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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lead me not into...

Those of you familiar with the Lord's prayer would know what word is missing from the title of this post. I don't mean anything by the title except an admission of the fragility of a human being's will.

After an extremely tiring 3 days work trip which had me feeling every single year of my age ( I fell asleep in the airport limo en route to the airport at 5pm in the evening!), I'm back in Singapore with tons to do work-wise and personal life-wise. I'll get down to them eventually but I need some chill out time and what/where else best but in this blog.

Psychologists have said that human beings may forget the details but not how someone makes them feel. I am a strong supporter of that statement. It isn't deliberate or even, voluntary, but when something sparks a memory, triggers images, sounds and sensations from the past, the emotions that accompany them always hit me harder than a brick wall.

I can recall how it was then, as clearly as it was yesterday. And when I did, the lyrics of Bryan Adam's song "Please forgive me", a song I haven't heard for ages came to mind

First time our eyes met, same feeling I get, only feels much stronger... I remember the smell of your skin / I remember everything / I remember all the moves / I remember you yeah

Indeed, the footprints left behind by those who have come into (and in some cases left) our lives are indelible, unmarred by the passage of time or distance. Particularly those that we have loved and...dared to dream of a future together with.

So many say that the world is small, Singapore even smaller, and it is unavoidable that some day somehow, the paths of those who have crossed our lives before will cross again. And indeed in this case, after 8 years of not seeing each other, 10 years of not speaking, X years of living in different countries, pursuing different lives, interests, the path of one whom I never expected to hear from ever again (given how it all ended) crossed mine in a manner least expected.

I have no excuses for my behavior then, and when it finally dawned upon my immature 22 year old mind that I should apologize, the hurt in his eyes every time I looked at him kept me away. And then finally when I found the courage to want to approach him, the gulf between us had grown so wide there was no way, much less any point to bridge the gulf. Even when I heard about his father's passing.

I think it is time to make peace with my past, the brash mistakes of my youth.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Last Min Travelling

I know I'd posted after the NY trip (click here to read) that I really enjoyed some "me-alone" time abroad. And I know that I still like having some days alone or with other friends, without meeting my CEB, especially with the upcoming nuptials. It isn't that I love my CEB lesser after almost a year together, in fact as I told him over dinner today, I find myself loving him more and more. To the point where I am scared and want to pull away because I'm so sacred of being hurt again, of being let down, disappointed...shattered. To love him so much is to give him so much power over me. But what gives me faith to still put my heart in his hands is that he has put his heart in mine unreservedly.

Anyway, the point is that I had a court deadline to meet today, one which I had slaved over and worked feverishly on during my waking working hours the past 2 weeks. And I was told by my PM this morning to prepare an agenda on the legal issues to be raised for the next 2 days, and also, to prepare for an international teleconference at 830 on the morning before flying out on a 10.15 flight out tomorrow for a very short trip. So it was a very busy crazy day today balancing both the court deadline and getting the stuff ready for this trip. Not to mention packing, and planning how to juggle getting to the airport and doing the teleconference tomorrow morning.

Still, all that doesn't compare to the overwhelming feeling of reluctance welling inside of me - a reluctance to leave my CEB. He would tell you I am the furthest thing from being a "sticky" gf. And I would tell you that I am happy and comfortable being alone, even when travelling. So it is a novel thing for me now, to feel that I would rather not go on this trip. Maybe it is because my CEB is sick and is need of some TLC- the poor buaya looks thoroughly miserable and his horrid cough won't seem to go away. Or maybe it is because we haven't had enough quality time together after all the travelling by both of us in March.

Whatever the case, I'm worried that given I feel this way now before we are married and staying together, I am going to have trouble packing my bags after May this year. How I really wish I could bring my CEB along with me this time - we always have such a good time together. Anyway, there is Brazil for our honeymoon in September, I can't wait to explore somewhere different and far away with my buaya and can only hope he is looking forward to this as much as I am! :D

Little Red Riding Hood (2011) Movie

The one and only movie we caught over the weekend in Msia was Little Red Riding Hood, of which a very good plot summary can be found here.

The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. This movie should be titled Big Red Herring instead of Little Red Riding Hood! That being said, I am not really sure why this movie has been called the worst movie of 2011 because we both enjoyed the movie. What I particularly liked was that it drove home to me (painfully of course), the point that sometimes I always miss what is right in front of my eyes, what is so obvious. Right from the moment the lead's mother disclosed to her that her sister had a different father, and that father was also killed by the werewolf later on, it should have been clear that the person with a motive was the lead's father. However, I was distracted by the triangle romance between the lead and the 2 men. And, by her grandmother of course.

On a side note, The lead actress is really beautiful with blond hair, pale flawless skins, huge blue eyes and luscious red lips.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Whatever you Think Think the Opposite by Paul Arden

I happened to pick up this book while at Borders last week. Tired from all the walking and running about, I decided to flip through the rather thin but interesting looking book while resting my feet/butt at the bookshop. Some of the pages didn't "speak" to me but some did, especially those related to work woes which a number of my friends have been sharing.

So I thought I'll share the wisdom in the book to encourage those of you who are discouraged / tired etc at work.

Life is about decisions. Whatever decision you make is the only one you could make. Otherwise you would make a different one. Everything we do, we choose. What is there to regret? You are the person you choose to be.

If people constantly reject your ideas or what you have to offer, resign. You can't keep fighting AND losing. That makes you a problem. If you are good and right for the job, your resignation will not be accepted. You will be re-signed on your terms. If they accept your resignation, you were in the wrong job and it is better to move on. It takes courage but it is the right move.

Death is more universal than life - everyone dies but not everyone lives ~ A. Sachre

Peperoni Pizzaria

I realize I have been posting very little about food or books. And it really isn't the case that I haven't been having quite a bit of both in my life lately, especially the former. It's just that the current matter has occupied all my working bandwidth and the upcoming nuptials, most of my non-working bandwidth, leaving me with little time to blog about other stuff.

Anyway, to distract myself from the conference call I have with my boss in a matter of hours (the time zone difference means we are talking after he puts his kids in bed), I've decided to write about a meal that I had the week before with my best friend from Secondary school days. Being a strictly west-side gal (before and after married life), she suggested that we go to a nice little restaurant Greenwood Avenue to satisfy her pizza craving for dinner.

We were most surprised to be told that most of the tables were reserved when we got there at 6am. Nonetheless since some of the reservations were from 7.30pm, we were given a table and given the menus. We started with the Chicken Wings- S$8 for 8 pieces - undeniably finger licking good stuff.


I had been having a risotto craving for some time and so I ordered the Seafood Risotto - S$24. The Slog Reviews: 4/10. I think there is a reason this place has the word pizza in its name - it doesn't do Risotto very well - the risotto was freaking tasteless and a sheer waste of calories. Ingredients were mediocre and didn't impress. Do not waste your $ ordering this dish really


Unfortunately, my best friend decided to give risotto a try instead of her pizza and what a bad decision it turned out to be. The Prawn Risotto - S$26 was left 1/4 untouched - she said she ate the rest only because she was so hungry but she would never order this dish again either.


As we were there during Happy Hours, we ordered the Softdrink Jug at S$13. Talk about yet another mistake. The Jug was so full of ice that we only got less bang for the buck ordering the jug as opposed to ordering ice lemon tea at S$3.50 per cup.

I'm not in a hurry to go back to this restaurant but I think that if one has to dine here, one really would be better off trying out the pizza.

Here is the address and tel number:
Peperoni Pizzaria
6 Greenwood Avenue Singapore 289195
Tel: 6465 6556

Time and Stress

I didn't charge my BB on Thurs so by Fri evening it was quite dead and I had no idea this morning what time my meeting with my colleagues was. I figured that given the importance of the matter, I should have set it at 9am and getting out of bed this morning to get to work by 9am was a nightmare which had me almost in tears. I literally thought of killing myself so I wouldn't have to get in the car, get stuck in the damn jam and drive the 20+km to work on that one damn matter.

We have been working on that matter the entire week last week. It has consumed by entire bandwidth and coupled with the other legal matters I should be managing (and am trying to manage) just in SG alone, you could say that I am pretty wiped out. I don't even want to think about the legal matters in the other countries that I am managing in the region, all the unanswered emails, 2 of which I just got chasers for. Days like today, I really just want to throw in the towel, go home and not work any more.

It isn't that the stress level is any much higher than what I had gone through in my previous company. There is no such thing as a free lunch in this world and I recognize that the reason I am paid X amount is because I should deliver X amount, not X minus one. So I accept that I should uphold my end of the bargain and deliver, no matter how I feel. Part of me really wants to whine "But I am tired, I need a break" and yet the other part of me which is cultivated by my good colleague and my beloved ex-boss tells me that everything is about management, management of what is within my control. It helps tremendously that I like working, am used to working hard and the work I do. What I lament is the lack of this precious commodity called time.

My colleagues close to me tease me that I am the most sought after person in the company now. Indeed I sleep with my BB in my hand some nights, and I run around the office for back to back meetings. When I first started work many years ago, I loved meetings - it made me feel like I was someone important. Now? I dread meetings because they are a pre-cursor to more work and the time used could be well-spent getting work done.

I guess I'm just having one of those "off" days - I seldom complain or grouse my work, preferring instead to highlight the positive aspects of the job. I figure since complaining doesn't make all that I have to do miraculously disappear, I might as well psycho myself into feeling good about the work, change my attitude so that at least it won't be so hard to get through.

Coupled with the fact that I'm likely to be travelling at short notice (this is what frustrates me about my job - I'm given short notice and have no control over the work schedule), I have had hardly any time to do stuff for the wedding that ought to have been done by now. I was planning to do these with my CEB over the weekend but my buaya has been under the weather and pretty wiped out himself so we did the minimal and spent the rest of the time having fun. It helps a lot that our love language is pretty much the same - quality time and physical touch.

And I believe that I should retract what I said earlier about my CEB being unromantic - he is a closet romantic - the kind that you really have to know on a couple level before he shows you his loving side - the side that wakes up at 4am in the morning , holds you and assures you that everything is going to be fine because he is there. Sometimes, all one needs really is the knowledge that one is not alone, and that knowledge that someone is with you in your corner can be enough to give you the strength and conviction to carry on.

Truth be told, I'm happy that my CEB is more the laid-back supportive kind of guy because if he was just like me, and wanted to plan things or had a view about everything, I think we would be fighting like cats and dogs. My CEB is pretty much agreeable (Smart guy - I wonder who tipped him off that his life would get much easier that way hehe) to everything I've planned save for some minor inputs which is just the way I like it. Don't get me wrong - he has his views at times and can really dig in his heels (which makes me feel like strangling or clubbing that bad buaya) but I guess the smart fellow knows that with slightly over a month to the wedding, he would do well to preserve the peace and trust the judgement of the lady he calls his love. :D

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In just over a month's time...

A friend just uploaded pictures of her newborn baby boy on face-book - the 2nd friend to do so in the span of 2 days. It seems to me that all my friends have little kids or have just given birth to their first-born. Their face-book pictures are all of their kids or them and their kids. And 1 of the 2 colleagues I'm close to who is my age has just become a father.

I suspect it's a combination of all the babies in my face the past 2 days which made me wonder for the first time since we became a couple, how our baby would look like, feel like, be.

I never gave thought to that before, even during all this time we were engaged. We did discuss having kids of course and decided on the number we would have. But it never went beyond that (an abstract concept that would materialize somewhere down the road), or if it did, it was limited to how our lifestyles (mine in particular) would have to change to accommodate this.

My little sister once told me that 1 of the ways to tell that you really want to be with someone forever would be to ask yourself if you would be happy to have his kids, to want to have his kids. I've never felt that way about any of my past boyfriends before. Never. Not even the one whom I had been with for a decade. I loved him (or at least thought I did) but have his kids? Uh huh.

So I looked hard at my CEB today and asked myself if I wanted HIS kids. Or did I just want a kid because of all the recent baby pics I'd been seeing and my silent biological clock. I asked myself if I wanted to go through the trauma of childbirth, pregnancy and a changed lifestyle just to have a child who would carry this man's genes. A child who would inherit half his looks, his intelligence, his mannerisms, his habits etc. And then the hardest question - was my CEB the man I wanted as the father of children I would bear?

And the answer was yes. To confess, I'm surprised that an unromantic practical person like my CEB has succeeded so far in keeping my feet planted on the path to the altar, and even more astonished by his ability to make me feel the way I do about him. 1 year ago at this time, he was nothing more than just an ordinary friend, 1 of whom I felt at times I was so lucky not to be in a relationship with. Now, he makes me feel so blessed to have found this love we share, no matter how long it lasts.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thank you to all my readers

I was very surprised to receive this in the post a couple of days back because I don't blog for money. A little extra cash is of course nice to have but since I've earned all of SGD 2.59 from Nuffnang from the day this blog was started (I just checked the sum again b4 this entry), I've never really pinned my hopes for a brighter future on blogging.

However, thanks to Google Adsense and to all of you faithful readers and passerbys in the cyberworld who have clicked on the advertisements running on my blog, I have a better tomorrow, if not a brighter future. With the SGD Nine Dollars (S$9) I have earned since Oct 2010 from Google Adsense, I will be able to buy 3 bowls of my favourite mee pok from the market near my work place for 3 of my readers or a couple of MacDonald lunches for 2 of my readers. Choice is a wonderful thing. So thank you all again.

On a more serious note, how much I earn out of advertisements doesn't really matter. I blog for me. This is what has sustained this blog all this while. If I blog for a target audience or to get paid, it becomes a job. And I already have a very busy full time job which occupies a huge chunk of my waking hours. This blog is where I go to to write to de-stress - a time for myself to muse, reflect, stone and sometimes, just to remember the good things I have had the opportunity to experience and therefore review. It is in short, therapeutic and I cannot possibly say a big enough thank you to those of you who read (and click heh) this slog's blog

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Flying to Indy and Sheraton Indianapolis City Center Hotel

After 15 hours, my flight from SG to LA touched down at LAX. Although I had 2 connecting flights to my final destination, Indianapolis, I had to go through customs and get my luggage bag off the conveyor belt because LA was my port of entry. I took about an hr to clear customs which is considered relatively fast - there was a lady who had a connecting flight in half an hour to San Fran and she had to ask the pp around if they would let her go ahead. That is the reason why I prefer having as few connecting flights as possible when travelling - either one cuts it too close or one ends up sitting around in transit.

In any case, because all the flights from SG to NY were full that weekend, I had a 5 hour wait in LA before my 3 hour flight to O'Hare airport (Chicago) at 11pm. And that red-eye flight was full and perhaps overbooked because the airlines made a couple of announcements asking if anyone was prepared to give up their seat on this flight for a seat on the next flight out in the morning in exchange for cash vouchers and a free hotel stay.

After touching down in O'Hare about 5 in the morning, I had another hour's wait before my flight to Indy, by which time I had finished watching all the cartoons on the ipod touch and was feeling dirty, gritty-eyed and tired from all the transits and flights. In fact, I felt so lousy I swore that I would not fly out any more to Indy unless compelled to do so. However, just like there is a silver lining to every dark cloud, I got to see a really impressive sight from the airplane's window - the lights of Chicago taken from the plane - pretty impressive, isn't it?

After an hour or so up in the air, I reached my final destination. Finally. Indy's airport is large, spanking new, clean and spacious with quite a number of shops, a pleasant contrast to the tired-looking terminals at LAX.

My boss told me that downtown Indy is built outwards from the town's circle center, the very center of which is erected this very tall sculpture.

1 of the largest shopping malls in downtown Indy is the Circle Center Mall - it has my favorite shops like Bath&Body Works, Coach, Victoria Secret and 2 departmental stores - Nordstrom and Carrie Pine Scott. The former store carries high-end goods (including more Coach stuff) while the latter is a bargain-hunter's dream come true. I kid you not - I managed to get a CK suit for just USD40, 70% off its original price.

As there was a firefighters' convention that week, most of the hotels in downtown Indy were fully booked. Fortunately, I managed to secure a room at the hotel of my choice: Sheraton City Center Hotel for 3 of the 4 nights I was in Indy. The reason for choosing this hotel was because it was a stone's throw to my offices and I could walk there easily every day instead of depending on public transport. Also, because I have the SPG gold card, I get a complimentary upgrade if a better room is available. This time around, I was upgraded to a suite on the 15th floor.

Above and below are some pictures of the room - the suite was large enough that it made me regret not having any travelling companions with me to enjoy the place. There was a separate living room and even a mini-kitchenette area!

However, the best bit about the suite was the plushy bed in the bedroom stacked with 4 pillows.

I didn't take any pictures of the bathroom which was rather smallish (but had a tub) but only of the rather spacious bedroom. Although the colors of the carpet and curtain leave much to be desired (dark blue which had a dirty cramping effect), having a couple of 40 inch TVs in the living room and the bedroom, as well as a work desk made me feel that I could live in the hotel room quite happily for a month or more.

The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. There are many good hotels in downtown Indy like Conrad, Hyatt and Marriott which are more centrally located (connected to the shopping mall and convention center) and probably able to give Sheraton City Center hotel a good run for its money. This hotel does not have free broadband and wifi is only available in the lobby area. The elevators are spacious enough and run very quickly between floors but the color scheme of the hotel makes one feel as if it were rather run-down. It is a decent place to stay all in all though with a convenience store around the corner and a bus stop (IndyGo from the airport stops there) right in front of the hotel.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Completing the wedding mass book

Sometimes I marvel at how much can be done in so short a time. Right after work yesterday, I made my way to the hair salon my sister had recommended at Telok Ayer and emerged almost a hundred dollars poorer and looking pretty much, the same. The haircut took 5mins - really. My sister is well-meaning of course but I need to remember how different our lives are and that what works for her would not work for me or my pocket. Hah.

After the haircut, I walked to the nearby market to buy dinner for us. The first time in almost a year that I've bought dinner "home" to have with another person. To tell you the truth, while I joked later with my CEB that I felt like an Ah Soh buying dinner home, even this simple act of buying and having dinner with him at his house, had me a little freaked out because it was something new and a step forward on the intimacy scale.

While I am excited and very happy to be marrying my CEB, I am also very scared. From past experience, the 2 months before the wedding is when the panic sets in. Panic and irrational fear, not just pre-wedding jitters. Thinking about the wedding makes my hands and feet break out in cold sweat literally. However, my CEB has been able to keep me on the path to the altar with his love, humor, patience and friendship. He makes this whole process easier most times, and I think because I love him, seeing him happy and excited about us being together, in turn makes me happy and excited too. Positive reinforcement both ways :)

In fact, I would say my CEB has made me happy enough to do some parts of the wedding preparation by myself - like putting together our wedding mass book using templates from friends and the parish church priest. I didn't feel alone doing this by myself on a Sat afternoon when he was travelling. I didn't feel resentment when he later said he would just leave it all to me without even looking at the draft form.

I think it is because I have faith that my CEB loves me very much and he will not let me down. I believe he will participate whole heartedly so that the wedding mass to bless our marriage will be one of the precious memories that he and I will have many years later down the road. When my CEB is so generous in giving to me willingly my desire to have a church wedding despite our different religions, it makes me look at him with newfound respect and love him all the more.

Even though we both once agreed that a wedding was just a process, an event that should be gotten over and done with, for me, after the Engaged Encounter weekend and completing the wedding mass book, a wedding has become more than just that - It is a public declaration that we both have chosen each other out of all the people in this whole wide world to be with for the rest of our life. It is our taking an oath before (for me) God and all the people in our lives, that we will be united as one and committed to each other for better or for worse. It is the culmination of our journey together as a couple - a statement to each other and the world at large that we will be sharing our lives, the good and the bad parts, with each other, and to take the other into our life to honor and to cherish.

It is really, our chance to create and build something beautiful and lasting together. And I pray with all my heart that God will grant my CEB and I, the time and opportunity to be able to do just that.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hard Rock Cafe in Indianapolis

I noticed that there was a Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Indianapolis when my boss was giving me a ride back to the hotel after work. I didn't even know there was a HRC in the town because one really doesn't have the opportunity to see places other than the airport, office and hotel room when travelling for work. So right after I dumped my laptop and files in the hotel room, I took a 15min stroll to the HRC which was located near a Borders that was closing down.

I am not a HRC fan as I've said before but I had a craving for steak (which is what the mid-west is famous for) that evening and I figured I couldn't go too far wrong with the well-established HRC. As I was pretty early (about 6.30pm when I got there), the bar and restaurant area was relatively empty and I was served very promptly by the friendly servers after I had made my first ever HRC purchase - a fridge magnet in the shape of a guitar with the word HRC Indy on it.

Even though the weather was chilly, all the walking had made me thirsty so I started the meal with a vanilla milkshake that came in a very unique-shaped glass which I bought just by paying an additional USD2 more. The milkshake came with whipped cream on top (oh horror of horrors for some1 who really doesn't need the additional calories) and chicken me didn't dare to ask for the cream to be removed as I should have done b4 it was served. So I decided to drink from the bottom and leave the cream. But like with all good intentions that pave the road to hell, I not only finished each drop of the rich creamy frothy milky vanilla shake, I also slurped up all of the whipped cream. Did I regret putting on my hips all that good stuff that went pass my lips? No Sir. The milkshakes in this HRC simply rocks.

I was done with the menu in all of 5 mins - How could anyone resist ordering an entree that is described like this:A USDA choice 21-day-aged, center-cut, 12 oz. New York strip steak grilled to your liking and topped with Merlot-garlic butter. Served with White Cheddar smashed potatoes, gravy and fresh vegetables. Here is a picture of my New York Strip Tease which I ordered medium-well-done.

The Slog Reviews: 10/10. I can't find fault with the beef and if pressed to do so, the only negative thing is that the portion was so huge I had trouble finishing it towards the end. The meat was a huge slab of gastronomical pleasure that had me closing my eyes while relishing each morsel of tender beef that oozed just the right amount of rich flavor. The meat was so tender that I wouldn't call the mastication process chewing...more of pressing the meat between one's teeth to feel it give way oh so gently, to feel it melt in the mouth. Not bloody, not burnt - I don't know how they manage to do such a fine job of their steak. I couldn't finish the mashed potato that came with the beef despite my best efforts but from however much I managed to stuff in my tummy, I'll tell you that the mashed potato is awesome too. The rich dark gravy makes this side dish a perfect complement to the beef. Solid unforgettable stuff.

I am now an official HRC fan - if the beef in their SG branch is that good, they are going to get one more regular patron! (So who wants to go have dinner at HRC SG with me sometime soon?)
In any case, if you are ever go to downtown Indianapolis while travelling in the good old Midwest, do drop by 49 South Meridian which is open till midnight most days of the week. Click here for more information and the menu!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Notice

I met my CEB this evening after meeting my beloved ex-boss to give her a birthday card and present - the poor guy was sniffing and coughing away, one of the few times I've seen this strong man of mine ill, which of course softened my heart despite my best resolve to hold him at an arm's length (Once bitten, twice shy). He usually is in the best of health (despite eating everything unhealthy under the sun like fried chicken ) which is probably the reason I actually felt "heart-pain" to hear him sound so sick (his voice changed totally).

I guess if my feelings for him had been deadened totally, we would be having The Talk this evening . But since my CEB was still able to tug at my heartstrings (his being ill helped (him) loads here), we didn't have The Talk. We didn't like kiss and make up like some fairy-tale story either. I guess you could say he must have been doing some thinking on his end and he had decided to do what was right, for the sake of our relationship. Which I am extremely grateful to him for - his choosing to be responsible, his choosing US (Oh don't get me wrong, there isn't any third party involved). And with his decision, he became the man I fell in love with, you know, all the good things I wrote about him in this entry (click here to read).

My CEB is usually a reasonable, rational, careful and responsible man, which is why it puzzles, saddens and disappoints me deeply when he acts irresponsibility or takes a course of action that might jeopardize what he has, what we have. I know he isn't perfect, that he makes mistakes like everyone of us does, that he is entitled to moments of madness where he says or does things that doesn't make sense. But I know that if I choose him as my husband, just as he has chosen to make me his wife, I have to respect him and his decisions, keep the faith and believe in his better nature. All I ask is for him to make it easier for me to do all of that, just as how he has made it so easy to love him and to stay in love with him.

Anyway, long story short, we spent some really good quality time together in the evening - talking, reconnecting and kind of exchanging presents. I didn't buy for him very much from America (esp compared to what I bought for myself - see here) - just a Planet Hollywood T-shirt, CK shirt, couple of CK ties, two pairs of shoes and multivitamins (I have to keep my CEB healthy!). But I am very pleased with what he gave me - a cap and t-shirt from Hard Rock Cafe Copenhagen. I have been to so many places around the world without bothering to buy stuff from the HRCs there but since the great experience I had in the HRC at Indianapolis (which I will blog about next), I have become a HRC fan. It is just my misfortune to forget to buy something from the HRC in New York which I had bypassed more than once while at Times Square - shopping kinda takes up all my brain's bandwidth.

We spent quite a bit of time talking about the upcoming nuptials. Sometimes I think I underestimate how supportive my CEB can be - like when I was telling him that there was so much to be done, instead of brushing me off like he sometimes does with comments like "ah, why you bother?" I was pleasantly surprised by his reply of "Then we have to find the time to do it". His positive and supportive attitude is just the perfect counter-balance to keep "think-too-much, worry-too-much" negative me, grounded.

We also talked about where to go for our honeymoon - previously we had agreed on Japan and USA but for obvious and tragic reasons, the former option is a no-go and the latter isn't viable because I am travelling to Brazil instead of USA this year September. My CEB said Sept and Oct will be busy months for him at work (*Worried) but I do hope that we would be able to build happy memories together in Brazil just as we have done in all our other holidays (see below picture), esp since marriage is just once in a lifetime, like a honeymoon is :)

In any case, we got something concrete done in the evening - we filed The Notice together at his place. Or rather, he sat there most seriously pecking away at his little netbook while I peered over his shoulder and watched. Hah. It is a treat to watch my CEB being so serious because that seldom happens! And, it is great to have your other half be at your side through each step of the wedding preparation!

A bad dream and thoughts about my CEB

Funny how a really bad dream can stay with you even after you wake up. I woke up this morning recalling each detail of a horrible dream that I had - I think it is borne out of 3 factors
(a) the msn conversation that I had with my CEB yesterday afternoon,
(b) writing out the mass for our wedding yesterday afternoon, and
(c) all the over-eating and partying I had at RWS in the evening.

As I had mentioned earlier, we both have been travelling for work for abt 2 weeks each (but 1 week apart) - he to Europe and I to America. So we haven't seen each other for 3 weeks. And we haven't really talked either during that time -partly because of the time zone difference but primarily (at least for me) because of an extremely bad quarrel that we had b4 I flew off. The quarrel was so bad that I haven't managed to find it in my heart to feel the same way I felt about him and us before the quarrel. That is the thing about quarrels with me - it depletes the love bank account that I draw from to give to my partner.

And from my past experiences, I know the beginning of the end is when I rather be myself than spend time with the other person. It is the first sign that the love bank account is near zero balance. I withdraw not to punish the other person - firstly because that is childish and spiteful, secondly because we are not our partner's parent and so it isn't our position to punish our partner. It is just that I no longer see the point of engaging and investing my time, effort and heart when all I receive in return is hurt and disappointment. No one likes to be let down, esp by those they love. What we quarreled about isn't a deal breaker to the relationship - not like cheating or violence - but it really really hurt me and damaged more than my CEB knows. I guess it will take time to heal, as things will eventually. But as we all know, a vase that is shattered and put together will never look the same as it did before breaking apart.

So anyway, the dream. I knew my CEB was due to come back this morning from our msn convo yesterday afternoon. I dreamed that I received a call from him after he had gone to see the doctor (he said he was coughing) and he told me he wanted to have more time with his friends, which of course as I am in real life, more happy for him to do than not. Then he told me that he had Stage 1 Liver Cancer. I kid you not. I don't even know what Stage 1 means (got to google it after I finish this entry) -is it the end stage or the first stage? Anyway in my dream, my legs gave way and I couldn't breathe. Cancer? Liver? How the hell? How does my mind even come up with such shit. In the dream,I was thinking our wedding would be just 2 months away and this had to happen but there was no doubt in my mind that I would still marry him.

The thing is, I still love my CEB (and I'm praying he doesn't do anything further to destroy whatever love is left). Unlike my previous engagement where the health of my partner mattered to me, my CEB's health is irrelevant...kinda like unconditional love. But in my dream, I hated myself for allowing him to sit on what we said we would do which is to look at the insurance policies. I don't need the money, I want him to have the money to get better. I would, as in my dream, give him every damn cent I have for treatment, for just a day longer to live. But I know there is a limit to how much money we both have and so, having made him buy the insurance policies sooner would really have helped him.

And that is when I woke up - regrets (of not asking him to buy the insurance policies sooner) fresh in my heart. I hate these kind of regrets - when you know that you could have done something to save the situation, and you did not. It would be the kind of regret that my CEB would have if he knew I was, for example, taking pills which were unsafe for my health, but not putting down a firm foot to stop me. And then me getting, say, kidney failure from eating those pills. I think if he had a heart for me, he would not be able to live with himself for not forcing me to stop what I was doing. But of course if he didn't have a heart for me, he would say that was my choice. But either way, if we were married, no matter who he blamed, a dead/dying partner would be what he would be left with and that isn't a very attractive option.

Sigh. I don't know what to make of this dream but I do know I have to go to church in less than 15mins so I better get changed and fall on my knees and pray - to surrender what is not within my control to a higher power to take care of.

A tribute to the most wonderful person I know

April 10 is a very special day. It is The day that God saw it fit to bless this world with one of the few genuinely good people.

There are so few people I thank the good Lord for and this person whom He has blessed my life so richly with is just 1 of the 2 people in the world that I couldn't raise a gun to my head fast enough for if my death would mean their survival.

Those who know me well would know who I am referring to in this entry - my beloved ex-boss of course. Who else do I put on a pedestal and worship, who else really, would I say "when and how high" if they said jump to me? A team mate travelling with us for the China project commented that the way I looked at my beloved ex-boss was if she walked on water and that she wouldn't be surprised if I traded my life for hers if our plane was ever hijacked. As my momma would say, I kind of wear my feelings on my sleeve.

When my beloved ex-boss went on long medical leave last year, I was shocked at how much I missed her - it was literally a physical pain, a dull clenching in the chest. And I averted my eyes every time I walked pass her room door because the pain of knowing she wasn't sitting there would be too much.

Yeah, you could say I am in love with her. I have told her that I love her. She gets what I mean without my having to explain - there aren't any romantic or sexual feelings whatsoever, no dreams of being with her etc - my love for my beloved ex-boss is different from the type of love I have for my family members or partners, it is the highest purest love - adoration.

She can do no wrong in my eyes. She is everything I want to be one day. If you know her, you will know why - she is sharp, intelligent, reasonable, fair, compassionate, calm, wise and she has integrity.

She gave me everything I had the past 4 and a 1/2 years and also, what I have today - this new job with its non too shabby pay, my technical skills, my confidence and even my relationships. She didn't hand these to me on a platter, she gave me positive encouragement, opportunities, provided guidance and direction (esp when it came to focusing, and priorities) and was a living example of what is right and good. She grounds me, anchors my thoughts, my infallible lighthouse as I sail through the storms.

I carry my beloved ex-boss in my heart. Truly. And this made me realize that carrying someone in your heart is really more than recalling that person or the memories you had. It is as if she is near, with me, in me - that is why I never had the need to go look for her, meet her, see her. She has never left me, nor I, her. Time and distance have not dulled my feelings for her, not one bit. I don't even need pictures to remember her or to evoke any memories because she is so alive in my mind's eye - I can see her face, her expression, her warm eyes, her beautiful face, I can even hear her voice. When my present life overwhelms me or gets me down, thinking of her and asking myself what she would have said or done soothes me, grounds me.

I have that much trust in her. Because I have never met anyone else my whole life, who has done no wrong in my eyes, who has never disappointed me, hurt me, let me down or done something which is no good for me. I believe whatever she says, does whatever she tells me to do because from past experience, I am willing to stake my life that she would never hurt me, betray me or let me down. For I know she cares for me, for I know more certainly than my first name, that her advice to me is always driven by her thinking what is best for me. I may not like what she asks of me sometimes, I may even dread the things she asks me to do, but I do as she asks at the end of the day. Of course I do ask her for the reasons some times, particularly when it is something I don't want to do, and she always looks me in the eye and tell me why I have to do it in a clear calm manner. Well, I guess she knows I would never deny her anything at the end of the day and all I am looking for is a reason to overcome my reluctance.

The backbone of my love for her is made up of respect and complete trust. All of which she never had to ask or demand for. Even in her position of authority over me. This is a love that has made me stronger and inspires me to be a better person.

So yes, April 10 is a very important day for me and which I will dedicate yearly for the rest of my life, to this wonderful human being I know. Happy Birthday to you my beloved ex-boss! May you be blessed with all you have given, good health and wealth.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Silver Kris Lounge at T3 and Biz Class on SQ to LA

This is the first time I've been to the Silver Kris Lounge at Terminal 3.

And the variety and quality of food and drinks there was simply amazing. It made me regret that we just had a really expensive "Parents meet Parents with Matchmaker" lunch at Crystal Jade just before my flight out to LA.

Nonetheless, because I had nothing to do for the 1hr before flying out, I got myself a diet coke, some cha soba and other light desserts to enjoy while soaking in the ambiance and reflecting (on my life as usual).

Well, because I had indicated my default seat preference as an aisle seat, I ended up seated next to an elderly gentleman instead of having my own individual seat by the window. Hence, all the photos I took this flight were with my trusty Sony Ericsson W995 phone instead of a camera.

Now, there is a vast difference between flying business class and economy - and I mean, vast. The last time I flew economy on SQ was to Melbourne the first week of Feb this year so comparing the 2 was easy - to start with, not only the seats and entertainment screen 2 times wider and more plushy (very much like the GV Cinema Gold Class seats), even the hand-sets below are different - this one shows the flight time left to the destination, and even how far one is into a movie.

About 2 hours into the flight, it was dinnertime and we were served local satay for starters.

Followed by shrimp salad which I washed down with pineapple juice. I thought the satay and salad were both amazingly tasty for airplane food.

But they were nothing compared to the main course - I had the cod fish with lobster bits in creamy sauce and asparagus. And, it was so absolutely tender, fresh, creamy and delicious that I was ready to die happy after experiencing this culinary pleasure. I kid you not.

But of course I didn't die. I had two (yeah, I shameless asked for another) bowls of Haagan Dazz ice-cream which came with nuts and some sort of a sweet biscuit-like wafer thing. After that, on a full stomach and completely satiated, I watched movies and went to bed (the chair folds down into a full length bed).

In the morning (because of the time-difference this was supposed to be our lunch), we were once again plied with food of the Gods. Like this starter for example - huge succulent scallops with cold streaked bacon.

I had beef as the main course and you know, given how more than 10 hours had passed since we took off, I was totally amazed by how soft and tender the meat was instead of cold and hard. SQ's business class food is truly superb.

I ended my meal with some lime cheesecake but that was really like eating solidified sweetened fats so I didn't eat too much of that. There was quite a wide variety of drinks available throughout the entire flight as well as light snacks like Lays potato chips, small packets of Amos chocolate chip biscuits, and even fish porridge if one wanted something more substantial.

You know, in 1 of my first few posts this year 2011, (click here to read), I did say that my job change would mean a change in the life that I have always known. And indeed it has given me opportunities and experiences that I otherwise would never have had - from going to Melbourne in February and then to the Midwest and New York in March. Because I am a firm believer that tomorrow is never a given right, I am just grateful to have the chance to enjoy each good thing that comes my way, including the chance to fly biz class on SQ non-stop to LA and non-stop back from New York.

The Way Back (2011) Movie

I don't know why this movie came to mind while driving to work this morning and listening to songs by Casting Crown. It was the next movie that I caught right after watching The Fighter on the way back from New York and a good summary of the movie can be found here. The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. This movie is a testimony to the resilence and will of the human spirit to survive against the odds. Although the plot was straightforward - prisoners escaping a camp in Siberia and trekking by foot over snow, desert and land over 4000 miles all the way to India and dying 1 after the another till only 3 were left, the pace of the movie was excellent. I felt like I was following their journey through the snow blizzards and the desert storm (which finished off the young girl and another of the prisoners) - rejoicing when they did (in finding water) and despairing as they did when there was no water, much less food.

Now that I've typed this, I think I know what triggered the memory of this movie - the song "Praise you in this Storm" by Casting Crowns which was the 2nd track on the CD. This was the only song that gave me comfort through the darkest days of my life just 3 years ago when I was trying to reconcile myself to the loss of my entire future, hopes and dreams which I had stupidly based and built on just 1 fallible human being. It really isn't anything like the physical hardship that the characters in this movie faced but emotional anguish requires just the same amount of faith and hope to get through too "...I raise my hands and praise, the God who gives and takes away".

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

D{vers{ty

I had a full day training session (which means the pile in my inbox just grew larger - sigh!) today and it turned out to be one of the better in-house training courses that I've ever attended.

While I have fond memories and am proud of my previous company, working in this company which is a MNC and has values very much aligned to my personal own ones (or at least those I strive to have) means that I am constantly challenged and reminded to be a more rounded individual.

I've known that 1 of the core values of this company is d{ver{ty but I always thought that it meant being accepting and tolerant of cultural and racial differences, especially since this company is global and hires pp from all walks of life. However, today I learnt that this word means more than than just that from an organisational perspective. And I also learnt about why d{vers{ty is so critical to the survival of our company - because from d{vers{ty brings innovation which in turn creates profitability. I also learnt about the 3 stages of growth and development - accretion, replication and mutuality and the risks of being resistant to change and d{vers{ty.

Other parts of the course also spoke to me - like when the trainer said that the company pays us monthly, 100% of what we had agreed with the co to be paid, but some of us do not deliver the 100% scope of work that we had committed to doing monthly. And like when the trainer asked us to choose between various types of reward and I was the only 1 in the group of participants who chose a 2 week paid leave instead of cash rewards - it wasn't just that the cash reward was less than half a month's pay for me - 2 weeks leave - but I also became aware of my shifting priorities - the importance of time which cannot be purchased, over money which can be earned.

So, I thought I'll end this entry by sharing a quote that impressed me, a quote from a futurist Joel Barker : Our true nature has never been to stay where we belong but to go where we become.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Shopping Heaven - Macy's and Fifth Avenue in New York

My one check-in bag weighed 15kg when I flew off. After all the shopping in Indiana, that one check-in bag weighed 35kg. AND, after all the shopping in New York, I had two check-in bags, 1 which was 29inch and weighed 25kg and the other which was 32inch and weighed 28kg. 53kg minus 15kg = 38kg worth of shopping, and a new Samsonite bag to boot (the 29inch). Go me.

A large part of my purchase consisted of footwear - this is how much footwear I bought in New York (save for 1 pair from Indy) and brought home. The ones in the top row all belong to me - from the left, 2 Ferragamos and 5 Coach. The ones in the bottom row belong to my sister and mum - from the left, 1 Louboutin, 1 Chanel, 2 Coach (these are my gifts to my mum) and 1 Chanel - the cost of my sister's 1 pair of Louboutin shoes is just slightly lesser than the cost of all my shoes. If you count the cost of her 2 Chanel footwear, these are like 30% more than the cost of my shoes so yeah, I had a good time shopping, - "swiping my card" for what items that never would be mine and feeling well, high on spending. Thanks Sis :)

New York is a "shopaholic"'s dream come true - esp if one is into big names and fashion. Just perfect for my little sister who has more branded stuff than any person I know. I was totally floored when her boyfriend got her a pair of Louboutins last month which cost S$1400 - for something that goes on your feet and pound the ground, that's a hell lot of $. However, when I was at Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale's and Sak's shopping for my sister, I saw tons of Louboutins, Prada shoes, Chanel shoes, Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahnik on display or just lying around. The picture below taken at Bergdorf shows all Louboutin shoes at the forefront of the pic and Blahnik's in the middle. Shoes that are in the high hundreds to a few thousands (USD). And the ladies there snapped pairs of these without batting an eyelid twice.

My own shopping was confined largely to Macy's which was just one street away from my hotel along the same avenue. Macy's doesn't carry Ferragamo or Prada, much less Louboutins or Blahnik's. However, they have one of the widest range of Coach shoes and with the visitor card, I'm talking about a 10% savings which really helps given the tax rate in NY for non-clothes item is a whopping 8.875%. Macy's is really huge but the layout is such that the women stuff are found in one building/annex while the men's stuff on another so ladies can have uninterrupted shopping pleasure without having to look at men's stuff. Macy's has clearance racks and items less 30 - 70% so it is possible to find some really good buys (I didn't).

Fifth Avenue in New York is the equivalent of Singapore's Orchard shopping belt. Fifth is the shopping belt and Saks at Fifth Avenue is one of the premium department stores, a class up from the above-mentioned Macy's. No clearance racks of course, and when I asked if the items there ever went on discount, the saleslady gave me The Look and mentioned something about friends and family day - tourists however do not get any discounts whatsoever.

While strolling along Fifth Avenue, I took some pictures of the unique-looking buildings where well-known brands had set up shop and presence, such as Cartier below.

And of course, Trump Tower which was open to the public (up to the fourth level where there is a public garden) and has a store on the entrance level selling all sorts of Trump stuff, like neckties and even a teddy bear with a Trump T-shirt. The bears were seriously cute and only prudence stopped me from bringing one back home with me (Trump is 1 of my heros).

Some other unique buildings along Fifth Avenue such as the one below which has three gold statues as part of its facade - I adore pearls (much less Mikimoto pearls!) and like diamonds, they are a wild extravagance - existing purely to give pleasure through their beauty.

But seeing and day-dreaming costs nothing and I guess that is part of the appeal of window shopping at Fifth Avenue. There is of course the infamous LV - I think this is the flagship store.

And I couldn't help stepping into F.A.O simply because I had seen this famous toy store featured in oh-so-many movies. I think this is a store that cannot be missed if one has children or has brought children to New York - the range of toys that one can find pleasure and amusement in for hours is enchantingly bewildering and the stuffed toys - talk about every size and type! Going into this store almost (just almost) made me wish I had a child of my own!

Bergdorf Goodman must be one of the classy and upmarket departmental stores I've ever come across - nothing like Macy's of course and even more, well, geared to the rich, than Saks is. According to 1 of Bloomingdale's salesman, Bergdorf has the widest range of Louboutins (Bloomie does not carry these even though it has Chanel, Prada and Ferragamo shoes).

While walking along, I also stumbled across The Plaza. I had recently watched Brides War and remembered how it was each girl's dream to be married at this hotel and even from a distance, I could see why. It looks mighty impressive, even when viewed from a distance and although I really would have loved to check it out, I couldn't make myself cross over because my legs were crying out in pain - I'd been walking all the way from 34th, mind! And my ultimate goal was to get to Bloomingdales which was on 59th!

Still, in any case, I made it to the fringe of the famous Central Park - someone told me that this was one of the "must-go" places in NYC and of course I'd heard of it before (given how often it is featured in the detective novels that I like) but I figured that going to Bloomingdale on 59th and Lexington was infinitely more important for a pseudo "shopaholic" like myself. Therefore, right after this picture, I turned my tired feet in the direction of Lexington Avenue...I tell you, I've never walked so much in my entire life in one day (I swear this is quite the truth) and the next day, I couldn't get out of bed till almost 11am!