hanging out as a only-borderline-hermit




this is on a morning before 8am (an anomalous early rising for some in our family), when C and dad and myself headed to Kovan for breakfast

my earliest memories of Kovan were made more than ten years ago: the man selling parking coupons and lottery tickets, the Prima Deli bakery with its kaya waffle machine, the Popular bookstore and its music CDs (the store still stands and is more or less the same down to its smell)

all these things are still there (so is Ho Kee Pau, Cold Storage, and KFC)

Heartland Mall has enough “new” tenants that it’s character seems somewhat changed, and its quarters quite cramp

the only tenant i quite miss is the Neoprint/purikura shop on the third floor (or was it the second) that we primary school students would go to and spend an immodest $6-$8 on (split five-ways, that was $1.60, which was still more than the cost of lunch in the canteen)




above: making a Baby Guinea Pig (all designs sourced from ravelry.com)

below: finally meeting a friend and checking out a Maker’s Market of sorts at red dot museum — W dropped me at plaza sing(apura) afterwards because i was catching some movie with C & parents, but because of my ineptitude at being the navigator for drivers (i am more than ok navigating on foot/bike), we spent many minutes detouring and U-turning and going up and down the highway





on some nights i go to bed when the sun returns to our side of the seas


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all five back home



修身、齐家、治国、平天下 translates to: cultivate (your)self, order the household, govern the nation, peace for all under

i should be quick about resting up and live out days that are not only-great for myself-alone

above above: grandpa getting his braised duck + rice,

below: granny & J making teowchew kueh, kueh being dumplings

there are many kinds of dumplings: gyoza (jiaozi/饺子) is a dumpling

xiaolongbao is a dumpling

and the kitty i am about to crochet is also a dumpling





the above photo was included possibly as a mistake (as in mistakenly selected as i looked through my iPhoto to look for not-too-banal photos)

i mentioned this a long time ago, but part of how i use this blog is to…”contextualize” images that i would have, if i were 15 again, put instead in a Facebook album

if, like a hamster running on a wheel with little bells attached to its sides, i stop for a moment to think of what i really am doing here, maybe i wouldn’t get back on!!???!

in the name of cultivating myself and reading instead of typing!!!??



the perks of being the youngest child is that you will be a baby the longest and strongest (:

i will have more than one child

maybe three……

but global albeit unequal overpopulation……

i never questioned my assumption that (1) i want marriage/i see marriage as a positive contributor to my lifelong happiness/fulfillment; (2) i want to have children

but it’s good to question, regardless of why you were led to question such once-immutable comfortable “truths”

if you can’t kick yourself out of (erroneously) entrenched positions, here’s to hoping that we all have friends that will

oh right: in above, we are at the airport waiting for the shuttle-train to take us to the terminal where C’s plane has arrived from London

i used to ask “when are you going back to london?”

but she only flies there not studies there

flight connections between ex-colonial overlords and ex-colonial outposts are excellent!

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another weekend in homeland


this post is dated 2 July 2016 but i’m writing it on 14 August 2016, which is after Joseph Schooling wins Singapore’s first gold medal, setting a new Olympic record and trumping his idol who set that record previously; 14 august is also after a bereavement in the family

see the sidebar



on a previous (extended) family outing to Kranji, grandma was very much taken with the malleable and theoretically infinitely creative manipulations of clay by the pottery maker, whose wet hands moulded cups and bowls and plates for children

this Saturday, we wake early (early for us, middle-of-morning for J’s family) and head to Commonwealth MRT where a pottery studio is



we pinch and spin and wet and air-dry

some of us make ashtray-lookalikes, some others make pots for little plants

i am making a haptic cup, whose rainbow-like “handle” was borne out of a mistake made useful

all mistakes are useful!


so as to not take our local/Chinese-Singaporean food practices for granted, i will actually write it down right now right here

zi char is…a format of food (like how dim sum is a format of food, or at least how i’m categorizing it right here right now) where you order dishes to be shared, instead of individual portions/meals

e.g. my favorites are cereal prawns, ma po tofu, oyster omelette, coffee pork ribs, sweet & sour pork

you order individual plates of rice with which you can eat these dishes and their sauces/gravy

for dish orders, they usually come in different ‘sizes’: small/medium/large portions

i’m embedded enough in coffeeshop food culture that it’s hard to describe it thoroughly

i will try again another time


do not fear!!!

this is honey!!!!

which is the best! antidote! not for hives! but for my wandering, seeking fingers that want! to! scratch!!!!!


the first time i played Blokus was in Tufts’ campus center

the game was Y’s

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in need of physical healing


i haven’t been home for too long, but before i can fully indulge in my hermit aspirations, it seems that i have hives

i hate having hives

i get them every 2 years or so…and the first incident i remember was after A-levels (hence it can’t be that my skin is now forever trapped in nowhereland and doomed eternally to react in a rash, neither suited to the chapped cold of Boston, nor the lush humidity in Singapore)

hives can be caused by just about anything

from wind to pollen, food allergies to emotional distress

anyway, they come and they go and they usually take up 2-4/5 nights of my sad life

whenever i have hives i am reminded of my saying that “HELL IS COLD AND ITCHY (not fiery and…unchanging)



oh right, i still don’t have hives at this point

and no, there will be no photos of this aggravating skin condition

Thae^2 shows me her Myanmarese paste solution, which we rub against a flat stone used precisely for grinding paste-pills into solution, before we rub it all over me

itching in itself isn’t hellish — what is, is withholding from scratching, which feels heavenly

except that with hives, the more you scratch it, the more it spreads under your skin

the baddest thing feel bestest

i just had to have superlatives

hives are the worst, hands down, fingers bound



above above: going to Marine Parade with T (who is my youngest sister…using an initial letter to represent her being/relation to me is, here, insufficient, especially because of the following anecdote: at the train platform, T asks me “why don’t we ever call me mei mei?”, which reminds me of our young ex-neighbor who’s since moved away, who refers to himself as di di; for the uninitiated/non-Chinese speaking, mei mei means little sister and di di means little brother)

above: my 82 year-old grandpa alternates between spoonfuls of oyster omelette and ice kachang: oily protein and syrup-y shaved ice

below: Lucky’s got a hair cut and he doesn’t know it but his cuteness has decreased by a factor of…five

facts are facts, don’t need to be glum, we still love you 1000% because you are not loved for your looks, although your silly look is very lovable indeed

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the weekend edition



i almost always book my Flight Home To Singapore with an eye on the day of the week — i arrive right before the weekend and leave right after the weekend to maximize the amount of weekends to be spent with family + extended family

this summer round, even though i also have limited time (in fact, the most limited time in Singapore ever!!!!), it feels different, because it’s a book end to the era of studying in 24-hours-away Bosotn

and it’s also actually different because my flight back wasn’t booked with the Day of the Week in mind, but the Day of the Month — i wanted to leave in the middle of June so that it’d be easier to split June rent with my sublet, who was also going to be taking over my room for the next school year



i’m thinking now about all the Tufts non-graduating undergrads whose lives and paths mine own had intersected with, especially the ones for whom our mutual existence was a light brush-by, not a deeper world

when they return to campus, and if they’re like me and think also of Things That Are Absent/Missing/Not There (there is a trick to doing this and that trick is daydreaming! because, if you’re only thinking about concrete things, you can’t think about Things That Are Absent because absence is a hard thing to hold), then maybe they’ll wonder about the black hole that replaces their impression of my existence

when their minds wander across absence, they will make living fossils



before the Gardens by the Bay opened to the general public, i had walked its two air-conditioned domes! i was interning somewhere between Dhoby Ghaut and Somerset (a great place to start any evening run), and that attachment also sent me to Gardens by the Bay for their public outreach

a staff bus would shuttle workers from GBB to Maxwell Food Centre or Golden Mile, depending on the day of the week — this was until the food stalls opened at GBB itself

now, with the Park Connectors drawing cyclists from East Coast Park and beyond, it seems a faraway thing, this inaccessibility of Gardens by the Bay

in fact, on a cool evening, the short walk from Marina Bay Sands (which, thanks to the not-new Circle Line, you can arrive at immediately instead of walking from City Hall or Clarke Quay) becomes even shorter


(on this Saturday late morning, we rent our bikes from East Coast Park and head towards MBS, passing through GBB — we get Gong Cha at MBS…)

there is a lot to do and see at GBB and it’s really fun and completely free and i’m glad—assuming we take for granted that land in Singapore is a precious premium that demands productivity/profit as its passport to exist—that even if we lose certain important things with such shiny development, at least the things we gain include nature and community in their values



you know what, i’m going to write something about SG food sooner or later

an article that is more than this

with more directed photos than this

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home is where you pillow

so i have been home for a day or two or five or eight, and am catching up on the many hours of silence, stillness, and sleeplessness instead of sleep

it is nearly as if i am trying to make good on my hypothesis-prophecy that i am a secret insomniac, where the secret is one kept from myself, not by denial but by mere lack of recognition

but there are more interesting things than my take on my sleep, so let’s look at one of them: a bleppin’ sleepy cat



it was my misfortune to not have a more-diligent attitude toward Chinese language classes as a preteen, since language acquisition is much more efficient before the age of 12

but you can always (try to) learn different things, such as baking a blueberry crumble muffin, such as how to make a kite, such as how to code


i have not stayed on-campus since my sophomore year, and i certainly will not start doing so in my post-graduate life

even without the school dorms being so expensive, even without the overpriced school accommodation being completely full, i would still rather arrive in Sydney with uncertainty hanging over my Accommodation For End-July To End-Nov

that is my plan, and that is what i will do

http://www.flatmates.com.au is the website for finding flatmates/housemates, and sometimes even sharemates (which is exactly what it sounds like: sharing a room versus an apartment)

there are lots of variables and the deluge of choice makes for a queasy paradox, and in the following days i find myself pouring hours across these flatmates.com.au profiles

e.g. cost (i thought $250/week was a reasonable budget, but…it is insufficient…)

e.g. neighbourhood (near/far from campus? can i get a bike soon enough? will i actually bike in the congested, snarly-traffic city?)

e.g. socialness (some listings explicitly say “we don’t want someone who just lives here but someone who will be a part of the fam”, or “we often eat dinner or watch TV together”, or ”

e.g. availability (some listings want a minimum 1 year stay, others will only be ready on 31st Aug, which is a week after my AirBnb stay ends and also a week after my semester begins)

e.g. suitability (one listing had Internet listed as “Not Available”, another was all-dudes, and yet another was a “(male,) single, professional, kind and easy going home owner…females only”

e.g. niceness (some apartments look bad in the photos, so you can bet they are terrible in real life)




perhaps because of all the low-running background stress from transitioning from boston (to singapore) to sydney, climbing with the very people i first climbed with is especially pleasant





i’ve changed my mind

i don’t want to be(come) a cat

i want to become a cat-perch

i have fulfilled my dream!

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honestly not that humid


i am home~

unfortunately, keeping to my hermit tradition, i do not announce this nor do i make instagram posts that say it (although if you recognize Lucky and Toby then i guess you’d know)

i am sorry that i need days upon weeks of rest at home after ocean-flying transitions

i already know how i’m going to spend my upcoming days (partly because…these days have passed in real time, which is currently about 30 days ahead of blog time)

swimming, eating, reading, not-running (since my knee and toe are weird), climbing

and playing with pets<3




so yeah, i didn’t realize i had this gash on my leg until, when in my parents’ automobile, i somehow brushed it

i got it when i scooted out of my non-aisle seat and hovered over the aisle seat’s arm rest, which had a hard, sharp, plastic jagged bit sticking out in wait

(i make myself get up for the bathroom when the girl in the aisle seat goes so that i never have to stride over her)

i didn’t think it would make such a big sash of red~


is Singapore expensive?

are its inhabitants bathed in chronic stress?

come with me a grab a delicious bowl of $3~$4.50 noodles, whose makers wake before Singapore’s late dawn (predawn is still predawn), firing up woks and pots and ovens and furnaces, just to bring decades of flavor and experience to you

and with a cup of teh tarik/teh halia/teh si/kopi-o kosong we will be happy



Toby is really fun

i don’t care why he likes to perch, i love being a perch

it’s hard to read cats because it’s hard to project human tendencies onto them (the way it is easy to project onto dogs, whose scared ears when guilty or uncontrollable bounding when happy are characteristics we see in children, except with different body parts and heights)

but i guess i must take it on good faith

that Toby likes perching

whether you are flat on your back or sideways on the ground, he will find you

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robbing stolen time

it just so happens that, in my stolen day in NYC (in a nutshell, if you didn’t read the previous post: my flight got so delayed that it was pushed back 24h, but i managed to split my flights up such that i could get about 19 hours in NYC), B does not have work to go to

J went to work in the morning and i wasn’t awake to say THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME CRASH SO MUCH AND So Long Farewell Auf Wiedersehn Goodbye for the second time in four days







a broken lamp, however, has no utility at night except as decoration, an upside-down, hanging pot



nobody around could ever guess that i was supposed to be in Frankfurt/over the Atlantic Ocean instead of in Manhattan

because nobody else was in the bathroom with me


because this day is stolen, as if the calendar year was ripped down the middle (wait a minute, it’s June 16th, IT IS THE MIDDLE), and an extra day ballooned in the vacuum, we both feel sorta strange

like time is timeless or time is too quickly sublimated

it is so strange it is a lovely desert blossom, a novel, alien sight but instinctively precious

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dearest life, sometimes i love you


B sent me this photo of me taken on the last day of 2015, across East River, looking at my Second-favourite City To Be Young In as well as the Chrysler Building

when he sent this to me i was like “who dis”

but it was me!

anyway i’m in boston “now” (actually i’m in sydney now) and in the now-of-the-photo i’m in NYC, and if this sounds confusing, it’s all a set-up for the climax of this post



i have a lot of things to pass to E so it is good and nice that her brother is helping with my 46++kg of luggage

when he arrives i have JUST finished packing and moving out of my room

the night before, i intended to fall asleep at 5 or 6am and intended to fully finish packing but instead i slept at like 3

i should’ve written it down, but i think for 4 nights i slept 5h, and 5h at very odd timings (e.g. 6am – 12nn)

the things you can do as a youthful insomniac

just kidding i’m far from youthful


goodbye painting

C, P and myself went to Paint Bar at Newbury Street in Boston, where we painted this painting by following, stroke by stroke, our instructor, whom i remember as seeming only superficially interested in our welfare (but interested enough in our progress, which would affect the precise end of his shift)

that night, because there was a lot of extra paint left, i painted a silly streak of lavender on half of my watch strap: only a tiny Rorschach-looking bit remains

beyond packing my stuff out of the kitchen and my room and the storeroom overlooking our backyard (where i put my baking equipment and climbing stuff), i also have stuff in the basement that i donated the previous day at midnight

there is A LOT of accumulated and underused stuff, and i will henceforth bear the lesson that Less is Best or at least Just Enough is Just Right

i wouldn’t call it minimalism, which seems to preclude wonderful decorations like colorful lights (which i also had to give away…despite my bright idea, when i bought it at a japanese store—Kinokuniya??—in a district in Seattle, that i would bring it to my future home in SG…i don’t buy things easily and when i do i tend to remember where and why; i also, belatedly, eventually realized that the power outlet for these colorful lights were US-style, and would require an adaptor for SG’s sockets)

i would call it…Save The Earth And Yourself By Questioning Your Shopping

deliberately awkward title


it kinda sucks to KNOW that you’re seeing places/neighborhoods for the last time in a long time

to tell yourself that this is goodbye and that you have ejected yourself from the community, because even if the parts do not know each other, they know the whole which they are part of, and it is a whole that is, somehow, home

it kinda sucks to move on from a college student with a bike lifestyle

yet, would it be better overall if i were glad to haul ass and leave? of course not; this sadness is its own gladness

and now it’s time for coffee


as la colombe comes to boston from NYC (originally from PA), i leave boston for…

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