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Rise and dine

It’s a lovely Saturday afternoon today. The sun is out. Well, there were some raindrops falling on my head before I got into a cab. Thankfully, the skies were kind and the mild rain stopped.

I am here at a restaurant that is popular for its brunches and breakfasts. I’m excited. Well sort of, since I’m still waiting for my friends to finally turn up. Like one hour and 30 minutes ago. People should invest in a good alarm clock that spurts water onto your face like a Super Soaker whenever they hit the snooze button. I’m pretty sure people will find it hard to sleep with wet hair and a wet pillow. Then again, you’ll never know.

My stomach is growling like a maniac and threatening to tear out of my body in search of nourishment. My friends are texting their apologies. A starving person is not a happy person. Just saying.

The good news is I’ve decided what I want to eat: Sir Benedict (half an English muffin topped with smoked ham, streaky bacon, poached egg, hollandaise sauce and homemade mashed potato) and The Sleepover Special (French Brioche toast with grilled bananas, streaky bacon and maple syrup).

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Ok, I’ve ordered the meals. I have finished reading many articles on how fabulous the royal wedding was yesterday. And how the couple shared a kiss on the balcony. Twice.

From the Guardian UK:

“And the kiss on the palace balcony, duly demanded by the crowd below, was executed with poise and with a few blushes from an embarrassed William. It was a fleeting and quite chaste kiss. It was repeated as the crowd bayed for more, with William’s seeming awkwardness…”

Ahhh, makes my heart swoon. Especially since I’m not the only awkward person around. Now I can tell people even royalty is just like me. 😉

I’m still waiting. My hot chocolate which was dreadfully sweet has turned cold. And wahey even my food has arrived faster than my mates. How delightful!

Let’s see. It’s 1.30pm now. The crowd has been giving me sideway glances since my food arrived. People still waiting for a table around the restaurant have been staring at me sitting at a table meant for four. I am going to eat now, completely comfortable with strangers looking at me eat a meal for two all by myself. Yes.

If she was here, we’d order at least five dishes from the menu because that’s how we roll, Internet. We are the type of couple who can eat three meals together at one go. Yes.

Halfway through the tiny portions, my mates finally arrived. They ordered and good conversation started flowing.

After lunch, we strolled over to the botanic gardens nearby. It was crowded. The lush greenery was beautiful. You could see sparkles of the sun rays across the lake. The heat was marinating us in our perspiration.

We settled down under a shady tree in front of the outdoor theatre. The symphony band was setting up their musical instruments. Some young dancers were flitting around them in their sparkly dresses. We were just in time to see an Irish dance performance of some sorts.

When the music started, the dancers lined up in front of the band and began tapping their shoes. It was fun even though I am tone-deaf. People were busy snapping pictures on their phones.

I was busy trying not to sit with my legs crossed over another. I could feel the film of stickiness (or “niam ti ti” as she would say) on every inch of my skin as long as I sat still. Even my deodorant was starting to succumb to the natural forces of my armpits. I was very close to running home for a nice cold shower.

But it was a pleasant day to be out trying new food places and enjoying new experiences.

Yet through it all, I wish she was there.

It would be nice if we had a picnic on the green lawn with an ice cooler box filled with sweet dessert wine, juices and water. Maybe even with her 9.5 months old puppy (and yet weighs 20kg) running around us while we eat.

I thought about the fun picnic dates we had – the first one we had, we didn’t manage to fly our kite but we had a romantic time together. The second one had a really fierce wild monkey with really weird long uneven nipples chasing us and snatching our food. We even kidded about bringing my dog form to protect us next time we have picnics.

It would be so nice to share all these with you.

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Will you still love me tomorrow?

Two posts earlier, I wrote that I like watching TV. Some people drink alcohol to take the edge off a long workday. Some people go for a jog to clear their heads. Me? I like to watch comedies, criminal dramas or sci-fi shows to take my mind off things.

So I have been watching Modern Family, Cougar Town, Big Bang Theory, Glee, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Mythbusters and Two and a Half Men (I know right). These days, I include American Idol on my list of things to watch.

Two nights ago, I heard a haunting rendition of Carole King’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” by James Durbin, one of the remaining top six Idol finalists. Well, the first two bars anyway because he sang it a-cappella. By the time he launched into the rock version, I had goosebumps all over my arms. I think James is my new favourite contestant to root for after Pia got kicked out few episodes ago.

Why did the song affected me? It was partly the way he sang it that caught my attention. Then I heard the lyrics.

“Tonight you’re mine completely,
You give your love so sweetly,
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes,
But will you love me tomorrow?

“Is this a lasting treasure,
Or just a moment’s pleasure,
Can I believe the magic of your sighs,
Will you still love me tomorrow?”

It’s weird how certain songs can perfectly capture how you feel sometimes. Everyone must have felt the same way at least once in their life, even King. It was hard trying to enjoy the song and not cry.

So here is the song:

Will you still love me tomorrow?

You better love me tomorrow.

😀

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A vow I’d make to you

If you haven’t heard, the royal wedding is due to be shown on TV tomorrow. Say cheers if you’re planning to use the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton as an excuse to knock off work early or a reason to celebrate and pop some champagne. I know I am.

But before that, I was reading an article by Guardian UK. It was on love poems and how we can use beautiful poetry to celebrate our relationship or to reaffirm our love to that special someone.

Then I read this poem. It spoke to me. It said the exact words that totally describe how I feel. There are no big showy promises of “we have forever with each other” or “I’d say yes with every heartbeat”. Instead, it’s realistic, doable and close to my heart.

So one day when I have the opportunity to, this is the vow I’d make to you and I will mean every single word.

A Vow by Wendy Cope

I cannot promise never to be angry;
I cannot promise always to be kind.
You know what you are taking on, my darling –
It’s only at the start that love is blind.

And yet I’m still the one you want to be with
And you’re the one for me – of that I’m sure.
You are my closest friend, my favourite person,
The lover and the home I’ve waited for.

I cannot promise that I will deserve you
From this day on. I hope to pass that test.
I love you and I want to make you happy.
I promise I will do my very best.

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An extra ordinary life

Hi, I am 28 years old. I am an ordinary person living an ordinary life in a tiny metropolitan city in the southern part of the world.

This is a snapshot of a day in my extra ordinary life.

You know how these days, some people would tell you they love to write. And they enjoy writing in their journals or they have blogs where they chronicle every moment of their lives. And they ( most probably) aspire to write for a living.

Well, I’m lucky. I write for a living. Except I write about things that would generally only interest people if they want to fall asleep. Now I’m not very sure if I enjoy writing or I’m just resigned to doing something I’m relatively good at.

So like some people, I aspire to be a full-time blogger where I can earn a living simply by writing about my life. I can talk about me all the time. Every sentence starts with “I”. Anything that is vaguely interesting will be directly linked to myself. See how well this is working out for me so far?

I am of average height and average weight. I like to think I have a trendy fashion sense. But I have my off days.

Like you, I am insecure about my looks. I think about losing the flab around my tummy all the time. I think about exercising more often but I never do. I like junk food like hot salty fries. I am going through a long streak of bad hair days (14 days and counting).

I can’t wake up in the mornings without hitting the snooze alarm twice. I like to sleep although I don’t get a lot of it. I like watching tv a lot. I have to lie down for a bit (ok maybe longer) after a full meal.

I used to like reading fiction in their hardcovers. Then Internet stole my attention span. Now I read articles and ebooks on my phone.

I go to work in the mornings. I sit behind the computer for nine hours. I go home. I eat. I sleep. You and I are probably doing similar things in our lives.

But today, I did something you might not have done (yet). A donation of US$50 to Japan’s tsunami disaster fund was made under my name.

And that made me felt slightly better. What did you do today?

P/S: Also, I haven’t logged on to any social media networks for nearly three days now. (I accidentally opened an app but that’s not counted because I shut it off immediately!) For a brief moment yesterday, I thought I would be out of touch with the entire world if I didn’t get to read their updates. Then I realised that’s what online newspapers are for.

PP/S: It’s 5.23am now and I woke up growling in frustration midway a dream. I growled so loud I literally sat up in bed. Then I dropped my phone. I dreamt that I was stuck queueing somewhere at the airport for work and everyone was so inefficient. A reflection of my real life? Ha!

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Our home away from home

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It is a sunny late afternoon last month when we first arrived at the serviced apartment. At first, we could not locate it since it is nestled behind two main roads. It was indeed a hideaway from the bustling shopping and entertainment belt downtown.

Three imposing towers loomed over us as we walked into the first tower. The main lobby was well-lit and furnished with modern art sculptures and paintings. As we walked across to the second tower to check in, there were three swimming pools surrounded by the towers with pavilions flanking the pathway.

Walking into the cosily-lit lobby, a refreshing scent of osmanthus welcomed us while the staff on duty greeted our arrival with smiles. The lobby was decked out with modern art, luxurious couches, plush rugs and a contemporary ambience. Impressed, we spoke in hushed tones, fearing that we might disturb other occupants who were streaming through the doorway. Most were families, heading out to spend the remains of their Saturday.

Our guest service relation officer then brought us to the two-bedroom apartment that was to be our home for the next three days. It is in TWO WORDS – tastefully furnished.

Our future house

Let’s start with the living room. Clean cool colours outline the dark wood furniture, accessorised with quaint art pieces. You get to put your feet up in comfort in front of the entertainment system, complete with large flat screen TV, over 30 cable TV channels and a DVD player (pity we didn’t bring some movies along).

The kitchen is equipped with a microwave oven, a toaster, an electric kettle, a gas stove, a refrigerator, cooking utensils and eating cutlery. But really, it was the presence of the rice-cooker that impressed us most. Mainly because it took us by surprise as we had assumed most Caucasians expatriates would not have rice (a main staple of Asians) as part of their home dining plans.

There is a washing machine, ironing board and even laundry powder. In short, the apartment has all the things that make our lives a lot easier.

While the welcome gift basket (unheard brands of cup noodles and cakes, Ritz crackers, and Cadbury hot chocolate sachets) was a slight let-down when you have been given a visual feast of delights, knowing the entire place is fitted with free wireless internet more than made up for it. We could also use the cordless phone for free local calls or call the concierge for help.

Every room, bar the kitchen, is equipped with air-conditioning (something she really likes since she thinks she is always hot. Yes, all pun intended). Clean colours once again pervade the stylish master bedroom with dark wood furniture pieces surrounding the white king-sized bed. The second bedroom had two single beds which she immediately attempted to lock me in, taunting, “This room is yours! You belong to the kids’ room. The master bedroom is mine!”

Shower facilities are exactly what you would find in a five-star hotel. But we were asked to not to turn the water heater off because we would have to wait 20 minutes for the water to heat up. Over the next few days, we could also hear plumbing noises in the morning when the tenants above us used the bathroom. Weird.

Yummy meal time

It was 4ish and we haven’t had lunch so we cooked our first meal at the apartment. We had brought some instant noodles and cooking ingredients, fully anticipating our first of the many home-cooked meals together. We changed into more comfy clothes like, oh I don’t know, sexy pyjamas. She cooked spicy noodles, fried Taiwanese sausages while I made Ritz crackers with tuna paste mayonnaise and hot chocolate for her and tea for me. You know what, watching our favourite Discovery channel while eating a meal cooked by her was freaking awesome.

At around 5.30pm, someone slipped an envelope under the door which made us felt like we were in reality show “America’s Next Top Model”. It was a personalised welcome note that really made us think this serviced apartment truly values its guests’ comfort.

At 5.45pm, we headed out to get groceries for dinner. Although the map tells us we were only a stone’s throw away from the train station, we felt more assured when the helpful concierge pointed us to the right direction. We took the bus downtown and ended up in Cotton-On where we purchased some clothes for her. We then went to the supermarket, trying to stick to our mental shopping list without going over-budget.

And it was dinner time. She fried beehoon with “gong wans”, Taiwanese sausages and leafy vegetables. Internet, when we settled back with our gigantic plates of noodles in front of the TV, it was the first time we took more than an hour eating. She even went off halfway to take a poop before returning to eat. Which made me laughed. When she told me her mother would frown on her doing that, I laughed even harder. Yes, I thought that was adorable of her.

Oh, we had home-made mango pudding for dessert too. And it was my first time seeing her eat a mango. Just thinking about it now made me smile. Non-stop.

Sunday fun

The next morning, we were keen to try our hands at cooking breakfast. As it turned out, you can’t really fry hashbrowns, French toasts, baked beans and streaky bacon without incurring the wrath of the smoke detector. That made for an awkward 15 minutes of loud beeping in a very smoky kitchen and frantic calls to the concierge at 10am.

But when all the hoo-ha was over, it was the BEST breakfast WE had ever had. Sometimes I’d fantasise about eating it all over again during the days when I haven’t seen her in a while.

At 1.30pm, we were all set to head to the pool but we were unsure if we should bring towels or water down so we called concierge to check. Turned out we had to bring our own because a serviced apartment’s similarities to hotels can only be stretched this far.

It was a typical Sunday, with many kids splashing in the three pools. One even had a snorkel on even though the pool is 1.2-metre high. If you want to test your potential as an Olympic swimmer, there is a 60-metre lane for you to do just that.

We took 15 minutes to wade into the pool. The water was freeeeeeezing even in the day. When we finally made it into the pool, we swam under the cascading waterfall a couple of times. She thought it was fun. I was too busy keeping my nipples under control.

After a while, we tanned ourselves on outdoor deck chairs. The cheery vibe was infectious. One can really get used to this lifestyle.

An hour later, we went to the gym, which was one of the highlights of our stay. With everyone is out in the pool, it was a great experience having the gym to ourselves for an hour. It was also our first time exercising on the treadmill together. It was, as she said, “fun” even though I felt like I will never ever catch my breath again. It was adorable though to see her trying out all the weight machines one by one and leaving her sweaty thigh stains on the seats. She’d “humph” at me if she reads this.

We carried our aching sweaty bodies up to have a late lunch of pizzas. Ooh there was also some trouble with the washing machine. But it got fixed and she is great at doing laundry, just so you know while I am excellent at cleaning up and washing dishes.

We then baked blueberry muffins together. They turned out almost perfect – nice, soft and fluffy like all good muffins should. Although it was a little salty because we used salted butter to grease the baking tins, they tasted delicious. She did, however, said my body looked like the muffins, at which point, I rolled my eyes at her and pouted.

Dinner was really salty so the less said about it, the better. But I like that she kept praising the vegetables I cooked and how she loved salty dishes. That really made me happy even though I know she was inwardly dying of thirst! What a girl!

Of course, there was wine and ice cubes and more TV and some fun and games. But any more details, you’d have to clean your ears.

Monday morning

We were awake by 8.30am, eager to try out the buffet breakfast. Maybe we should have continued sleeping. When we walked into the dining lounge at 9am, it was already crowded with families and working professionals. The buffet had a limited spread with typical international fare like sausages, hardboiled eggs, salad, stale toasts, cereal and baked beans. Hardly sumptuous. The only saving grace was the coffee.

We found seats next to a friendly middle-aged Indonesian Chinese couple. The frequent travellers were chatty and the wife kept asking us about the various properties in the city. I like how friendly and sociable my girl was even though she was probably not keen on chatting. It made me love her even more.

By 10am, we were back at the apartment, thinking of cooking blueberry pancakes, noodles and kaya toasts for lunch. We spent time playing Words With Friends, watching Discovery Home, chilling out and generally enjoying the comfort of each other’s company until it was check-out time.

If we had to summarise the past few days of the urban weekend getaway, I’d say we complement each other very well in every possible way, from cooking, to cleaning, to shopping, to washing, to showering, to sleeping, to watching TV, to having fun, to exercising, to eating, to sleeping. Seriously, we are just too lovable together.

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Driving slow on Sunday afternoon

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Remember how I told you about the gorgeous sunset we saw last Sunday?

It was a warm day last week and thankfully, we spent most of our time in the cool air-conditioning the car has. The sun was setting when we were driving slowly along the expressway. As we drove closer to our destination, the buildings appeared to be chasing the sun and yet it looked like it was coming nearer to us. Cutting through the soft fluffy clouds, the sun rays cut across the skies into many golden facets with some of the light making our eyes squint.

We immediately turned to each other and said, “Let’s take a pic.”

And she took out her phone to snap a couple shots of the gorgeous sunset we have been privileged to see.

When she sent the picture of the sunset to me later that night, it was amazing how photos taken by the simple phone can look like something so beautiful you can only describe it as art.

The truth is we love sunrises and sunsets and all the times in between ever since we started talking to each other. They are like our special theme. Like if we had a party, we’d make everyone wear some form of sun-shaped costume or blindingly gold accessories.

Thank you for capturing the beautiful moment we had shared in time, my love.

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The colour of Monday

I was so annoyed with the people I work with today I scratched my neck in frustration. Now there are big red marks on my neck and they hurt. To think I still wonder why I am losing my hair in an alarming rate.

Seriously, I counted last night – I saw more than 10 strands among the suds when I was shampooing my hair and there were 11 strands of hair on the bathroom floor by the time I finished drying my hair. That is excluding the ones I found on the bedroom floor and on the bed. I know an average human being would shed around 50 to 100 strands of hair a day. But really, this is excessive for someone with short hair. So yes, my possible hair loss is worrying the crap out of me and I don’t know what to do. Yet.

And will someone please let me use their shower facilities? The water heater at my place broke and I have been forced to bathe with extremely cold water the past three days. Let’s put it in perspective. The water is so cold that even my pee is hotter than it so technically speaking, I’d rather bathe in my pee than the freezing water. Besides, wasn’t there research that said urine has antibacterial properties? No? Then you probably should not come near me until the heater gets fixed. Just saying.

Right now, I am eating a packed lunch that (I suspected was cooked by my sister and I think she should keep her full-time job) consists of macaroni, some mixed vegetables, hotdogs, cuttlefish balls and tomato pasta sauce.

This has been a tiring Monday morning and the end is not even in sight. There were plenty of times when I wanted to hit the table or scream out in anger because people were being stupid. And there are at least five more hours to go before I can officially leave the office.

So my mentor once told me that I have to be more tolerant and easy-going and not take things personally when things are going against me. He said the best thing I can do is to let go and smile and things will naturally look up. All I can say is he hasn’t seen the people I have to deal with for work.

So it’s lunchtime now and after I thought about what would be calming for me, I decided to blog about it. Blogging has therapeutic qualities for me in that I get to voice my frustrations out loud to you, Internet, without bothering anyone IRL. Also, solutions might soon emerge by themselves after all my ranting. (I hope.)

Usually, I’d feel better because I’d realise that things are not as bad as they sound and I have so many things to be grateful for so I tend to become a more pleasant human being after that. (Again, I hope at least it appears that way.)

So yes, reminding myself of the things I am grateful for is a philosophy I stand by because when I remember how good life has been / is treating me, I would immediately smile and the weight on my shoulders becomes lighter. Also, repeating the line “life is too short to waste my energy on stupid people” tends to help. HA.

Another thing that keeps me grounded to happiness is when I think of the awesome times we spent together. If we had any hilarious conversations or videos or photos of us doing silly things, I would be looking through the recent ones on my phone or email inbox, thinking about the next time we get to see each other again. Now that will definitely make me grin.

Writing about our adventures together is another great therapy for me. It not only helps me document our happy memories, it also inspires me to be the best I can be for us when I know we have so much more to look forward to.

Oh yes. Come on, I know you’re mostly here to read about our love story. Stop denying it. Ha!