Two of Us

east end: Lights up, part 1

A very quick update.

Most of our defects like scratched parquet and chipped doors have been rectified but I am not completely happy with the rectification provided by Sim Lian. Some of the work the workers did was shoddy. Take my balcony doors, for example. The joints between the tracks and the floor were crumbling and full of holes and when I asked the contractor to fix it, he said he would but it still isn’t.

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That’s the sad little wardrobe in the master bedroom. It’s been pulled out and it will be replaced by a larger L-shaped one. Yay! I suspect that it’s still going to be a bit of a squeeze but we didn’t want to do the “his stuff goes into the spare bedroom’s wardobe” scenario so we’ll have to share. It was quite a pain planning the wardrobe because the space is so tiny. With the king-sized bed taking up much of the space, we didn’t have a choice with the placement of the wardrobe. Plus, I couldn’t really understand what the carpenter was talking about – you need to speak in carpenter language. In the end, we got it all sorted out but we had to give up the sleek, sliding doors we wanted. The good news is, there is space for a dressing table/chest of drawers so more storage for my clothes! And bags! And accessories!

Some of the lights are also up.

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The small and cheap ($12.50) lights for the toilets (left) have been installed. We didn’t really put too much thought into these as the fluorescent tubes behind the mirrors are bright enough.

I love, love, love the balcony light (centre). You can’t really tell from the picture because it’s still wrapped up in plastic bag but it’s shaped like a bird’s nest. It goes prettily with our patio chairs and table.

The kitchen light was chosen from its utility. It’s bright enough to illuminate the tiny kitchen, it didn’t cost too much and is easy to replace the bulbs. Ditto the other two lights for the storeroom and the service yard (didn’t really bother to snap pictures of those because they are ordinary).

The rest of the lights for the living/dining room and bedrooms require re-wiring and will be up once the false ceiling is in place. Now, those are much more interesting and I can’t wait for them to be up!

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Geek Girl

Isabella iPhone

Warning: this is a geekoid post.

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When August 22 arrived, neither Mr Thick nor I bought the iPhone. Oh, it’s not that we did not want the slick piece of perfection to come into these willing arms. Being StarHub users, we (rather, he) were not keen to let go of our phone-internet-cable TV Hub package and move over to the red camp. To be perfectly honest, I was more than happy to switch operators; afterall, I had deliberately not re-contract with Sparky’s owners just for the iPhone. The other reason was due to the fact that the data plans offered by Singtel were not enticing at all and I was not interested in doubling the cost of my price plans just for that sad 1GB of data.

I was literally dying inside to buy the phone. I grabbed onto Trevor’s Froth every chance I could get, cooing over his Rabbid themes with adoration. Yes, I was that sick. We contemplated buying the phone without a contract but stingy ‘ol me refused to pay $1k for a phone, even though it is the Jesus phone. The answer came to us late last year: his friend, who is a Singtel customer, wanted a HTC phone (??) that was only available on StarHub and was willing to trade. With me! Hurrah! Poor Mr Thick is still under contract so the deal fell onto my all-too-willing lap.

And that’s how Isabella iPhone came into my world last month.

It’s been a wonderful experience and the iPhone is so easy to use that I didn’t have the usual teething problems I had faced when reviewing crap Korean and Finnish phones. Of course, there were some missing functions that I used to get from my trusty Sony Ericsson – 3G video calls, MMS, copy and paste, Bluetooth, message forwarding – but so far, none of these have hindered me greatly. The best thing is, Isabella (she’s in pink!) has become more than a phone to me – I can now write blog posts while on the MRT and email it to myself when I get home, I can watch videos on a larger screen as compared to my StaRPod ver2.0, I can tweet (!) whenever I feel like it, I can take pictures and upload them immediately onto my Flickr account…you get the drift.

Thanks to Popartgirl’s generosity, I was gifted with a US$25 gift card for my birthday and the first purchase of the day was Sally’s Salon, a disgustingly addictive game that kept me up till 3am. With the card, I now have an US account (which is much more comprehensive than the sad local platform offered to us by Apple) and have been buying tunes (Ingrid Michaelson’s live rendition of Creep is pure awesomeness), apps and games with glee. Yums.

Anyway, if you are a girly user like I am, here are the top 12 apps/games that I really like using:

1. Sally’s Salon (US$0.99) – It’s similar to the old Nintendo game that I used to play, where you have to run to each bar aisle and catch the empty beer mugs that patrons discard. Except this time, you are facing a horde of disgruntled customers who want to do their hair, nails and tan and they want it NOW.

2. Saturday Night Fever (free!) – I love the cool graphics and retro music! You tap and glide your fingers according to the beat amid a backdrop featuring a dancing man with a bouffant hairdo that can rival Kim Jong-Il.

3. Polarizer (free!) – Turn the photos that you take into Polaroids. Most of the pictures taken in previous posts have been processed by the Polarizer. I love the effect!

4. NYTimes (free!) – When I am lazy in the morning and refuse to get out of bed, I switch on Isabella’s wifi and read the news with my head on my pillow.

5. Style.com (free!) – Get all the fashion news from Style.com while on the go!

6. Tweetie (US$2.99) – Read everyone’s tweets in a user-friendly format. Posting pictures was a bit of a pain, though, and it took me three tries before it was uploaded successfully.

7. Facebook (free!) – I swear it, I am addicted to Facebook and update my status at least once a day.

8. SG Wireless (free!) – Sign on to the dreadfully temperamental and laggy Wireless@SG with just a tap. That reminds me, I gotta get my password sorted out and stop filching Mr Thick’s account.

9. NetNewsWire (free!) – See NYTimes. I live in my bed.

10. Darkslide (free!) – Take pictures and upload to your Flickr account.

11. Tap Tap Revenge (free!) – Relive your para para days and tap your fingers to the music! The best part is, you can download free tunes to update the playlist.

12. AllRecipes (free!) – I haven’t really tried any of the recipes but I really like the DinnerSpinner feature. The users’ feedback offers different ways of updating and improving the recipes.

(PS: Isabella is named thus because my MacBook, her surrogate mother, is named Ingrid. Go figure.)

The organised chaos

Age creeping up on me

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As an unemployed person, I should have all the time in the world. But somehow, I find that the hours seem to fly by me so quickly. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I seem to be catching up on all the sleep that had eluded me last year, and all the TV shows (Battlestar Galactica, how I’ve missed you!) that have been piling up, unwatched, because of the wedding, of Christmas, of the house, of a thousand and one excuses.

On the spur of the moment last night, I decided to clear out some of my cupboards and pack for the big move. If I had been in any doubt that I am a sentimental creature, last night made it crystal clear. Hidden in the depths of the cupboards were tin boxes stuffed full of letters, cards, notes and little trinkets that had accompanied my life since I was 12.

My Mickey Mouse autograph book when I was 12 showed that I carried the same sense of humour then. The letters that Min had written to me, addressed to “Danesy”, back at a time when we had caught Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, which still remains one of my favourite movies. The anonymous secret pal letters addressed to “Star”. A card bearing the serenity prayer, given to me at a time when I felt that my soul was lost and there would be no light waiting for me at the end of the tunnel. The dreadful poems that I had composed on the back of graph paper and which had kept me going. A booklet of the crazy photo stickers that we had taken during our two years in junior college. A letter sent from somewhere in Yellowstone, which I hadn’t been able to open and reread again. There was even a box of items that had once belonged to my father: his namecards, journalist passes, an ancient solar powered calculator.

Some letters had been bound neatly into little piles with red ribbon. Others were tossed carelessly into the boxes. And yet some were placed gently into a paper bag.

I don’t know what I am going to do with these little knick knacks when we shift over. I have half a mind to keep them though, just because I can’t bear to toss them into the trash bin. Maybe one day, my daughter or son will find these and be amused (or horrified, really) by the things that their mommy had once received and written. Is that my legacy to them, then, these little signposts that signal their mother’s youth? Would they be able to understand what kind of person I had been and how I became the sort of person that they see me as?

Perhaps when we shift over, I may even open them up again and share them with my husband, laughing at how young and innocent I was, and being thankful at how much I have today.

* This song accompanied me on my last day at 82GL. It’s also kept me going on many a night when all is silent and dark, and I am knee deep in data CDs that have no labels. It’s Rob Pattinson’s Never Think from the Twilight soundtrack and again, I marvel at how soulful his voice is. It’s imperfect and raw, and perfect when you are alone in the dark.

Arts & Entertainment

Lost in a good book

I’m quite the escapist.

The way I see it, reality is mundane on many levels and escaping into the magical world of fantasy books is one of the best ways liven up my life. Fantasy books have worlds that are similar to mine and yet each and every character exists on a plane that’s so much more acute, sensitive and colourful.

Over the lunar new year, I was immersed in Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Not the most auspicious book, I grant you, but Bod’s world of ghosts and ghouls and werewolves and Jacks is so wonderful and suspenseful that I can’t help but see the graveyards in a different light. I’ve following Gaiman’s tweets and found out through his posting that he’s recently won the Newbery prize. His humorous and somewhat childlike excitement makes me see how and why this man can conceive such fantastic reads.

Against my own judgement, I racked up a $120 bill at Borders last weekend and promptly devoured the remaining three books from the Twilight saga. That’s right – three thick tomes of vampire lore (with great covers, I must admit) kept me company over one weekend. They were constantly on my mind, even when I was picking out lights for east end.

I still don’t think that Stephenie Meyer is a good writer. The dialogue is needlessly long and obvious, the characters a little too two-dimensional. But as a colleague pointed out, it’s hard not to be drawn into their world. Laugh at me if you will (my cousins certainly did!) but it’s just such a fascinating existence to imagine that my immensely active brain enjoyed the process of conjuring the different scenes and backdrops. Doubtless, it helps that visions of Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight blends so seamlessly into my own interpretation, and that Kristen Stewart’s Bella is exactly how I imagine Bella to be. (I’m still in two minds about Robert Pattinson’s Edward but boy, is he musically inclined or what. I’ve got the song he contributed to the Twilight soundtrack on repeat mode.)

I like imagination and I like the pictures that pop up in my head. I like going on these visual journeys to a world that’s so faraway from mine and that’s why I love reading so much. Although I appreciate how words roll about in my mind, appreciate the beautiful ways they are strung and structured, appreciate the emotions they evoke in me, my favourite part of reading is still how easily and effortlessly I can transcend my world into the realities of fiction. I may never be as accomplished a writer as these authors but at least I can still share the imaginary worlds that they live in.

Next up on my list are The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Ali Smith’s The Accidental, Douglas Coupland’s Eleanor Rigby and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. The next two weeks, barring my trip to Taipei, will be full of literary satisfaction.

(Note to self: remember to pack for the big move)

Two of Us

east end: the beginning

The problem with doing up our apartment is that it makes it so difficult for me to be satisfied with being married dating couple.

We don’t see each other everyday and we say goodnight over the phone. It’s been okay for the past few months but now that we are so close yet so far to the beginning of that new chapter, it makes me feel antsy and very impatient. I hate being shown the apple and told not to eat it till, oh, a month later. Maybe that’s why Eve caved and took a bite anyway. Unfortunately, I can’t just move in, unless I am ready to sleep on scratched parquet floor and have nowhere to stash my clothes and things.

east end is not perfect. It comes with lots of little defects which irritated me a lot but at the end of the day, I am just grateful that these are little things that can be fixed easily. And as we continue to purchase the things that will turn east end from merely an empty space to a home, my heart smiles a little more contentedly. It’s not the my dream home (no large kitchen with sunlight streaming in, no floor to ceiling book shelves lining the walls) but it’s perfect enough for now.

I love how it’s always bright and light, how it’s so windy and cool at this time of the year, how the green field that the flat overlooks makes me feel at peace, how sitting at the balcony and bay windows feels so natural already.

I can’t wait to move in.

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Looking in from the main door

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Pretending to cook in our tiny kitchen

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Corridor to the rooms

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Looking up