Butterfly Effect

Do you get butterflies when you speak in public? I give lectures for a living and as ironic as this may seem, I certainly do get them. This usually happens at the dawn of each semester. I’m at my fifth year of teaching; yet I get the flutters all the same. Nonetheless, I’m glad that my first class of this cycle went fine today. The rest should now be a walk in the park. Having released all those “butterflies,” I’m now going to close the night with a bowl of macaroni and cheese and this Woody Allen movie.

Tangled, Pretzled

Learning to navigate Prezi today. The mechanics are slightly tougher than expected. But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on mastering Prezi. I believe I’ll get used to the platform one day. Baby steps, baby.

To Love With Love

A big thank you to my half for this one last birthday gift— a cake-holding bear made out of crystal. This adorable teddy is meant for Aquarians like me, and now sits on my bedside ladder. He reminds me of how loved I am every day.

The Sweetest Things

My baby sister, who's a makeup artist, gave me this foundation set from Benefit. I've always loved their retro-inspired packaging and witty copies. They double as home décor in my books. My ma went back to her hometown recently and came back with these stylish boots meant for me. She has great taste in shoes. I am soled. A Nora Ephron book about aging is perfect for all the ladies celebrating their birthdays. Having said so, I bought this for myself. That's just my sense of humor talking.

Birthday Night

One of my family’s traditions for birthdays is to hold a dinner gathering with our partners invited. I had mine at Latest Recipe, a fancy hotel resto with my ma, sister, her man and my better half (who “serendipitiously” as he called it, wore baby blue tie that matched the blouse I was wearing). That moment was my favorite. We had lively conversations at the dinner table over good food (the teriyaki meat was, to say the least, divine). I look forward to being a year older and spending more good times like this with those I love. 

The Particular Happiness of a Birthday Cake

I’m proud to have baked my own birthday cake this year. It feels very grown-up to have done so. I call it the Betty Crockeresque rite of passage to being autonomous. The homemade cake bowled over my family the most. For a hint of variation, I put in chunks of pineapples into the batter alongside the carrots. While I usually enjoy the cake with good old whipped crème, I chose buttersweet frosting instead for a more traditional vibe. The sugar melted deliciously into the warm crevices of the cake. It was rich, tart and slightly nutty from the carrots. Above all, it tasted good. The candles were the only ones missing, really. I didn’t miss those much though. After all, twenty eight candles are a bit too many to blow ;)

Twenty Eighth Year

My ma was twenty-eight years young when she welcomed me into the world. I’m that age today. And twenty-eight looks incredible from hereon. God bless, and cheers for more years to come.

Salmon Pink

I’ve had a lifelong affair with salmon. I first tasted the fish when I was living in London as a child. It was a smoked salmon sandwich with a thick slice of cheddar to savor with. As I bit into the sandwich, I imagined the salmon as ham. Both share that same intense pinkness. I was the only child in school who practiced eating kosher. The rest brought their ham sandwiches for lunch. So I guess that explains the odd imagining. That was almost twenty years ago. I remember the story perfectly as I prepared dinner on the eve of my birthday. I had fresh salmon chunks with me in the kitchen. I whipped up my very first pan-fried salmon with lemon parsley sauce. Did I mention that I wore my pearls and little black dress as I chop and fry? I succeeded with the apron as my witness. I invited my half over for dinner and our night looked like this. Nothing tastes better than adulthood.

The Art of Persuasion

Make eye contact from afar. Strut modestly. Stand close. Keep paws off for now. Be quiet. Just blink. Persevere for a few minutes. Look up. Make eye contact again. Enlarge pupils (practice makes perfect). Mew gently. Blink blink. Expect to hear “awhh.” There it is. Don't get excited just yet. Remain modest. Wait for it. Look out for that hand. A signal. Now go. Get fur stroked. Raise chin to be scratched. Remember to purr. Enjoy this. Give a friendly bite. Be gentle always. Hear more “awhhs”. Close enough. See that piece of fish now. Stay on the fish. Stray from looking too eager. Eye on the fish. Don't jump. Gravity will pull the fish. There. Savor it. Nothing else tastes better. Leave the bones behind. Lick paws. Walk away.
I learnt a lot from this cat today.

Cloudy with a Chance of Lightness

The clouds appeared grim today and the skies seemed about to open up. But then I noticed light streaming through the vapors. Such beauty was remarkable. I reckon cloud watching as the best “music” to unwind to.

Kitchen Love

At seventy-five, my grandma is still a one fine trouper. Today I caught her scrubbing and arranging in my ma’s kitchen. When I offered help, she testily refused and said she could manage (such a “grandmother” thing to do). I just stood in the kitchen, admiring her labor. The space was spick and span. Every single jar, bottle, plate and shaker was in order. And we all had grandma to thank for, as she did all that out of love (and perhaps, out of a little ennui too).

The Umbrellas of PJ

Today I'm just glad that I reached home in time before the rain fell. The rest of the world held up their colorful umbrellas and marched on.

My Grandmother's Antic

My grandma has been staying at my ma's place for the past couple of weeks. She lives in Johore, but she often takes a train ride to Kuala Lumpur so that she could visit us. I’ve been visiting her at home every weekend, and her presence has brought more jouissance in the house. We just love watching her dramatizing each memory that she recollects from her distant past (she’s a natural thespian). She also tends the garden very well, and insists upon cooking every single meal for us. I’m grateful for every moment I get to see her and listen to her stories.

Hoard Station

I'm grateful to have found all those readings as prescribed by my professors in graduate school. I'm in dire need of texts by Braudillard, Barthes, Bordieu, Benjamin, Freud, Jameson, Sontag and...well, I could go on forever. They're what I need to prepare for another trip to the ivory tower soon.
PS I found this poem, an abcedarian, that I wrote in my college poetry workshop. This makes no sense today but it sure rolls nicely on the tongue when recited. Try it.

Ég Elska Hann

My half visited me at home this morning in a trench coat. He reminds me of Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything, minus the boombox. He's the kind that would make sure you don't step on any broken glass. And the best part? My Lloyd is far from fictional. 


My half and I always listen to late-night radio anytime we’re driving together past daylight. Our favorite show is Groovedown, which plays a lot of soul and serves as an agony aunt to urban ladies. I love it because I never feel alone, listening to all the stumbling blocks that others face. My half, on the other hand, favors it simply because he wants to know what women want. Secretly, we both adore Priscilla Seelan’s comforting voice. So a few nights ago, I called in the show to offer my two cents on setting up a nest outside of our parents’. A girl in her late twenties was contemplating on moving out from her mother’s. I shared how I did so myself a few years back and it’s been liberating thus far. There’s nothing wrong wanting to stand on your own two feet. I’m thankful for my mother— she’s been nothing but supportive of the decisions that I make for my own betterment. I hope it all goes just as well for the girl and her parent too.

Let Me Have Cake

This carrot cake was the highlight of my day, baked thoughtfully by my teenage cousin A. It had walnuts and a fair bit of mashed bananas too. She could open a mini bakery if she wanted to.

After the Rain

Today I spent some quiet time with my sister, watching the trees dancing in the garden to the sounds of Air. The afternoon was just beautiful because of its rarity. Not bad at all.

(Be) Stillness

I’m in a funk today. Be that as it may, I’m thankful for my good friend E. who knows how to nurse my worried heart. I call him my "personal therapist." He calls it "unpaid, voluntary work." I just love his sense of humor.

Shadows of Black and Gold

I'm so proud of my sister's Motown performance tonight over at the academy she attends. The girl can sing, in my most humble, neutral-ish opinion. She stands second from the left in this photograph.

In Company of Cats

Meet Zoë and Mousch. She’s my cat and he’s my ma's. When Zoë was a baby, I took her to my ma's often. Mousch would be the most curious cat alive whenever she was around. First they bit each other, with a few scratches here and there but as months rolled by, the viciousness changed into friendlier nips. They played hide and seek and tag and other feline games. Soon, Zoë and Mousch became inseparable. She cried whenever I pack her into a carrier to go back to our place. My ma told me that Mousch would look for her whenever she was gone. One day, I took her back to Mousch and as they were playing, I noticed how happy she looked. I told myself, why not? If you love her that much, you let her go. And ever since then, Zoë has been with my ma and Mousch, much to her delight.

Ivory Tower

The desire to pursue my PhD has finally kicked in. I‘ve been holding off for almost two years ever since I completed my MA. I told myself, "You're too busy teaching," "You're still on break," and "You have a life." Excuses they were. But this year is going to be different. I’m going to build my courage to go down this road. It’s going to be a long one but I know it’s going to be worth it. I’ve set my foot down on academia a long time ago so I might as well start walking further.

A Thoughtful Free

The littlest gestures mean the most. For instance, today, my cubicle-mate J. offered me her spicy alfredo pasta for lunch and dinner. It may not be photogenic here but it tasted hot and delectable. J. is hands down the sweetest and most thoughtful colleague you could ever have.


Today I woke up and found these flowers blooming from the stems of my tarragon. I'm grateful for this little discovery. Grow more, love.

Sweet Technology

Today I'm grateful that my phone is rejuvenated with a shiny new touchscreen. Believe it or not, the poor thing cracked into pieces last night. I may need to be gentler next time.

Veg Lover

I consider myself lucky for having a partner who gives delightful surprises every now and then. Today, my half came over and took care of all the things in the kitchen for a late lunch. The man’s a fabulous cook-- the kind who takes pleasure wielding knives, chopping onions and squeezing the pulp out of lemons. He made sure I eat all the colorful vegetables that I'd stuffed in the fridge (but never touched). They tasted heaven.
PS You must be wondering about the dirt on my palm. That's just mascara.

Mighty Red

If I could give myself a pat on the back, I would. I just finished wading through the piles of papers to be graded. The red pen’s resting, the marks all keyed in. Everything has finally ended. Now it’s time for a breather with a healthy dose of quietude (in other words: chill out).

Going Green

I spent one quiet afternoon shopping for herbs with my grandma. We discovered this little nursery off the highway that grows more herbs than flowers. Oregano, thyme, sweet basil, rosemary— you name them. I was delighted to see these greens blooming in those tiny pots. They were the fresh version of those dried McCormick ones that I use in the kitchen. Having my grandma around was helpful. The lady has green fingers and grows a fine garden at her home. Together, we picked the best chilli, rosemary, parsley, mint, tarragon and marigolds to live and grow in my balcony herb garden.

Color Me Crimson

Here’s a toast to a year of good luck. I found this red dress on the streets of Jonker at a very cheap, flea-market price. I prefer to wear pastel shades but red is supposed to bring prosperity into one's life. And nothing beats a new (red) dress to celebrate the new year at work.
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