Things I Hear (and see) At Work

I have worked in the education sector for close to six years now. When I was 19, I worked in the government sector. I was fired three years after that.

I did something else for close to ten months and then I got a job in a polytechnic. Gig lasted almost 3 years, and then I worked in another school for 6 months. The second gig was not fun. Then I was jobless for another 6 months, and then I got a job at my current workplace. Love it. Stressful? Sometimes. Fun? Yes.

Shit I Heard/See

There are many schools in Singapore. I work in post-secondary schools so you would think people would be clever-er. They are not! (spoiler alert)

  • The One With JPEG

In one of my gigs my job was to ensure that course notes were printed and delivered on time. There was a short course on how to fix the a/c and this old guy (the instructor) came to give me his notes. Around 200 pages of JPEG images. He saved his ENTIRE course notes in jpeg format. Who. The. Fuck. Does. That?! My computer would not allow me to print in sequence with a click of a button so I had to sit there for at least 30 minutes to print all. This was worse than the time I chastised someone for printing ONE PPT SLIDE per page. 297 pages. What a waste of paper! You need almost 150 sheets of paper!

  • The One With Competitors

I had a colleague with three school-going children. She was very Malay, and when I say this I don't mean the good Malay. I mean the kind of Malay you are glad you see only sometimes. I was telling her over breakfast that my brother went to NTU, but he went to an art school before that and her face drew a blank. "NAFA?" I said. "Private art school," I explained. I mean come on. LASALLE was and still is probably the most popular, and then you have the Chinese school NAFA! How could you not know when you work in that sector? My mom of course knows. She paid for it! Anyway makcik bodoh la.

  • The One Without The Slide

I had this superior once who was quite annoying. I don't know whether it was age, or it's just him, but he invited an agency over to do business with us. I was not invited to this particular meeting but at the last minute he made me attend. So agency gave the briefing for the school (my workplace) to take over this portion, and I sat through the meeting in my pjyama pants and flip flops. Deputy Director was ready to say yes. So I said "Where are your slides on the numbers?" "Oh we didn't prepare that" Me: "Well I need to see them. I need to know how much money I can expect to make a year" "Oh. Okay. We don't have that slide" "Why not make that slide and come back and present it? So I can see whether it makes sense?" "Oh okay"

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid!

This was the same boss who said my bringing in the business would be parked under Business Development. I signed a company for SGD 20,000 per course for 8 students and they were doing it four times and I did the business over email… no phone calls.. no handshake necessary, just three-liner emails and quick fire response.

I still hate that boss. He is a nice person but at work he was rubbish.

  • The One With The Barking

I'd like to think I am a reasonable person. I do not get upset when I receive emails from angry students or mothers, and what I do is defuse the situation. I usually do this with emotion out of the way. Then after work I'd just bitch about it to my loved ones.

One time a student wrote in CAPS: "[My name] DO YOU WANT ME TO BARK LIKE A DOG! (plus expletives) So customer service sent the email to me and cc-ed my AVP and SVP to deal with it.

I didn't respond to the student directly but shot customer service, my AVP, the SVP, and my supervisor an email about 1) getting Planning (the fellas in charge of timetables) to explain the frequent change in schedules (which was the crux of the issue) and 2) coming forward to support staff (i.e. me) when they face abuse from students. Everyone scrambled to apologise to me and made Planning deal with student. I no longer received any emails from customer service.

I also have terrible stories about front desk and customer service in general but I am tired now I want to watch Bojack.

Things That Make Me Miss New York

I Netflix a lot for someone who is busy. Currently I watch Shooter. I don't think it has an excellent rating but I like shows with guns.

Other shows I like include: The Blacklist, Suits, Elementary (the first three seasons), The Good Wife, comedy specials such as Trevor Noah's Afraid of the Dark, John Mulaney The Comeback Kid (I also enjoyed New In Town), Sarah Silverman's A Speck of Dust.

I watched BoJack Horseman earlier this week and I saw:

See painting behind the female character (Diane Nyugen). Isn't that… a.. Matisse?

Shown in Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

And then a couple of months ago I watched The Blacklist.

Tom Keen in a laundromat. The same one I went to the Sunday I flew back to Singapore. I spent almost 2 hours doing laundry because I didn't want my mom to have to wash 10 days worth of clothes.

I miss New York! 😦

I am Old

People always say things like “you are only as old as you think/feel/dress“. I am old. I’ll get over it but I am old.

How I know I am old? Well I don’t have grey pubic hair (that’s a blog post for when I am 40) but there were and are some signs:

  • Feeling lethargic all the time

In my early twenties I went out after work all the time. I’d be hanging out someplace (Tanjong Pagar was my favourite) shooting the breeze with a friend/friends. I’d get home at 11pm sometimes 1am and then sleep and get up for work. Sometimes when I was lazy I’d just text my supervisor to take a sickie.

If you asked me to go out after work now any one of these things must happen or must have happened: 1) somebody is sick at the hospital, 2) somebody died, 3) it is a simple dinner and we will be done by 8pm, 4) if we are not done by 8, it’d better be a Friday! 5) hot guy but it’d better be Friday! 6) a play I am dying to watch

Plus! If I went home at midnight Mondays through Thursdays I would either have to call in sick or dead the next day.

  • Not fazed by things

I had a prolonged adolescence so a lot of things bothered me. I did things in my teens and most of my twenties I wouldn’t do now such as 1) delete people off Facebook, 2) banter with people on Facebook over some stupid thing, 3) get upset by Facebook comments, 4) everything Facebook basically.

Now I don’t hang out with people I don’t like. I don’t text them back. I might not even have their number. I don’t follow them on Instagram. I don’t care if they are on my Facebook. I don’t care if they delete me. I don’t care if they throw shade at me and somebody else takes a screenshot to show me. I don’t care if somebody has a problem with somebody else at work unless it directly affects work.. I don’t care if they leave stupid comments on my posts. Sometimes I shoot a witty line when I bother. But most days I don’t.

  • Body parts I didn’t know existed hurt

Plus. I now have a good knee and a not-so good knee. Need to take probiotics. Stomach gets upset when I want to be adventurous with food. Sweet things are no longer nice. I hate having dinner. The dentist is suddenly terrifying. Trips to the doctor are not exciting when I get two days MC. I have two days MC? Fuck I’ll just take the meds and maybe one day rest. When I rest I really rest. I switch off my phone. Because headache! I also now have a gynae. I want to change gynae. I haven’t booked appointment. The receptionist at work always asks if it’s time to dial 995 when I complain of abdomen pain. And hand sanitizer. Where has that hand been!

  • Later is my favourite word (I lazy to bold this)

I mean okay. All procrastinators like this word. But HEY. I have two days off on weekends right. Maybe I’ll go to the museum. But I have to shower and wear clothes. Lazy! I bought sandpaper to sand my canvas for painting. I’ll do it later. Want to try the Philips Air Fryer. Still in shrink wrap. Lazy! Later need to wash so many things. Want to reinvent myself and be cool. How old was Madonna when she reinvented herself. Later I will google……. I like you and would love to hang out with you. Can we set a date for 2028? When I finally get my ass off the couch?

I am old, whiney, and lazy.

Things I Thought About Today

Random, couch toughts on Sunday:

  • Does a drug like NZT (on that movie Limitless) really exist?
  • Why do Malay people like to give birth so much?
  • When women or, wives, of men who constantly cheat on them write sweet, convincing things on Facebook do I feel sorry for the women, or the men? Or that this is just part and parcel of life so feeling sorry for anyone is unnecessary?
  • Are we allowed to beat children (of guests) who touch things in our home? (Nothing to do with me; I haven’t had random children in my home in years)
  • Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Hsien Loong! Who is the baddie?
  • When the Singapore government say we are short of babies, do they only mean Chinese babies?
  • Why is my cat always naughty?
  • Why am I always naughty?
  • Why is it so hard to feel motivated to date?
  • Are Indonesian women (born and raised) more marry-able than Singaporean Malay women?
  • Is Rihanna’s Love On The Brain difficult to sing at karaoke?

What a busy day I had. 

Stories From My Childhood

I had a terribly long week. I love my job (as you can see on Facebook; it’s all I ever talk about) but sometimes gahhhh.

I am feeling a little nostalgic while I am taking a dump so maybe I will tell you a few stories from my childhood. They’re not too interesting but maybe you would enjoy them.

Pendek Kata

In Malay, pendek kata means ‘in short’ but separately, pendek means short, and kata could mean word or say. There was this advert that went on on the Malay channel with some VJ (video jockey) saying ‘pendek kata bla bla bla’. My Malay was Band 1 (which means it is, I mean was, good) but I was confused and turned to my sister and asked “Who is Pendek??”

Teletubbies Craze

The year I turned 11 there was the teletubbies craze. I wanted a Teletubby, specifically Po, and specifically made by Fisher Price. I cried twice because my mom refused to buy me one, and then my dad refused to buy me one, but then he got me a Yamaha keyboard so I would shut up. I played the keyboard for as long as I could but changing batteries was a bitch. It needed at least 6, IIRC.

Getting a permanent

Not record. Perm as in permed hair. My aunt and mom got together like keratin scientists and permed my hair when I was a toddler:

and my mom did it again when I was 5 or 6.

That is a picture of me and my aunt at my old house. My mom liked me so much when I was this age because of my fake curls and tubby tummy. My mom is insane I am so glad she no longer makes decisions about my hair. Or wardrobe.

Abuse in Primary School

I used to sit beside this fat Chinese boy in Primary 3, and we used to talk a lot during Maths class. One day the teacher, who was my 11th floor neighbour, got sick of our shit, came up to us while I was talking and hit our palms with a longass wooden ruler. I was shocked, then immediately shut up for the rest of the day. I told my mom who told me ok next time don’t talk!

I miss the 90s. You can’t say bad things about, or beat kids these days.

The Mysterious World of Dating

I am single in real life. Heck, I am single in all lives. It doesn’t bother me much, but I have those rare days where I feel lonely. Rare, but they exist. I used to believe that I did not need to kiss a bunch of frogs in order to meet Mr. Right, because a good man is made for a good woman, but oh how naive!

Dating is something I find mysterious. I don’t know what topics I should talk about on date 1 or  20. I don’t even know if I’m supposed to talk. Are we supposed to eat? Drink? Watch a movie? I also don’t think I’ve dated the same person 20 times in the past 4 years.  So because I don’t know how shit works, I will share with you a few things I actually know.

(Of course you might not agree)

(Especially when you are my mother, and a product of a different generation)

Online Dating

Last year I went on this app which would match me with someone new every lunch time. I found very little success on the app, as I did with every other dating app such as Tinder and OKCupid.

On Tinder last year I matched with a man and we hit it off. However, it’s really hard to sustain the interest through text because over time I’d run out of things to say (I GET BORED, BUT I HARDLY RUN OUT OF THINGS TO SAY), and it was obvious we would not meet. He wrote and published a book before we made acquaintance, and he would share with me the writing he had been working on. For a while the process was fun, because I too had wanted to write books. And then I got bored because he’s not as funny as he thought he was, and I couldn’t really bring myself to read his writing.

So online dating did not really work for me.

Actual Dating

Actual dating meaning we put clothes on and meet someone or ten. I suck at this because I usually don’t know what to wear and how to behave around new adults. I am OK with work friends and friend friends and my 20-something-year-old students, but put me in front of some guy I’ve never met and either one of these two things would happen: 1) I eat a lot because I don’t like the person, or 2) I eat a lot, because I like the person. 

Other Things I’ve Learnt

  • Everything is accessible with a few clicks. You can see photos. You can know information such as the industry in which they work, what they like to eat, drink, read, and fuck, and the math doesn’t lie; if you have similar tastes, chances for a match are higher. But this is where it gets challenging. Matches are based on answers you provide on the app. Sometimes people lie. Sometimes liking the same things does not equal to liking the person. Sometimes people don’t message back.
  • Dating is tiring. No elaboration necessary.
  • I cannot date someone who does not have interests or hobbies. I am all about ikigai, but I am mature enough to understand that not everyone is philosophical or wants to ponder about life or their purpose in life. I am not philosophical most of the time. However, if I ask what you do after work and the sorta stuff you’re into and you say ‘mmmm I don’t know‘, I find it difficult to want to continue talking.
  • I keep thinking it’d probably be easier if I lost a ton of weight and just looked pretty. But tough luck. I like to eat and be fat.

Current Reads

I am currently reading a book on how to trigger the hero instinct in a man. I am on page 48 out of 213, but I think it’s better I get to know more people before I actually continue reading the book. This is because currently there is no man whose hero instinct I want to trigger. Hahah.

Dating is still a mystery for me.

I’ll let you know when I’ve learnt more things.


My Aunt

I hardly write tributes because I don’t know how they go, but I will try. I will preface this.. My mother is a 2nd-generation Singaporean Javanese. She knows some words here and there, but no way is she fluent in the language. My dad is Malay. Javanese people behave a little different from Malays, and I am saying this based on my experience being raised by a Javanese mother.

Yesterday we buried my mother’s older sister. She had diabetes, and then cancer, and after battling it for 20 months, she died on the morning of 31st May.

I am very close to my mother. I tell her most things about my life but I had a second mother in my wak (what we call our parents’ older siblings). My aunt and I shared the same Chinese zodiac sign (she was 36 years older than I am), and maybe the same fiery temper (and we like/d spending money!).

When I was really young she would borrow me for a few days. She always bought things for me. I didn’t want Reebok shoes when I was 4, but she bought them because they looked cute on me. I wanted prescription glasses for whatever reason when I was 7 and she got them for me (they were really adorable!). There was an overalls craze in the 90s when I was 8, she bought them for me and told me to stop staring at the price tag (it was super expensive). 

We went on holidays a few times; a couple of times without my mother. She liked buying fabric on those trips. I’d sit and tell her I needed to shit, and fabric shopping was boring can we go nowwww (but now who’s always staring at fabric) but she’d tell me to shush while she quickly browsed. 

I got excited over birthdays with her because she sometimes made my cousin bake the black eggless cake I REALLY LOVE. I still remember, and will treasure all these moments and memories.

And she loved taking pictures of me. I always complained I looked gross but she would always insist NO YOU WERE SO CUTE!

At home she always had the radio on (Malay channel 24/7 and sometimes sang along to the songs while I asked YOU KNOW THIS SONG ALSO WHERE YOU LEARN?), insisted I took a shower before breakfast, told me to please stop touching the cat while I ate whatever she had prepared for me. She was an excellent cook and always fed me. She made the best nasi ambeng (which is why I am amused whenever people want to recommend me places serving this delicacy because I really had tasted the best!). When I was a teenager she told me to help her out in the kitchen once. I’d groan and start blending stuff and whine for my mother and she would keep a watchful eye on me and I’d get stressed out. Because that’s how she was. Everything had to be just right. But she was usually nice about it and let me off the hook.

She used to tease me because I whined a lot. And always asked for Milo! Because I don’t know how to make Milo until now. I make but usually it tastes funny so I delegate this task to my mom. And dad. And sister (my sister is merciless towards me!)

When my friend Shikin turned 28, my dad chaperoned us to Batam (because my parents still think my grasp of Bahasa Indonesia is weak) and I kept reminding my dad to buy pempek for wak. My dad adored her to bits too, so he woke up early before we went back to buy whatever we could.

When I got older and started becoming increasingly busy with school we hardly saw each other but my mom made me visit her relatives and although I didn’t understand the point then, I just went along. Now I wish I’d spent more time with her. 😦

Also, when we were burying her, my mom wasn’t there, and at one point there was a confusion about flowers and I thought to myself if wak were here she’d know what to do, and I got sad because for a moment I forgot she was no longer with us.

I had her in my life for 29 years. For some people, that is plenty, but I am selfish and want her forever. Through her I learnt about love. I also always wanted to do all the things she knew how to do (like sewing! Making ketupat! Cook like pro!) I saw how she fussed over my cousins and secretly enjoyed it when she fussed over me. She always bought things and fed me (and then call me fat!) like a good old-fashioned Javanese aunt, to demonstrate all the love she had for me. I also learnt about doing things properly and trying my best because she held the belief that everything must not be short of fantastic.

When I am at work, I usually think of my mom and Ollie (my cat) but there were moments I think of my aunt.

I will miss her forever, and always. She may be gone, but she’s never over. ❤