Foodnotes, The organised chaos

28

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So I turned 28 a couple of weeks ago. Unlike other years when I looked forward to my birthday because it meant I could be a princess for a day, this year was slightly more special: we were getting the keys to our east end on the very same day.

My birthday started off very nicely indeed, with Man U routing Chelski 3-0 at a game that started five minutes to midnight. I was expecting a tense game but when the goals started pouring in, Skunk and I started whooping (our respective partners do not share the same level of enthusiasm for the team, it appears).

After a late night, Mr Thick and I had to get up at 7:30am to collect the keys to our new home (that warrants another post). I had my hopes up, thinking that we were going to have a cosy double birthday celebration in the house, just me and him. Unfortunately, his parents had other ideas. My mother-in-law wanted us to formally enter the house on an auspicious day and my father-in-law would be coming along with us to do the proper rites. Oh well. The good news was, the auspicious date was the next day and we didn’t have to wait too long. But for a brief moment, we hung around outside our unit feeling extremely aggrieved that we (okay, I) couldn’t go in.

After a long nap in the afternoon, we prepared to go out for dinner. Which was a surprise! The only clue he gave me was that there was going to be lots of meat. Hmm. I did wonder if we were celebrating his birthday or mine but luckily for him, I do love my beef.

It turned out that we were going to The Prime Society. Yums. I enjoyed the beef but I wasn’t too impressed. My medium was a tad overcooked in certain areas and the meat’s flavour was not brought out sufficiently. His wagyu, on the other hand, lacked the melt-in-your-mouth texture. I definitely have had better beef at Aston’s and Angus House. We ended the night early because we are boring married old fogies – no partying or crazy boozing for us these days, and no surprise party. Boo. I do suspect that when we finally move into east end, we will not venture out during weekends, our hefty bums chained to the sofa.

How do I feel, now that I am definitely at the wrong end of my 20s? Strangely enough, at peace. After last year’s unfortunate events, I certainly feel as if I have grown tremendously. I am a stronger, if not better, person now and I like myself more. This year, I vow to have more confidence in myself and to always believe in positivity. Wisdom and maturity from growing up? Perhaps. I think I am definitely looking to being in my 30s.

Bring it on!

More pictures here.

Arts & Entertainment, Everything Else

Entering Twilight

This is going to do nothing for my street cred but I have to be honest: I took a deep breath yesterday afternoon and plunged into Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.

Go on, launch those brickbats at me. I had sworn not to read the book but somehow, when Beks left it lying carelessly on her desk, I decided to just borrow it to see what the big deal about the book was. With the pocket of time that I had between appointments, I parked myself on a comfortable armchair at Bakerzin and started reading, a pot of tea lying within reach.

It was horrible. The writing was simplistic and incredibly banal. Do I really need to know the details of what Bella was eating or cooking or wearing? The conversations were mindlessly protracted. The romance of Bella and Edward was abrupt, the explanations carelessly given. There was not much suspense or climax built into it – the structure of the plot was not laid out properly. Meyer makes J K Rowling look like Jane Austen and I worship Jane Austen.

A quarter into the book, I texted Beks: “Reading Twilight makes me feel like I am reading someone’s badly written blog.” But she was right, as irritatingly trivial as it was, I couldn’t put it down.

Maybe it’s that romantic in me. If I were 10 years younger, I would probably have swooned and longed for a vampire lover like Edward Cullen. And why not? He’s depicted as a perfect angel, and gentlemanly and chivalrous to boot. He saves her life (not once, not twice but thrice), plays the piano like a pro, writes romantic music and even opens the car door for her. Even his vegetarian vampirism works in his favour since he finds his lady love so oddly and enticingly attractive but has the willpower to stop himself. And though he has been single for almost a century, he still knows how to say and do the right things to make her heartbeat jump to manical levels.

In short, he is the perfect man that every idealistic girl dreams of.

The premise of the series is interesting and I think it’s great that Meyer dared to step out of stereotypical lines to create a new generation of vampires, mocking traditional beliefs at the same time. But her execution needs a hell lot of work and under the care of a more talented writer, the story may just be more engaging.

Poor Mr Thick went to catch the movie with me last month and though he survived to tell his tale, he has sworn to never watch its sequel. Pity, because I think director Catherine Hardwick actually did a fantastic job bringing the two cardboard characters to semi-life. The blue/grey-drenched visuals brought the dreary rainy Forks town to life and Kristen Stewart was great at portraying the gawky, ill-at-ease Bella (no comments about Robert Pattison’s acting).

I may just buy the rest of the books but that would seriously damage my street cred. I mean, I was almost embarrassed to be reading it in the train. To salvage that, I leave you now with my favouritest scene from the movie: the baseball scene, accommpanied by a great song. Dark, edgy and adrenaline-pumping, just the way I like my vampires.

Everything Else

Hello, change

He is not a Singaporean. He is not of the same race or religion as I am. And yet, his inauguration is keenly watched by so many Singaporeans, as seen from the multiple Facebook status updates from CNN.com Live.

After that euphoric win, Barack Obama is finally taking his place among history as he is officially sworn in as the 44th president of the United States of America. Why, then, is this something so eagerly anticipated by Singaporeans, who are often criticized as being apathetic towards politics?

Maybe it’s because this inauguration truly brings about a sense of hope and optimism in everyone around the world. What’s more in Singapore, where the political scene is more often than not predictable and tightly controlled, a change in the winds (for the better) is not something we are used to. It’s not too difficult to be swept away in the excitement that accompanies President Obama.

The ever sardonic Maureen Dowd did not mince her words in her op-ed for the New York Times, “One seems small and inconsequential, even though he keeps insisting he’s not; the other grows large and impressive, filling Americans with cockeyed hope even as he warns them not to expect too much too soon.” It’s true, although he fills even the most apathetic of Singaporeans with hope, it’s important to remember that he is only one man and he can only do so much to bolster the ailing economy that he has inherited from that gunslinging buffoon who ruled America for eight long years.

But the goosebumps on my arms are standing and there are tears in my eyes, and it’s a good thing. Because I have never felt this way when watching my MPs or prime minister or president take office.

The organised chaos

Ah. Ee.

How would you feel after interviewing a young woman whose husband not only physically abused her but also committed adultery when she was heavily pregnant with their second child? Stories like these pain and drain me. I have so much to say about that but my eyelids are threatening to clamp down over my eyes.

But otherwise, it’s all good. One of my mottos for this year is to stay positive and optimistic, and it’s been working out so far. Despite the crazy workload, I’ve been coping pretty well (minus the “ohmigawdineedtofinishmywork” waking up shock at 4.30am). I’m anticipating the birthday because it’s also the day we get the keys to our east end so we can finally start married life proper. I’ve bought heavily discounted tickets to watch The Ting Tings live next week (thanks to Pinkbee!) and I can’t wait to dance to Great DJ.

It’s going to be a rocking year, recession be damned.

Imagine all the girls,
Ah ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah.
And the boys,
Ah ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah.
And the strings,
Eee, eee, eee, eee, eee, eee, eee, eee.
And the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums.

(PS: Go catch the music video here. It’s zany!)

Werk

It’s not you, it’s me

Despite the change in title at work, I am suddenly left with the epiphany that no, this is not the right job for me at all. I love magazines, I love flipping through their glossy pages, I love looking at the wonderful art direction of the pictures. But somehow, I am not enamoured of the magazines produced by my company nor do I enjoy what really goes on behind the scenes of these so-called glamourous rags.

I dislike the hierarchical chain of rule that’s practised and encouraged here. I hate the businesslike and cold approach we take to the magazines. I hate how I have to schedule my leave according to the magazine’s timeline. I hate how taking leave and public holidays have become such dreaded events because it means my work will pile up to astronomical heights. I don’t understand how my superiors can say things like, “Do you really need to take leave for two days? I’m worried about the deadline” when it’s my first day joining the team and they have already assigned me three feature stories to be completed in a week. It’s obvious that in times of recession, they will cut down on expenses like freelancers, which means that the employees will have a heavier workload.

I came in, a year ago, feeling optimistic and overjoyed that my dream job was a reality. To write! For a magazine! Yay! But I soon realise quickly that this is nothing more than a factory churning out pictures, words and pages at chop chop speed. What’s more, everything has to be new! Refreshing! Surprising! Unpredictable!

Perhaps, to sum it up succinctly, I lack the passion to stay in the company. I don’t love beauty products enough to wax lyrical about the newest long lasting lipsticks for many moons. My love for fashion goes the way of Nylon and Frankie, not Louis Vuitton or Fendi. I like irreverence, self-deprecation, emotional connection and cheekiness in my writing, none of which is really found in these rags. And I have absolutely no desire, wish or ambition to become anything more than a writer, having seen how much an editor can change and has to sacrifice. (I also do not have the patience to stay for years, hoping to be promoted.)

What’s more, I don’t take my company’s magazines seriously because I know that most of the content is driven by advertising dollars anyway. And while fashion and beauty are great institutions, when the world comes to an end, I am not likely to go, “Oh damn, I wished I have that Chanel 2.55 purse to bring to the grave with me.”

So where does that leave me? I don’t know. I don’t have to be a professional writer to write, I can still earn a (better-paid) living elsewhere and still write on the side. All I want is to have a better work-life balance where I can take days off and chill without feeling pressured by what I will face when I return. A life where I can go to the gym after the work or go home and cook for my little family of two.

A life where I can, ultimately, stay at home and watch my children grow up without missing out on their key moments.

Little Miss Shopaholic

In with the new!

After spending my pennies in Bangkok and buying the Matriarch a luxe leather Coach wallet for Christmas/New Year/birthday/whatever festival in 2009, I am now more careful with my moolah. We are facing a recession afterall and I hereby resolve to cut down on my spending, note down my expenditure everyday and save more so that I can properly furnish east end.

But. I have been eyeing these Charles & Keith heels for a while now and they are currently going at a 30 percent discount. They had my size, I was in the mood and the rest, as they say, is history.

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The socks, on the other hand, are something that I have been searching for the longest time. I have looked high and low for them, only to find them lying at the bottom of the sale bin at, of all places, Mango. Unfortunately, the ones I saw had nasty runs all over and it took three Mango outlets before I found the perfect ones in the Ngee Ann City outlet for $5 a pair (got them in black as well).

Now, I’ve never really been trendy or particularly creative and I was thinking of ways to wear these socks without looking like a Lolita wannabe (not that anyone would think that I am young, not with those wrinkles). The blue necklace was a stroke of genius at the last minute: I thought the outfit needed a pop of colour and tah dah!

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And then I got bored and decided to play with textures (just ignore the midsection, I’ve got eff-ing water retention!). I like how the opaque and sheer play up against each other. And I just love the satin bow tie I got from Shanghai’s textile market. Best $2 (?!) I have spent!

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Then I saw the cute plaid Uniqlo shirt that Popartgirl bought me hanging in my wardrobe, looking sadly unworn. It’s a kid’s shirt (and not even the largest size at that) and when I first saw it, I laughed and said I’d have to give it to my seven-year-old nephew. And then I tried it and had to eat my words. Bah. It fitted perfectly, except that I couldn’t button the cuff. The jeans are from my cousin’s boutique (I end up buying all the stuff she cannot sell because nobody else can fit into them) while the boots were a bargain from Charles & Keith’s recent warehouse sale (thanks, Trev!).

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And to end off, I would like to thank Mr Thick for gifting me with the Casio Baby-G (we are matchy-matchy now!) and a bouquet of white lilies and roses. I used to lament that he doesn’t have a single romantic bone in his body, I was so wrong! For the past year, he has been springing surprise after surprise on me while I am the one who has gone dull. Looks like VS is not too bad a school for boys to learn chivalry afterall.

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