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Labour of love

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On Labour Day, May 1, we headed out brimming with anticipation of the fun activities ahead. We had racked our brains so hard when we were planning what to do two days earlier. And we came up with a few suggestions but they were either too last-minute, no vacancy left or too time-consuming.

Our criteria were that the activities had to be in an air-conditioned area, not crowded and fun. She suggested knitting classes, baking and cooking while I thought a one-day hotel getaway would be fun. We could enjoy the clean amenities, sleep and feast our day away in a cool environment. But she wasn’t too keen on it. Then I hit upon a brainwave: we could go painting, have lunch and play games at a cafe, followed by dinner.

And so here’s the result of our labour after three hours of intense concentration. I painted Uncle Vincent’s Cafe Terrace at Night (pictured above) while she painted a popular Japanese character (below). And they are damn good replicas of the real pieces if I may say so myself. Ha!

While she said my painting was too abstract for her liking, I thought it’d look really great on the wall of my future house. Heh.

Anyway, I really really like her artwork. The little girl reminded me of a younger her with two little plaits and the pouting posture. I love how she painted her eyes too. Big, round and so full of emotions like a pretty anime character. (Also because she listened to my suggestion to put some white in her eyes, hehehe!)

Best of all, she has this secretive and almost cheeky smile that makes her look so adorable that I wanted to grab her face IRL and give her Boon Tiong kisses all over. You tell me, how to resist a face like that?

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Spooning you

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Really. There is nothing else I rather do more. You?

One of the most awesome things in life is spooning you to sleep. With our bodies curled and fitted perfectly together like two pieces of jigsaw puzzle. With my arm tucked around you; holding you close, protecting you from the cold of the night, letting you feel safe in my arms.

Wrapping your warm body from behind; inhaling the sweet smell of your hair, feeling your every breath rise and fall, listening to your soft snores. And sometimes rearranging the blanket so we have an equal share.

Having our legs entwined, snuggling even closer to you and feeling content with life.

That’s how awesome spooning you feels.

[Via Cardboard Love]

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I woke up wanting to kiss you

I do. I really do. Do you?

Your soft pink lips. I miss them. With you I want to live. In between your heart and soul, I rest with you.

I wake up with a longing to feel you in my arms. Every day.

*The above is an artwork by British artist Tracey Emin in 2010. It was featured at an exhibition by neonist Kerry Ryan and artist Declan McMullan, curators and producers of 80 + Artists 100 + hours. Emin has been one of my favourite Brit artists ( Sarah Lucas, Damien Hirst, Gilbert & George are my other favourites if you’re keen to know) ever since I saw her work Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, a tent appliquéd with names, and My Bed — an installation of her own unmade dirty bed.

I met Emin once at a book signing for Strangeland (2005), her long-awaited memoir, and she was a bit snarky and intimidating to talk to. It was as though she was in a rush and had somewhere else better to be. I felt cowed and still do whenever I think of the moment I asked her to sign my copy. I still have the book neatly stacked in between my Terry Pratchett novels. But I have always thought she was an extremely intelligent, thoughtful person when I started reading her columns in Independent in 2005. So I guess I am pleased to have met Emin at least once in my life. She inspires me to appreciate art installations more.

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Sunset boulevard

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Yesterday evening, I stepped out of my house, deeply immersed in choosing the next song on my playlist, just like any regular day. As I walked along the pathway towards the direction of my destination, I looked up and what I saw made me paused. The sky was covered with a pink glossy hue with streaks of blue and speckles of gold.

From where I stood, the view (pictured above) was breathtaking. And I spent the next few minutes, thinking how fortunate I was to be there at the right time to appreciate the beauty.

It also made me realised it was the first time in a long while that I finally saw a sunset again. I have been so busy lately with work and school that I haven’t taken time out to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

Perhaps this was the universe’s way of reminding me to stop more often (and take a picture of the sunset and blog about it). As I spent the next few quiet moments walking on, I caught myself smiling.

It had been a good day. I made someone’s day because I surprised her with a little gift sent via snail mail. When she emailed and texted me to thank and tell me how happy she was, I kept grinning non-stop. Cheering someone up really does make you happy as well.

When I met up with my mates at our regular haunt later that night, it was a friend’s birthday and it was amazing how spontaneous how everyone was. When the cake arrived, we started clapping boisterously and singing “Happy Birthday” really REALLY LOUDLY and out of tune with one another. At a crowded cafe. Where there were living people present.

And we repeated that not once or twice but FIVE frigging times. Yes, we sang “Happy Birthday” six times in different languages. Someone even played the tune on a virtual piano on his iPad. The birthday girl sang along despite having so much difficulty trying not to faint from embarrassment. Another friend performed a solo in such a dramatic fashion (thrice) that we couldn’t from shaking from laughter.

And we kept laughing and laughing and laughing. I nearly keeled over from laughing so much. It was such an enjoyable night out that we went home later than expected and yet it was all worth it.

As I walked home that night, I couldn’t stop smiling. It had been such a great day.

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Sunday secret

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So Sundays are usually the day where PostSecret posts its weekly list of homemade postcards on which people from all over the world would write and mail in their secrets anonymously.

Today is a Sunday and I too have a secret of my own.

Twenty-six days ago, 16 August 2011, I made a postcard for someone. It was meant to be a birthday surprise. I didn’t know if it would even be picked or if it qualifies as a secret for the website but I thought if it got published, it would make her day because she is a regular reader of PostSecret. Then again, she might not have known it was for her!

Anyway I went to print out a picture that had significance to us, created a tv set out of a cardboard, and wrote a cheesy message (which I shall not reveal here) at the back of the postcard to Frank.

The next morning, I was the first person outside the post office waiting for the staff to open its shutters.

When I got to the counter, I realised I had to send the mail by express courier if I want the letter to arrive by 21 August. I handed over $40 willingly, because getting the postcard to PostSecret before that Sunday had meant a lot to me.

Once the envelope was stamped and ready to be delivered, I half-ran and half-skipped out of the post office breathlessly. By the time I reached the bus stop, my heart was beating really fast, my face was flushed red and yet, I was grinning.

I was smiling the whole time I sat in the bus, so excited I was to have done something I have never done for anyone before. I even emailed to PostSecret about how I had felt – doing something that no one knew. The future was filled with unlimited possibilities.

And every day, I’d check the delivery schedule, wondering, wishing and hoping if the postcard will make it on time.

Then Sunday came around. I woke up excitedly, holding my breath as I waited for the webpage to load. I scrolled all the way down and the postcard was not among them. Unfortunately, Hurricane Irene had other plans.

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In the same week, many cities that laid in the path of Irene lost their power, electricity, and were in a pitch-black state. The package was delayed. No one was around to sign for it when it was delivered. When it was finally collected, it was two days past Sunday.

So I waited. Another Sunday came around. And another Sunday. Today marks the fourth Sunday. I just checked PostSecret and I think the postcard might have missed the cut. It must have been too bold, too romantic and too open a display of love to be counted as a secret. Ha! If I were you, I’d fall in love with me.

So here it is, here is my secret on Sunday, on a date where it has so much significance around the world but none more so than here.

“Tonight the sky will blaze
with stars. Today, my love,
rooms bloom with flowers.”
– Clare Shaw

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Macbeth under the stars

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The witches awaiting Macbeth’s arrival

Happy Labour Day weekend, y’all!

What a great weekend to be out and about having the time of my life, smug in the knowledge I have an extra day to rest today! (I’m also smug because I woke up with a good bowl hair day this morning. I am not washing my hair today!)

Yesterday, I watched my first Shakespearean play outdoors under the stars and urban fog. (There were no stars but you get my drift.)

We brought food, drinks, games and picnic mats. We also started queuing one hour before the play was supposed to start. Luckily, I had competitive friends who were determined to secure the best view possible. There were hundreds of people behind us by the time we were fanning ourselves with the programme notes.

When the gates opened, two of them surged ahead to reserve the best “seats” while three of us walked as fast as we could behind. We laid down our mats on the lawn, spread our food out and started eating. We celebrated a friend’s birthday and took pictures. There were crispy seaweed, gigantic orange Chee-tos, Lays crisps and Subway sandwiches. Two more friends arrived, bringing homemade brownies, and more even more snacks.

The evening air was warm but the companionship was enjoyable. I am so glad I decided to join them.

We played Taboo (a game I am surprisingly ok at if there are no crazy participants giving me extra pressure). Another two friends arrived just minutes before the show. They brought sushi. I wish I thought of that.

There were definitely people extremely well-versed in outdoor picnics. I spent my time taking mental notes on what to bring for my next romantic picnic.

Some had lovely picnic baskets to store their food and ice coolers for their drinks. Soft velvety mats that had a waterproof base were the best because you can easily clean the wet grass off later and still sit in comfort. Wine glass holders were useful if you want to drink champagne or white wine.

Strong cutlery, paper napkins, plastic cups and bowls were very useful. Wet wipes, trash bag and fans (electric/paper) were another must. Food should be stored in plastic tupperware and aluminium foil. Some brought candles for extra light. I think a torchlight might suffice. I thought of bringing Tiger Balm and insect repellent but my mate had a even better solution. She had an iPhone app which wards off mosquitoes. I’m so downloading it the next time we have a picnic or go to the park. The two huge bites on my legs are still itching from the day we went to botanic gardens.

And if your butt gets as sore as mine after three hours on an uneven grass patch, remember to bring cushions. Big fluffy pillows were good to bring along to lean on during the show. Some people looked so comfortable lying on their pillows, I wouldn’t be surprised they fell asleep.

And smoke billowed out of the stage. A hush descended on the audience. The play was starting.

I studied Macbeth in school and to see it brought to life in a traditional context mixed with modern elements was fascinating.

The plot, script and dialogue were true to Shakespeare’s original story. I found myself having to mentally translate sentences into modern English. Shakespearean English is long-winded and really, the innuendoes used are aplenty to confuse thee.

To be close enough to the stage where I could see the actors’ spit and perspiration was hilarious. The sound effects were deafening (maybe I was too close to the speakers). The costumes and props were amusingly modern.

The witches were my favourite bit. They were eerily good and absorbed in their role. I snapped a few photos and they looked creepy now. But I really expected the cauldron to be round, not rectangular.

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Fire burn and rectangular cauldron bubble

The prop used for the finale was also kind of lame. There was a little textual twist to certain parts of the story that you might wonder about. (Thankfully, the director addressed them in the Q&A later.) Still, I was riveted to every scene, trying to absorb as much poetic dialogue as I can. I only moved occasionally to stretch my legs so I won’t end up with excruciating pins and needles. But my sore butt was never the same after three hours. It is still aching as I typed this.

But really, for a first-timer to a Shakespearean play under the stars, it was an awesome new experience! And I always love trying new things. I can’t wait for the next one in July.

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Colours are the reflection of the soul

So said costumier Christian Lacroix who drew his inspiration from Philippe de Champaigne’s and Poussin’s paintings when tasked to design costumes for dramatic Greek tragedy Phèdre.

When wikipedia describes Phèdre‘s tragic construction, deeply observed characters and the richness of the verse as “masterly” and French philosopher Voltaire calling it “the masterpiece of the human mind”, you know it’s gonna blow your mind.

Here’s a little preview of the opera’s background:

la fille de Minos et de Pasiphaé

la fille de Minos et de Pasiphaé

The really haute costumes by Lacroix:

Ooh la la

Ooh la la

In other news, I just attended my first kickboxing class today. Considering that I’m a proud exercise-free advocate, this IS a big deal for me. My arms are numb and getting myself around to meetings tomorrow would be a challenge.