Love Like Hot Chocolate

I must be the luckiest intern in the world because the hot chocolate that happens to be a staple in the office pantry tastes like a vacation in Europe (not that I would know since I’ve never been there). It dispenses from a futuristic coffee machine that sits beside the sink, with possibly a hundred different buttons and a million variations of coffee to suit the needs of the fickle. It’s a pretty noisy machine, because when you finally find the right button to press (the one that says “Hot Chocolate”), it makes a horrific rumble and terrifying roar before a deep dark liquid pours out below.

It’s a very intense thing. Drinking hot chocolate. It smells like heaven and it looks like heaven…but it’s burning like hell. You can’t resist it though, because although you know it’ll scald your tongue and make you blister, you cannot resist a taste. Just a small sip. But the moment it touches your tongue, there’s no going back.

What does it taste like? A million different pralines melted and mixed with only the milkiest milk in the world (Milkiest milk…like sweetest sweets and saltiest salt). It’s bloody hot, but at that moment, you don’t even care. All you want is to taste the creamy sweet taste on your tongue and the smooth silk down your throat. There’s nothing like it really. Quality hot chocolate is like a pool of warmth, happiness and joy—it’s divine.

But wait a minute. After the third, or maybe the fourth gulp, you realize that the fifth tastes a little different from the rest. Perhaps the chocolate has cooled too quick in the stale office air. Perhaps it’s been tainted. Oxidised? There’s something a little off about this mouth and you cannot really tell why. You risk another sip, eager to know if it’ll taste the same. There’s a little too much chocolate at the end, you can see it clinging to the cup and marring the taste. You look at the cup in scorn and in disdain. There’s no way you’re drinking this last mouth, so you tip the cup and empty its contents into the pantry sink, the dark brown liquid staining everything in it’s way.

There’s no love like hot chocolate. Love me like hot chocolate?

The Right English?

You can write every day, but still miss writing. You can struggle to put thoughts into words, but still want to do it anyway. That’s me now, struggling writer, mentally blocked, physically dormant.

Throughout my years in university, I’ve changed aspirations countless times. In the beginning, without passion, it was lawyer. Then, when that unrequited love ceased it’s non-existent fire, the thought of wanting to be a writer exploded in my head and slowly seeped out through the tips of my fingers. It brought me to places. Magazines, restaurants, fashion boutiques. But when that flame sizzled, I hopped from one plausible profession to another: PR representative, advert copywriter. software developer, content strategist.

Learning is a dangerous thing. The more you learn, the more you realise you need to learn. School opened my eyes up to the things I could achieve, and the people I could be (which is also why I’m having an existential crisis now). Work made me understand that even if you know for sure that there are some things you’’ll never want to be, you will sometimes be pushed into nooks and crannies that require you to try everything. I guess that’s why people change jobs all the time and find the courage to fill in shoes they’ve never walked in before. Everybody learns, all the time. It’s pretty scary at first, but soon enough, everything will fall back into the monotonous hum-drum that we will too soon get used to. 

The company I’m working at is (technically) a US company based in Singapore, with a mainly US customer base, which is also why I’ve been forced to write in US english despite having been taught that the it was always s, not z, my entire life.  Now, I feel the pain. English spelling is very different from American spelling. I used to think that it’s just a few Zs replacing Ss here and there, but sometimes it’s also the lack of alphabets and sometimes, it’s me losing my sanity. 

Also, today, I realised I want to be your friend again. To be okay with stealing your handwriting, your ideas, without being sued for plagiarism. So, as the determined, stubborn and extremely fickle human bean that I am, I will worm my way back into your heart. Even if it means wrapping my fists round barbed wires while I’m at it. Funny how I’m the one trying to take down the wall I was hell bent on building just a few years back.

Oh, I still don’t know what I want to be in the future. I kinda feel like a 5 year old again. I guess that’s what working does to you. It pulls you away from reality (because reality stinks, and you want to escape it) and you’ll slowly find yourself falling through the clouds and the stars again. You will slowly begin to remember that you can actually be anything you dream of. 

Good Things

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I feel obliged to post something because I usually write something when I draw. But the words are not coming and somehow it might be a better idea to leave these Ginko leave here untainted.

Big things are coming and I’m not sure if I’m ready to share it with the world. Fingers crossed and hopes are held high — maybe with a stroke of luck, everything will be alright.

Thunderstorms

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I have a habit of listening to music at deafening volumes in complete darkness whenever there’s a heaviness in my heart that I can’t seem to comprehend. When I developed this habit I don’t know. I don’t even know if it makes me feel better because twenty minutes into this and I still feel suffocated by the still night air.  

Storms are supposed to make the sky look darker, like a foreshadowing of ominous thoughts or baleful wishes. Yet tonight, the night sky is unnaturally lit by what seems like an impending torrent of rain. It’s funny how when you eliminate the potential threat of deafening thunder roars, streaks of lightning actually seem easier to appreciate. They illuminate the darkness in a brilliant yet almost artificial manner and in that fraction of a second they burst into light, everything is crystal clear.

If you were here, perhaps I would have righteously proclaimed the storm as “cuddle weather”. But since you’re not, and the weight of the night has proven too much to bear alone, I’ll resign to doing what I do best — escape. When the world is bent on sending torrential downpours your way, the last thing you want to do is to fight it. When the universe is hell bent on making you break, maybe the easiest way to emerge unscathed is to hide somewhere they can’t find you. That, I can do.

Growing Up

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Been working on my e-mail signature, resume and LinkedIn profile for the past tens of hours and I’ve reached one conclusion — growing up is difficult. Also, LinkedIn is like a sinister version of Facebook where every move you make is scrutinised by potential co-workers, bosses or competitors. It makes uploading a profile picture one of the most stressful things I’ve done this week and that’s perhaps the reason behind why the summary of my life still remains an empty space on that page.

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There are tests to sit for and exams to take, but somehow I’ve been learning to take things easier these days after that particularly hectic September — and my first step is to take my time when it comes to replying work emails. I believe that things will fall into place, if not today, maybe tomorrow.

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Surrender

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There are days where you feel invincible, days where you feel as if the mere tipping of your toes will hoist you high enough to pick a star out from the night sky. These days, everything you do is adequate. Even the mere act of breathing makes you revel in the fact that there’s so much you can do, will do and have already done that you will one day compile into a heaping list that’ll give meaning to your existence. Days like this, you wish will never end.

Then there are days where you feel like a sail boat on windless sea. Days where hours spent relentlessly working amount to nothing, like scribbling with white ink on white sheets, like dusting cupboards during dry storms. Days where you try so hard but get no where. Days where light blinds and darkness suffocates.

Sadly, today is one of those.

I don’t have pearls of wisdom or words of comfort because most of us have these days that nothing can turn around. Reassurance stings like swabs on wounds and advice falls like bitterness at the back of tongues. Bad days remain bad despite all the good in the world.

But it’s alright, because like everything else, days too shall pass. Good ones, bad ones, they’ll all fall into the valley where we’ll forget to pull them out for scrutiny so even when we look back, we look pass them, through them, away from them as if they never even happened.

So just hold on tight and keep your knees a little too close to your chest for comfort. Let this bad day reign over you, will it away and celebrate its passing. Oh, and admit defeat. The earlier you surrender, the less it hurts.

Image credits: Daniel

Patience

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After surviving the busiest September of my existence, my body has decided to collapse upon itself like a flimsy scaffolding after an episode of particularly harsh rain. The month has been filled with endless nights spent fulfilling my commitments to both work and school, with a little bit of personal fluff vying for my attention. In just September alone, I’ve conquered 4 quizzes, 3 assignments, 5 writing jobs and a wisdom tooth operation. Oh, and my brother got married.

It’s actually astonishing when you actualise your potential and realise how much you can achieve in the shortest amount of time. I feel euphoric, almost arrogant when I look back and it hits me that I’ve done more than I could ever have. It makes me want to leave everything behind (sleep especially) and sprint towards the finish line so I can feel the adrenaline of being suffocated under stress and the mental applause that rings in my ear.

Yet while the sense of accomplishment and the confidence boost still courses within my veins, I wouldn’t do it again. It’s one thing knowing how much you can achieve when you push yourself beyond your limits and actually doing that every single day. Now that I know, I look back and pat myself on the back almost parent-like, appreciating the determination and tireless nights. But wanting a repeat performance of that? I think that’ll take awhile.

My mother is most annoyed with me when I come home triumphantly waving a 75 mark test paper in the air, carrying it as though it’s a plaque of honour. I’m always contented with being moderate. I wear a smile on my face and a badge of gratification upon my chest whenever I feel as though I’ve done well enough. Not amazing, but well enough. Yet to many, enough translates into a state of perfection they can never reach.

Patience is a virtue. Life is short, but it gets shorter when you’re too caught up with achieving a level of productivity society does not appreciate. We will never be fast enough nor good enough to meet the standards of everyone. So since we won’t be achieving perfection any time soon, why not slow down a little and take things in our stride? We’ll get to being enough one day, but this journey isn’t a race so take your time to enjoy the road. It makes finding the best of you a little more interesting and a whole lot easier.

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P.S: I am trying to create a page where I can share images unabashedly with you guys, but I’m still working on it. It’ll be up soon!

The Day I Went to a Cafe

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I never liked cafes. It makes me uncomfortable in a way that I can never fully comprehend, almost like being trapped in a glass chamber under heavy observation. I think it has something to do with the rise of indie culture and how people in cafes are always dressed in an artificially laid-back manner that sets my skin on fire. Intentionally comfortable dressing that looks comfortable but actually isn’t. I don’t like the indie culture very much.

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Yet on a rainy afternoon, amongst hectic schedules and intense editorial meetings, I found myself walking into Loysel’s Toy, looking for something I wasn’t sure if I was going to find. But my shoes were wet, and my shoulders heavy. For once, the scent of fresh brew and the clinking of cutlery seemed inviting.

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What was I trying to look for? I don’t really know. Perhaps it’s the budding of first loves or the reconciliation of lost ones? The serenity on the faces of coffee drinkers? Or the fluster and frenzy of the servers hurriedly pulsing black liquid into the bellies of white mugs? What do you look out for when you’re sitting upon wooden chairs and eating upon wooden tables? What captures your attention and gives you a reason to stay? The food wasn’t sublime, it never is and never will be. But yet there’s a strange attraction that cafes have that keeps the seats filled and the coffee cups empty.

I don’t like cafes, but I keep going back, only to be left more confused every time.

I don’t like cafes, but I do?

I Will Be Great

giraffe The other day we were at Starbucks, you picked up a magazine and leafed through it absentmindedly, periodically stopping to take a sip out of the Hojicha Latte set upon the table, equidistance from you and me. When the swishing of pages paused for a little too long, I barely noticed, until I felt the uneasiness of your eyes boring holes through the book I was holding.

“Is this your article? Oh my god, it’s your name! In a legit magazine. In Starbucks!”

“Yeap, that’s me.” I quipped before snatching it over to snap a photo for my mother who’s still hung up over my drop out from Law School. “What is that.” She cooly replied.

I want to be big in the industry. Big, as in you’ll be saying my name in hushed whispers big. Big, as in you’ll be envious of my life spent living aflutter and be jealous enough to leave spiteful comments on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Big, as in big enough to pick up a random magazine on the news stands and either find my name in the mast head or as reference in a feature.

The sad news is? I’m still frightened. Frightened of the gargantuan figures in the industry, of the interviews I have to attend and the small talk I have to make. I am inferior of the way I talk, the way I laugh and the way I hold my wine goblet when a toast is proposed. I hide behind my laptop, behind the false sense of security it provides me, pushing out words I carefully compose and artfully string into a melody.

The sad news is? I’m not there yet. Not near, nowhere close. But it’s okay, because sometimes it’s fear that sets the heart ablaze and lights up the long winding road ahead. And I’m alright with that.

Some day, I will be great.

Chronicles of a Kitty Seeking Fanatic

imageThe title contains a factual error, because I do not seek a mouthless kitty that looks as though it’s been electrocuted and neither am I a kitty fan. However, having a title that reads “Chronicles of a kitty seeking fanatic’s disinterested +1” might seem a bit of a mouthful so I decided to settle on the erroneous title anyway.

I will attempt to chronicle my experience in queueing up for the limited edition “Singing Bones” Hello Kitty available at all McDonald’s outlets starting 12am (if it happens to be 24/7) this Thursday morning.

1115pm: Decided that since we’re stuck doing nothing and inspiration is not coming, perhaps a site survey of nearby McDonald’s might sound like a good idea. Especially since my brother made a pact to collect the entire set of Hello Kitties for his fiancé.

1120pm: Even before reaching the traffic light that’s closest to the McDees located at the Pasir Ris Sport’s Complex, cars with hazard lights on have already lined up till the bus stop opposite Downtown East. Why? They’re queuing at the drive through to get their kitty. Brilliant move, waste of petrol.

1130pm: Parked the car and decided to try our luck at the physical store anyway. Realised it looks like the entrance to a concert at the Indoor Stadium. We were told coupons have already been given out, and that if you would like to wait (in the hopes that someone would buy less than the limit of 4 kitties), feel free to do so. We left.

1136pm: Picked a friend who wanted to join us, headed over to (outlet name concealed so nobody will know who we got kitty from), convinced that because it is inaccessible and has no residential areas nearby, we stand a chance.

1138pm: Queues look longer than when freebies are being given out. Thankful for the relatively cool weather.

1140pm: Coupons given out! Crowd seems to be dispersing and disappointed faces whip out their phones to capture a sign that states “Hello Kitty sold out” — we’re assuming it’s a form of proof to angry girlfriends, and for boyfriends to proof their sincerity. We didn’t get a coupon. But managed to secure a spot as the first people to get a non-couponed kitty while everyone was snapping photos and heading home. Score.

1145pm: The wait is boring, we make small talk with others in the queue with us. Senior couple behind us hopes to buy 4 kitties for their daughters. Cute.

12am: Release the kitty! Queue isn’t moving, all I want is my Mcspicy really.

1230am: People are carrying bags and bags of kitties, will you guys sell them?

1235am: Just for fun, whipped out my iPad and scribbled “WTB @ $25”. Proceeded to put said iPad on my head and wait for offers. No offers, just weird looks. Consider STOMPing myself to get a $50 remuneration.

1245am: Transaction spotted! Old uncle selling kitties for $50! Supposedly a fair price since he queued for 3 hours. Too free?

115am: We’re near the end. The situation is tense. Wait, did someone say no more kitties? What about those with a coupon? I hear someone’s voice breaking. She’s crying. Over a mouthless kitty. Lord help humanity.

117am: “We’re sorry no more kitties, only those with coupons have kitties. 7 coupons? Last 7 kitties left.” We wait patiently. Meals are dispensed without kitties (hallelujah McSpicy!), but hold on a minute. Didn’t you say no more kitties? Where did that one come from? Don’t think you put in paper bag we don’t know ok!

130am: Request to chat with the manager after I am settled with my McSpicy — I honestly just wanna know what he thinks of this horrific kitty queueing frenzy and the magic behind conjuring up kitties when they supposedly have none left.

135am: Manager has great service attitude. I think he should switch jobs and become a PR instead. I’m impressed! He asked if we really wanted a kitty, but desperate woman sitting next to us screams ” IF THEY GET IT I WANT ONE TOO!”. We reject politely, saying that if we get a kitty now, we’d be starting a war. I’m happy with my Mcspicy anyway.

145am: Everyone says we should get the kitty from the manager. I buy Mcwings and proceed to whisper in the manager’s ear while pulling serviettes out from the brown box “If there are extra kittes, you know where I am.” I think I may have sounded too breathy. Manager says ok.

230am: We’re done with the food. Manager is missing. We insist on collecting our kitty when the lady next to us leaves (in case she reports us for coercing the manager into giving us a kitty.)

235am: I head to the counter unabashedly. “Your manager said he will give us a kitty when the rest of the people leave. Can I have the kitty now?” Manager is taking a smoke break, staff heads out to find him.

240am: SCORE, we get one kitty for $4.60. It looks ugly. Even the box is black. We carry it back with us in a paper bag.

3am: I am back to work, inspiration finds me. I wonder if the kitty blesses me. Nah, I think it’s the nuggets and fries that’s fuelling my brain cells.

330am: Brother texts to say the sister-in-law is at Funan queuing up for kitties. They only open at 7am. Insanity takes human form in girls who have a kitty obsession.

2pm: Receive text from school musical committee saying we should sell kitties for 90k to raise funds for our musical. Realise kitties are being sold at $1000 now.

230pm: I lose faith in humanity.