Unconcious Restlessness

I haven’t met S for a long time, even way before the whole Covid-19 lockdown. We have known each other for 15 years. She is someone whom I can talk with, on anything and everything. Likewise. I to her.

I have tried to reach out to her for ages. But she has been busy with her career and Covid-19 turns her into a hermit, which doesn’t help. One fine day, she asked if we could meet up for lunch. With remote working, it is hard to meet people during lunch. Traveling to meet. The endless meetings. I hardly have time to eat in peace these days. How to find time to meet people during lunch?

So I proposed dinner. Since we live near to each other, I suggested Wine Connection at Robertson Quay. She counter-suggested Tiong Bahru Merci Marcel, a French restaurant that she hasn’t visited for a long time.

Sure! Merci Marcel is within walking distance from my home.

We opened a bottle of red wine. S was surprised that I drink (more so because we rarely meet for dinner and look, I don’t drink during lunch hours at work). Uh-huh. The dinner was really good. The wine collection, more to the expensive end, is varied and interesting. I would definitely revisit.

So we chatted. I enjoy chatting. Her dad recently passed away. I felt sad for her. She cried a little. My heart ached a little. I envy how her parents were used to be so loving together, all the way till old age. I wish my parents have such a blessed happy marriage.

I am someone who excels at compartmentalizing my life. There is work. And there is life. There is this vast majority of space I share with my wife. And there is this space of mine. I have different types of friends whom I can talk with, in different compartments of my life.

Unconscious restlessness, she said to me.

The great thing about chatting – at least to me – is that it is liberating. I am a man, yes. But deep inside, I am feminine. We don’t need to solve every jigsaw puzzle in life. We talk. We listen. The entire process may not solve anything. But it is liberating. We feel better afterward.

After dinner, S called a cab. And I saw her off. I have this weird feeling whereby, what if this was the last time we meet? After all, people drift away from each other. Just when she stepped into the cab – an image forever burned into my mind, there was lightning and thunder. Rain would soon come and I still needed to walk home.

Fortunately, I reached home right before the sky poured. This time, I am not drenched.

On a separate note, one good friend of mine at work – J – is retrenched. I feel for her. I know her boss well too. I said to her, I reckon it wasn’t easy for her boss too, to make that decision (I have made those decisions in the past and decisions in the past had also been made onto me). In the end, it is business. Work is work. J is the least experienced in her team. I can understand why her boss has to make that decision, despite how close they are at work.

It is business.

Compartmentalize things in life makes life easier.

We talked. And she confessed that she is not really good at her job, as yet. I said to her, find your strengths at work and work on that. Don’t waste time doing things you are not good at.

Good thing though, because J is a Singaporean. She enters a program whereby our company will place her into another part of the organization for reskilling for one year. If J is unable to find another role during that period, she will be retrenched for good.

Today, her boss called and wanted to extend her for another month.

W. T. H.?!

She felt obliged to be extended. I was like, look J, the team doesn’t want you. There is no future in what you do. Quickly find a new role and build your network. Use the time and find yourself another job!

I never look back on those who abandon me. Or those who don’t want me no more.


A Tow Truck

I hope in life, everything is as simple as calling a tow truck. I hope in life, money fixes everything. Unfortunately, they don’t. But in the context of my car, they do.

Seeing a tow truck in action – the first time for me – was quite an experience in a good way.

Yesterday, I wanted to visit Art Friends at Bras Basah Complex and buy a pen to doodle. I still have A3 papers, though they turn somewhat yellow after years of not doodling. It doesn’t bother me. Because even when I paint on brand new white papers, years later, they will turn yellow. Time leaves marks. To papers, and to hearts.

When my wife and I got into our car, it could not start. Oh great. This week sucks. And this adds to a list of bad news that actually looks pretty good okay on its own. Because (1) we live near town and can take public transport and (2) the first paragraph of this blog entry.

I was and still am in fact pretty chill about a malfunctioning car sitting in the carpark of our condo. We hardly drive. This morning, I emailed Mazda with a short video clip on how I could not start the car.

They called and told me that very likely, it was due to a battery issue. Mazda then referred me to a third party for help. I called the third party and was given two options (because I asked for it, job hazard). Option one, pay $60 for a mechanic to jump start my car and if that doesn’t work, call a tow truck (with extra cost). Or option two, pay $80 for a tow truck straight the way.

Or option three, I call one of my subordinates at work to help me jump start my car after work because (1) I have the cables and (2) I know how because I have helped others before. But I chose not to abuse my power (kekeke). Do I want to gamble on option one, still have to drive to the service center, go through the paperwork, and take a cab home? Or pay an extra $20 to save some time?

Money does fix something. And while we were at it, why not do a car servicing as well since my car is due for one?

The tow truck came and I recorded the entire episode on video, waved at the driver multiple times with my big smile (I was actually happy at those moments, which was welcoming).

Hours later, the service center called me and informed me that the battery was weak caused by the extremely low millage. Apparently, I need to drive at least 30 minutes for the alternator to charge the battery.

The challenge is, most of my return trips are less than 30 minutes. And we hardly drive. The question would then be: why do we still need a car?

Why do we want anything in life anyway?

Late afternoon, the service center called and informed me that my car was still on the queue for car wash. This might take some time. My reply was that it is really no hurry. Let’s do that tomorrow instead.

Doors of Possibilities – A Doodle

This morning, I woke up. I had a strong desire to doodle. There were things on my mind I needed to articulate. That’s how I cope with things.

Doors of Possibilities

What I wanted to articulate was that there are two types of people. One who rationalizes and analyzes the past history, present situation, and future possible outcomes before opening doors of possibilities. The other type would not think too much and keep as many doors opened as possible. There is no right or wrong answer here. Just difference in approach.

Centered to this doddle is one giant door that leads to nine doors. Why nine? In Chinese culture, the number nine symbolizes eternity, or in this case, infinity. It forms the universe we are currently living in (hence the trees and hills).

On the right, are cards of infinite possibilities. The outcomes are unknown. They are blank. Only time will tell what they are.

On the left, the focal point is the person, standing on top of an hour glass. Time is running out. Quick, make decisions! Wrapped around the person and the hour glass is a dual-symbol. It is a question mark. The person is thinking. It is also a serpent. There are temptations and risks as the person is staring into opportunities.

Lastly, observing this doodle from left to right first is a car. It represents the modern world, reality, technology, and hence, logic. In the middle are doors, but they are also metaphors. On the right, the concept further breaks into abstraction.

It is a journey from reality into abstraction, from the known into the unknown.

Last 24 Hours

What a day.

What an unusual day.

This morning, I had a chat with my boss at work. He is leaving. That is super sad. It is always very upsetting to see good guys get the short end of the stick. We talked. We WhatsApp. And there are things that I can’t share here.

This afternoon, I met with my ex-boss from Accenture. For more than 20 years we have known each other, we keep in touch. Intercontinental hotel, he has a discount to dine at Ash and Elm. He loves fine dining. Or dining, period. He loves to dine. Ash and Elm, is terrible. The food is just not good. My friend thought he had ordered pork knuckle and hickory chicken. As it turned out, it was pork knuckle pizza and hickory chicken pizza. WTF?! The menu was misleading. We couldn’t finish the food. My friend was deeply disappointed. He packed the leftover food home. Despite the dining experience, I really enjoyed catching up with my friend. He asked if he has lost weight. I chuckled and said no. He rolled his eyes. Deep inside, he has become more fit. But, still has chubby cheeks.

This evening, I have received a heartfelt email from my subordinate who is leaving my team and moving onto a better future, a much bigger role. I truly am happy for her. I have watched her grow, for two years. I have – or at least I think I have – provided a nurturing environment for her to grow. Looking at her, she is a miracle. She thanked me. Deep inside, I have her to thank. Because I know I have done something extraordinary, that I can do it. I can do it. Sad though, if I am honest with myself.

On a different but relevant topic, have you ever encounter someone who makes you lose your mind?

Oh yes.

That Last Smile, That Last Kiss

This morning, one of my songs kept on playing in my head. The song title is Addictively Beautiful. Part of the lyrics go something like:

You live to have that last dance
You live to have that last kiss
You live to see that last smile
So addictively beautiful

Excerpt from my song #133 titled Addictively Beautiful written on Oct 26th, 2005

The beauty of having more than 160 songs written by myself is that this collection of songs is very much customized to who I am. Some are inspired by my then observation. Some are derived from my experience, which not surprisingly, history often repeats itself. Because it is who I am. Some are prophetic, that is, songs that were written in the past that somewhat accurately predict the future. Some are just so random. This collection is often relevant, timeless.

Today I am on leave. Another day of reflection. A day of melancholy. I can’t help but think of all the ‘lasts’. The last time I saw that someone. The last time I saw that smile. The last time we had that hug. And the last time I had that kiss.

I thought of the last time I saw my distant cousin in Paris, many, many years ago. I was young. She was older. It was a train station. Or it could have been Metro. She waved at me, with a bitter smile. The long black coat she was wearing. I waved back at her. I was on my way to Montreal, Canada. Through the intervention of my families in Canada and France, my distant cousin and I did not manage to meet after that sent off. We wrote, snail mails. I have not heard from her since then. For someone who has sacrificed her youth and marriage in order to take care of her parents as in, her parents forbid her to get married – is so unfair. But it was her decision. After all, we adults make decisions. And we adults live with the consequences.

Till today, I would go back to that scene from time to time. I would not have known that was the last time I see her. Had I known, what would I have done differently?

When I left Oxford after my graduation heading to Singapore for my career, it was an interesting time. Hong Kong returned to China that year. But I have long decided to leave Hong Kong to follow my heart to the one I loved. She left the UK months before me because I stayed back to cycle with my then-bestie-turned-not-bestie from Oxford to Edinburgh camping along the way.

And when I left Oxford that morning, at the bus station, another of my bestie Toby turned up and sent me off. I was in my brown leather jacket and he was in his black one. Back then, we were kids. We tried to look cool. He put gel onto his hair. Clean look. I just didn’t care about mine. I was alone and he was there. Gosh, till today, I still miss him. How would I know that the next time I visited Oxford was 24 years later? But we have lost touch. You would have thought through social media, we would have reconnected. But nope. Nada. That was the last time I saw his face. Had I known, what would I have done differently?

The list goes on.

The answer is … nothing.

Unless, I treat every moment as if it was the last. And I should. I will. I am.

Today, I have been listening to Lucia’s Without You on repeat. For the curious ones, you can check out YouTube and the English translated lyrics.

It’s so lonely, me without you
I’m so lonely, on a night without anyone
Only holding onto lonely memories
Every day, I’m waiting for you

Excerpt from Lucia’s Without You
Shin Se-kyung is my heroine!

It is a soundtrack for a Korean drama The Bride of Habaek. I truly adore the Korean actress Shin Se-kyung. More often than not, females in Korea dramas portrait as the weaker ones, who need men. But Shin Se-kyung’s TV-series often are the opposite. Like Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung. She has a YouTube channel too. Her voice is so soothing.