and creative personalities that I’ve come across, in the hope that some of it will rub off on me. As an afterthought, I added:

“Oh, and I also married you!”

“Well… we all make mistakes.”

“No, I’m actually very selective.”

My mother always told me to choose a guy who’d make a good husband and father, and I have to admit I never followed her advice when dating–I had other things on my mind! But my mother also told me I was born lucky, and when I look at the husband that I have, and the father that he is, I think that must be true.

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Togetherness

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My husband asked me a few days ago, “What do you like about me?” The correct answer to that, of course, is “Your body.”

But I also told him I’m often reminded of him when I read about yet another everyday hero who’s restored our faith in humanity with an act of grace or courage. I’m past the point of needing my husband to rescue me, but if you should ever land in a dire situation and find yourself standing next to him, count yourself very lucky indeed. For that, and for loving me—imperfectly perhaps, but unconditionally—our early anniversary lunch is on me today.

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Daily

On Being

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Everyone’s favourite ex-president (well this is limited to everyone in my tiny inner circle) made his first official appearance of the year yesterday. It was 1AM, our time, and as I was scrolling through my feed I noticed an irate friend’s comment on the “live” video, “Where is he going with this!?”

The bits that I caught weren’t too bad, nothing earth shattering, but some sensible advice and encouragements for college kids, and honestly, for anyone who’s questioning their purpose at the moment:

Don’t think about who you want to be. Think about what you want to do.

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Daily

To Dos

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I’ve kept to this notebook system of mine since October last year, and it’s probably the first time in my life that I’ve been faithfully using a notebook to get organised. The things that made a significant difference for me were the little checkboxes next to each item (I love ticking those!) and having category headers so I can see the spread of projects and also check on my work-life balance (will fix that in June).

Since I’m a commitment-phobe, I don’t fancy notebook systems that allocate a set number of pages for different functions; I like having the freedom to decide what each and every blank page should be used for. The stick-on tabs have really helped me with that—blue is for monthly deadlines and errands, and the yellows are for notes from meetings, workshops, and so on.

I would love to know how you get organised too!

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Daily

Choose Your Own Nightmare

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My friend Pat sent me this article today, along with the question, “Still want to go to Seoul?”

In the classic novel Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the protagonist tells the tale of his steamboat voyage up the Congo River to a destination of unimaginable danger. Having to choose between unavoidable evils on his journey, he tries to pursue the lesser one, recognising that he has to be “loyal to the nightmare of (his) choice”.

The US Navy’s aircraft “supercarrier” – the USS Carl Vinson – and its accompanying fleet of warships that constitute Carrier Strike Group 1, currently steaming their way towards the Korean peninsula, is unnervingly resonant of that story.

My answer was a resounding “YES.”

As I told my friend June over coffee, it seems appropriate that I would find myself in Seoul at this juncture, as I take stock of my life so far and decide on my trajectory for the next 20 years or so, if I’m lucky enough to have time on my side.

In a worst case scenario, if something were to happen during my solo getaway next week (and if I managed to survive), I would think to myself, “This world is so screwed, but I’ve never felt more alive.”

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Daily

News & Sadness

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“I think you should pray.”

This, from my husband late last night, as we were settling into bed. I was curious as to why he would say that now, as I’ve been spiritually adrift all my life. It transpired that he too was especially affected by the stories coming out of Syria over the last couple of days. To quote my “grandfather figure” Dan Rather:

Take a moment to pause in your day. Do not skip past this story as part of the background noise of our modern world. I believe we should force ourselves to at least consider the implications. Look at the pictures of the dead children. We are witnessing a sheer slaughter on our watch. It is a situation that doesn’t lend itself to easy answers, so the world chooses to look the other way.

Read his full post here.

I’ve been getting a fuller dose of the news on my FB feed–a result of active curating. It makes everything else seem trivial; sometimes I don’t even feel like sending a message to someone to say hello or to wish them a happy birthday, not when there’s all this tragedy and injustice swirling around us.

This is part of the reason I’ve scaled down all personal updates and done away with blog-promotion efforts; to me, status updates and blogs are just a step up from gossip–they’re there to satisfy our need for a peephole into someone else’s existence. Of course I’m honoured that friends and even strangers are interested in my life and my thoughts; for a while I was hooked on my Google Analytics stats as it was logging reads from places I’d never even heard of, lasting up till well over an hour! But if I were to rank reads by priority, it would be a good book first, followed by news and quality reads such as the NYTimes, followed by anything remotely educational or thought provoking (e.g. Brainpickings or the much-maligned School Of Life/Alain de Botton) and then daily life blogs, and finally gossip–my only vice, and it’s a cesspool.

My point is, there are much more important stories that need to be told right now, and they’re not mine. I do think that those of us who believe in it should pray, while trying to find a way to help. There is a site, Charity Navigator, which seems like a godsend as it evaluates the reliability of charities and gives each one a rating. This is its Syria page.

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Flashback

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Sometimes I’m glad my friends aren’t as unsentimental as I am, i.e. they’re not always tossing or deleting everything in their path. When I reverted to this blog address and decided to let my .com go, I did save over 300 posts in the form of screenshots, but I didn’t think twice about trashing all the online evidence. That said, it does make me smile to find bits and pieces of the past still floating around, like these two guest posts that I wrote for my favourite local bloggers, Justina and June. One’s about motherhood, and the other’s about movies.

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Bill Savings

anthony-indraus-134161.jpg Reading this post reminded me that our recent power/water bill fell just under $90–that’s for a family of four, in a four-room HDB unit. My parents and brother live in an executive condominium, and according to my mother, it’s not uncommon for their bills to exceed $300 per month. Our power consumption has been under the national average since we moved in, and in recent months we’ve managed to get our water bill under the average as well without making special effort.

The difference can be largely attributed to air-conditioning. When we bought our place, there were ACs installed, but we did the crazy thing by asking our contractors to dismantle them; we gifted them to one of our housing agents. We had one AC back in our previous home, but it gave Alf the sniffles every morning–once the sneezing sets in, he’s as good as incapacitated for the rest of the day–and it was one of many things we were determined to live without when we moved out.

We got what we wanted–Alf has hardly sneezed since we moved here, despite the fact that there’s construction going on all around us. It’s comfy and cool for most of the year, but I won’t deny that heatwave and haze months have left me questioning our decision. We use just three fans, a ceiling fan in the living area that cools the study area as well, a EuropAce jet turbine fan for the kids’ room, and a Mistral high velocity power fan for ours. We didn’t agonise too much over the choice of fans; Alf picked them out. Between them, I prefer the Mistral because it’s much easier to clean. We still use blankets so the fans are doing their job.

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