Expectations…

are always something of an issue for me. Something that I grapple with, whether it is my expectations of people, or maybe others’ expectations of me. We are all selfish to a certain extent, and as much as we try to think that we do not want to have expectations of people, it isn’t realistic to think so. In a way, we can manage it in a way that we have different levels of expectations of different groups of people in our lives. Perhaps we can do without too much expectations of friends because as it is, expectations of family and partners can already be overwhelming. But when a certain group becomes a major part of your life, it is hard to be without expectations of them, or them of you.

We do not want to have to deal with others’ expectations of us, and we do not want to need to live up to these expectations, but secretly do we expect our expectations of others to be lived out and lived up to? Confusing much?

I guess friends are always a big part of my life, since young. It isn’t that I do not have a happy or complete family but somehow, friends have always featured rather prominently in my life from my school days, and I am always too affected by them for my own good. I have perhaps unrealistic expectations of them that cannot be achieved somewhat to an acceptable level and so I end up always feeling some kind of disappointment. At the very least, I would say, expect people I count as friends to remember my birthday and wish me happy birthday, yes you would think this is something very frivolous but yet it is something I treasure. I do think it is the thought that counts, and as much as these days we don’t really receive presents anymore, the simple thought of being remembered by someone, just a simple “Happy Birthday” is enough for me. There are of course those who go the extra mile to give me a birthday treat, or buy me a cake with a candle, these are appreciated definitely but they aren’t mandatory. I try to do something for people around me as well on their special days, and even though it isn’t right to think of the need to reciprocate and be reciprocated, friendship is very much a 2-way traffic, no?

Still, I suppose there are people who choose not to want to have expectations of friends or so they say. But to a certain extent, I think it is just self-delusion. Or perhaps there is a different connotation and understanding of just what counts as expectations.

OK. End thought process. End transmission.

Happy birthday!

So without much fanfare as per the norm these days, my birthday came and went. It was such a typical day, going to work… just that I got the afternoon off and went off to meet my sis(-in-law) for lunch.

What are birthdays without cakes, especially when I have developed a sweet tooth somewhere along the way over these years.

This wasn’t a birthday cake. In fact, I got this for my friend (and also for myself to try) when I visited her at her home while she was recuperating from a surgery. It’s a new cake offered by Starbucks, a Coconut cream sponge cake, that was surprisingly quite nice, to me. Perhaps because it’s meant to be a sponge cake after all, it didn’t feel dense and heavy, and the coconut scent/taste wasn’t too strong or overpowering. I didn’t really take the cream that much so I can’t comment how good or bad it is. But overall, it’s pretty alright and good for sharing, as always!This was a real birthday cake. Ahead of my birthday, and also my bro’s, who has his birthday in this month too, my eldest bro and sis-in-law took us out for lunch one balmy Sunday afternoon, and surprised us after a hearty and comforting local delights lunch with these 2 slices of birthday cakes topped with candles! This was the one and only candle that I blew out this year. The food we had was good, it had a rather authentic ‘wok hei’ to it, and the cakes were also delicious. Maybe it was made even better because of the thoughts behind and enjoying the special moment as the birthday girl.šŸ™‚Not a cake, but there’s still ‘cake’, i.e. Korean seafood pancake. Haha. Met a friend for dinner and she was having a craving for Korean food so off to a Korean eatery we went! The food was yummy, whether it’s the main or the ban-chan. I loved the japchae, even if it was a little oily but perhaps that was what made it so good! The portion was so generous for it being called an ‘appetiser’ or ‘starter’ so thankfully I didn’t order any main. With the ban-chan, the japchae and the pancake, I think I was already stuffed but yet I couldn’t resist not cleaning up whatever I could because the food was just too good (imho) and I hate wasting. As much as I possibly could.So when I met sis for lunch on the actual day, she brought me to U-town and we had lunch at a bistro. Even though we went fairly late for lunch, the place was still packed. But with the luxury of time that afternoon, we could afford to sit around and by the time we were done with our mains, the place already sort of cleared out and we could enjoy our cakes and coffee in peace while having a nice chat.

The carrot cake that we ordered wasn’t as good as we had hoped or expected it to be. But oh well, we can’t really tell if it’s good just based on looks. It had a rather flat taste and the sponge part felt a tad too dry and hard. But the apple crumble tart was good though! Sis commentedĀ that the carrot cake carried more cinnamon than the apple tart but I thought the taste came from the spiced apples within the tart. Anyhow, we really enjoyed the tart and it was a great and relaxing way to spend the afternoon.So that summed up my birthday celebration, if you would even consider it as a celebration. I suppose that as time passes and we age, birthdays become less of an event and quieter. We don’t need to be surrounded with people to celebrate our birthdays, or huge and noisy parties. That was never really my thing anyway. Quiet one-on-one or family gatherings are preferred because these are the people who matter anyway.šŸ™‚

How about this alternative?

Somewhere along the way, I dreamt a dream –Ā to work in a cafe. Not as an owner since I don’t harbour lofty dreams of a proprietor, but just as an employee, calling that role a barista, service crew or what-have-you. In a place like Singapore, unfortunately, it isn’t a ‘dream’ that is quite practical or realistic. It isn’t that this can’t be a full-time, permanent job but it requires a great deal of adjustment in many aspects.

SB_path

Being someone who has worked in the corporate sector for more than ten years post-graduation, in an air-conditioned office sitting at a desk for the most part of the day, it would definitely be a big change if I were to say, become a service crew at a cafe. Type of work aside, which instead of facing the computer screen all the time to facing people, customers, who can range from nice to nasty (which is not so different from people we encounter in our corporate working lives, but sometimes with more complicated characters and situations thrown in the mix), it also means a lot of changes that need to be made to adjust to the possibly big gap that will result from the pay differences.

I know it isn’t impossible. It’s just like how I often relate stories of friends who have become SAHM, where the family becomes a single-income household, that it is not impossible to cut back and cut down. There are of course the more well-to-do ones who even with a single income, they are still able to enjoy a fairly good and above-average lifestyle, including luxurious shopping treats and vacations. Then there are those who just make do with what they have already been blessed with, and limit family outings to local excursions.

With financial commitments just inked in the recent years, and without proper planning for the near and longer medium term, it will be a hard choice to make, which at this juncture, could jolly well mean a point of no return. Yet it is often said that, if you don’t try, you will never know. So then, it again goes back to the choice. To do or not to do. It really depends on how ‘adventurous’ one’s character is to throw caution to the wind and follow the heart?

Hello.

It’s been more than a month since I last updated. Like I mentioned sometime ago, blogging sometimes feel like a chore. It’s again one of those things that I had taken for granted; something that I used to find a breeze, and enjoyable, has now become tedious. There is still a lot that I would love to write about, to share, but to articulate these thoughts and put them into this virtual space, is becoming a drag. It is easier to do so on other platforms, micro-blogging if you would call them. Even then, it still proves to be a bit of an effort.

Where I have fallen short of here, I do bits and pieces of it through micro-blogging and Instagram.

Went and came back from a one-week trip to Tokyo. It went by in a blur even though I didn’t have any itinerary, and for the number of days I was there, I actually went to fewer places than I did on most other past trips. It is always good to have a change of scenery, even if I am doing the same things that I do when I’m back home here. The frame and state of mind areĀ just different and it makes the whole experience different somewhat.

As I continue to deal with various issues in my life, whether to tackle them or to get them sorted out, let’s hope that at some point in time, I can get back on track, or maybe, who cares about coming back on track if I can embark on a brand new and better track? I can only pray and hope so.

The journey of thoughts

It is not news that I generally am someone who is dissatisfied with many things in life. It’s a given that complaining is a national past-time, and me being a true-blue Singaporean, am also wont to complain all the time. It ranges from day-to-day trivial issues like crowded trains (what’s new), to slightly more serious matters like future plans. Well, the latter is relative, because to me that isn’t trivial but to another person it doesn’t mean a thing.

Anyway, I have always been told to learn to practice gratitude, appreciate what I have in life instead of being a chronic complainer. It is definitely something easier said than done, since being caught in the moment, sometimes it is just easier to vent and play the role of a victim. It is easier to blame the whole world for everything that went wrong, rather than to quiet the mind and consider all the other possibilities that could have been worse off, breathe and move on.

Recently, I have been trying harder than ever, to be appreciative. It is a journey no doubt, but I hope I will be able to proceed in a positive direction. I still am not happy with my life and every circumstance that have led to where I am today. I can complain till the cows come home and frown at every single item that I feel has caused me to envy another person.

But then, comparisons usually lead us nowhere. Sure, they may spur us to improve and probably at some point they will, but raising the quality of one’s life, is something that should be intrinsically-motivated rather than because we see something that we want to have just because someone else has them. Besides, envy and jealousy are hardly desirable feelings since they only leave you feeling bitter with another person or yourself.

And I also try to resolve to move on, move forward. We are all told not to look back too much, for the past has been cast in history and looking back and reminiscing on the good times can create a warm feeling, although sometimes these are felt on hindsight. But looking back and regretting what was done or not, leading to unhappiness, serves no purpose.

So what is the point of this post really? Nothing much other than to serve as a reminder to myself of what I thought I ought to do. It may be incoherent by some accounts but it’s just a way of ‘verbalising’ my thoughts and putting these ruminations into words. I’m just glad that Monday is almost over. More the next time…

Downsides of technology

Much has been lauded about technology and I won’t deny that its development has brought so many benefits to modern life, some that I can’t imagine being without. But we have probably heard and known enough about all the good things that technology has delivered so it’s really meaningless to continue praising it here.

Technology has its downsides as well, which many of us probably also know and acknowledge. By doing so, it doesn’t mean that I’m deploring technology or being unappreciative of the convenience enjoyed as a result of technology. It just means that perhaps we have to be mindful of it, and understand that technology should be a means, something like a slave, rather than master, of our lives.

Too often, I have witnessed and experienced, social situations such as gatherings, dinners or the likes, where instead of engaging the people seated face-to-face with them, people are busily tapping away at their smart phone screens, whether scrolling through Facebook news feeds, Whatsapping their friends, checking their emails, or otherwise. It is absolutely pointless that a group are seated physically together at a table yet their minds and focuses are elsewhere. Kudos to technology for enabling us to communicate with people across geographic locations, obliterating the distances in-between. Yet we can’t fault technology but how human behaviour has evolved to lack the consideration of “face-time”. Sometimes I have been exasperated enough to ask pointedly at my lunch/coffee/dinner partners if the issue is so urgent that their digital conversations have to take precedence over the face-to-face chats. Mostly, they will absentmindedly wave you off while they continue texting their friends.

Mobile phones and tablets should really be banned during such occasions but how many actually have the discipline and courtesy to practise this? I can be very absorbed in my phone too, I won’t deny that. But those are usually times when I have nothing better to do, for example whiling time away when waiting for someone or during the daily commute. I try to make it a point not to keep checking my phone or stow it away when I’m out with someone, unless it gets to the stage where my presence is redundant.

It’s just annoying. And plain rude.

Forgotten love… MBMJ

Many years ago, or maybe it wasn’t so long ago… I used to really like stuff by Marc by Marc Jacobs because of its quirkiness. Back then, there was often a regular update of their designs by a new mascot that they would use, whether it’s a Miss Marc or Mr. Actually, I’m not sure if it’s Miss or Mr, but I thought sometimes it looked like it could be a male. That was what drew me to the brand anyway but after some time, IĀ dropped off. It probably isn’t sustainable for my wallet anyway haha, and to be very, very honest, I don’t need so many bags / earrings / pouches / accessories / what-have-you.

Some time back, I got to know that they are going to discontinue the line, as in this sub-line would be consolidated into the main Marc Jacobs brand. I am not a big Marc Jacobs fan simply because I don’t follow it and am generally not a fan of any single brand. It’s about affordability, one thing, and of course, I prefer diversity and variety. It’s more practical anyway. It was only recently that it became clear to me that this quirky brand is going to be no-more, and of course with most of such occurrences it means existing products become sought after since they will no longer be produced. It’s not about it becoming a collectible (these are not Chanels or Hermes) but rather this quirky brand would just disappear. And the most important thing, the remaining products are typically sold at discounted prices! Call me a cheapo but if you can get the same authentic thing at a fraction of the original price, why not? Savings are always good. Not thinking about the ‘savings’ from if I don’t buy them at all. That’s another perspective.

So after what seemed like a long time, I decided to splurge on bags again! I can’t remember but the last time I bought a bag was probably last April when I went to Tokyo? And it was an Agnes B. tote that wasn’t all that pricey. Compared with what I used to buy, that was really a fraction. With MBMJ this time, I bought two at a go, from different sources though – one online because there was a further promotion from the website I got from, and another from Isetan as they were also offering it at a discount.

Check out both my buys, pictures taken courtesy of Nordstrom.com.

MBMJ_bags

The one on left is fruit-print canvas tote with lemon/lime prints all over. I really liked this when I saw it online, although what caught my attention in the beginning was the white/cream version that carried cherry prints instead of lime. I decided to get the black version because we all know how white or cream based canvas bags are a disaster waiting to happen over the longer term.

On the right is similar to something that I already have, a cushion-y tote that’s so soft and comfortable to carry, not to mention light. I was told that this is a bit more fragile as compared to the one I currently have so I was advised to not overload it for example, with a laptop. I had wanted to get the medium-sized tote for this but as I was carrying it, the sales assistant told me the smaller version compares better with my current piece and the medium would be a little too big because of my size. Well, I won’t call myself petite or anything but tend towards a thinner frame now so probably the medium-sized tote would overwhelm me.

The combined prices of both of these bags probably add up to just 10 percent, or definitely below 20 percent, of what one of those past bags cost. Of course neither of these are leather so that explains the lower price tags, but leather bags are much harder to maintain and heavier to carry. Also, with these it just means I won’t feel as much heartache when they become worn with use and they are more utilitarian and versatile for my daily usage!