Run

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A rumpled bed. A book. A white mug of something hot and sweet. I can do a day like that on repeat.

***

Once a week for the past fortnight, I have been going for a really short run with the husband. I got my first pair of running shoes in about 12 years. They are Nikes from the kids’ department – there are perks to being a munchkin.

I still can’t do a full round without stopping to hold my side and pant, but there is some truth to what they say about how exercise makes you feel pretty good (after its all over). I really hope to make this a habit, because I feel that I have reached the age where having a routine would do me good.

So, let’s check back in a few weeks to find out if I stick with it.

***

Today is my last day in the office for the year. I would still have to work from home, but it feels like work has wrapped up for the year, and that’s something to be happy about.

Everyone is rather chirpy, and there is a Christmas dinner to look forward to later this evening. There’ll be gifts and hopefully laughter.

The end of the year is such a nice time.

Luck

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The way I see the ampersand, its an auspicious symbol. It means that there’s always something else, something more. And there’s a 50-50 chance that the “more” is good. All things considered, those odds are not bad.

***

It took me a full two weeks to feel like I’m back (from the honeymoon). Like, really back.

Before that, my mind was always somewhere in the near-past, wistfully reliving favourite moments – there were a lot of flashbacks of cool Nordic sunlight, that lovely, shiny thing that I wish to bottle.

This always happens with great vacations, I think. The “blues”. But truth be told, I am rather glad to be home too.

***

So, we met a guy who looks and talks uncannily like Bradley Cooper in sleepy little Kalmar. Let’s call him “Bradley Cooper Kalmar”.

Bradley Cooper Kalmar is training for the Iron Man competition, and sometimes cycles 10 kilometers to work.

All these little details about the people we would probably never meet again in our lives.

***

For two days after we went for the glacier hike in Jostedalsbreen National Park (Norway), I felt this irrational anxiety about how we had almost missed out on it (we didn’t make it for the pick-up and the guide very nearly left us behind). What if we have never paddled in that pristine lake? Or drank hot chocolate on that intoxicatingly blue ice? Or watched our guide retrieved an almost-lost axe (all the while in awe of his Bear Grylls-like abilities)? What if we have never felt our smallness out in all that raw, stark beauty that just goes on and on?

What if, what if.

I always play this game of “sliding doors” with myself – what if all these awesome things (that probably led to more awesome things) never happened? There’s an addictive thrill and comfort in remembering that sometimes, we get lucky.

Near-misses like this get me all excited and emotional and happy and grateful.

***

What are the chances of getting authentic Indian food in chilly Copenhagen? And yet, there it is, a steaming pile of fragrant rice and skewered meat, with milky tea (how glorious!) on the side.

Definitely one of the best meals of the entire trip.

***

While we were in the car, right at the start of the “light chase”, the guy next to us told us that it was his third night in a row going on one of these trips – he didn’t see anything the last two nights. I felt a little jittery at that. We only have that one night.

20 kilometres outside of Tromso, our guide spotted that enthralling green swirls in the sky. Faint, but there. We got out of the car, and a few minutes later, something the guide called a “corona borealis” burst over our heads. It looked like a light shower that seems to rain right down.

I remembered thinking that even if we see nothing else tonight, it wouldn’t be that bad.

Later in the night, we were sitting on a road shoulder, staring up in absolute awe at a sheet of moving illuminated gauze, flashing violet, green, red and blue as it folds in on itself over and over, a kind of celestial origami that is simply breath-taking to watch. It is kind of hard to describe, that thing in the sky that night.

But you have to see it, this wonderful thing in the sky.

Ideally, you should see it while sitting around a crackling fire, drinking hot sweet tea and eating sandwiches. It would probably be too cold, and you will grumble about it, but you won’t mind, at least not too much.

***

We were all packed up.

Our time in Stockholm felt hurried – apparently, we have accidentally booked one less day in the Swedish capital. This is one of those places that feels full, a compact metropolis with its fast-walking people and charming (sometimes bloody) history, and bright lights and intriguing shops and lovely museums. One day less = too many things to do, too little time to do them.

We got back to the hotel, a little wet from the rain. They pulled out our bags and we are just catching our breath – a few minutes more and we were going to leave for the airport.

Right then, a puzzled concierge came over to let us know that his system reflects that we have one more night at the hotel. And we do!

One more night in Stockholm. It was such great news. We celebrated with beef tartar and snaps and meatballs at a supposedly authentic Swedish beer hall.

It was really nice.

***

I wanted to see the “bog bodies“. 2,000-year-old human remains, perfectly preserved by chance. They show that perhaps, not all thing pass – or just that some things stay for a longer than expected amount of time.

We drove to the small Danish town with the small museum where the Tollund Man (made famous by National Geographic) is. But the front door is locked and the sign on it said that it is only opened on weekends. It was a Wednesday – by the time the weekends rolls around, we would be on a plane, flying back home to Singapore.

The disappointment! All this way for naught.

Then something very awesome, and near-miraculous, happened. An elderly man walked by with a box, on the way to his car. We stopped him to asked about the museum, hoping that we have read the sign wrongly, that we may somehow still be able to get in.

We didn’t read the sign wrongly, but this man turned out to be the director of the museum. With typical Danish kindness, he decided that it would be much too much a pity to come all the way without see Mr Tollund. He let us in through a side door into an empty museum and into the little room where the dark-skinned wonder rests, complete with stubble on his chin, looking just like he is sleeping.

A private tour, on a Wednesday, in a museum that is only opened on the weekends, to meet someone who lived two millennia ago.

That is luck.

***

The very last piece of luck struck on the very last night of the trip.

We got a parking ticket the day before for a mysterious offence and we did not want to risk another one. Yet, there is no legal parking spaces to be found, at least not one that does not cost too much.

Almost an hour of circling later, we are more or less resigned to dishing out the money for a space at the hotel’s over-priced car park, but the husband decided that we will do one last trawl of the free-parking street in front of it that we have already drove through half a dozen time in the last half hour.

And there it is – a slot. Where did it come from? But who cares, it is there.

That wrapped everything up really nicely.

Paper

I enjoy Young‘s photographs so much. Hers are the kind of images that make you feel that the world – with all of its absurdity and cruelty that has broken your heart a thousand times before – is good.

Recently, she has been visiting Iceland quite a bit. All the more reason to hop over to her blog or follow her on Instagram.

***

I realise that I am a paper hoarder. I have this deep desire to own books, magazines, and any other bits of paper that is nice to look at – including well-made invitations, catalogs, art prints, flyers, anything printed that appeals to my eyes and hopefully smells all pulp-y.

I just like to have them. And most of the time, I tell myself that it is not too much to ask, that I am not one of those people on reality TV who are slowly but surely being buried alive under their inexplicable clutter (which most of the time, do not consist of pretty things).

I conclude: amassing beautiful things is not the same as hoarding. Besides it is good for the soul.

[When challenged about one of your choices, there is always the option to label it as “soul food”.]

Afternoon

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When you are 30 years old, watching a movie on a Monday afternoon offers a certain gleeful thrill, mostly because it shouldn’t be. Mondays are for work, not for hiding out in a darkened cinema, watching Liam Neeson hunt down sociopathic serial killers.

But when you are 30 years old, you also know that rules can be bent – especially the ones about Monday afternoons.

***

I just listened to that speech Emma Watson made at the U.N about gender equality. What are the chances that she would turn out to be a real-life Hermione?

But I’m so glad that she did. It made Harry Potter even more magical than it already is.

Dumbledore would be so proud.

***

I admire male friendships for their steadfastness, but even more so for their seeming ease. The most trying part of a male friendship seems to take place right at their very beginnings, when the parties involved have to decide if the other(s) are worthwhile. Once someone’s worthiness as a friend has been determined, it is pretty straightforward.

Make fun and laugh. Eat and drink together. Be good to one another. Be tight. Just be there.

This is such a stereotypical version of male friendships, and I am indeed looking in from the outside.

But from where I am standing, its all good – and I want that.

Grow

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I’ve been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, so naturally I’ve been thinking about how to be happy – or rather, how to be happier.

And it struck me that one of the things that resonates the most with me from the book is the emphasis on growth. Apparently, we need to move forward, be better, to feel happy.

This is Rubin’s first “Splendid Truth”. In her words:

To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

I thought about my own life. It’s pretty good. I get to write for a living, I have quite a bit of time to do as I please, I just moved into a new apartment, I got married, I can buy a book anytime I please. All is well.

Yet, I’ve been feeling restless for quite a while. A sense that things are not as they should be.

And it becomes clear that it is a lack of growth. Nothing dulls the spirit like stagnation.

So, I need to move. And yes, I shall.

[Image via A Beautiful Mess]

Wife

So, I’m a wife.

Everyone keeps asking me how it feels to be married. I don’t have a quote-worthy answer to that – but I can tell you that my heart feels light and full, at the same time.

I figure that its a good thing.

***

It occured to me that I did not get to finish my vows. I was too focused on not dissolving into a tearful mess (I was already half-way there).

And I missed out the best part.

For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death do us part.

To make up for not managing to say them, let me live out these words every day.

***

I decided to have a glass of wine in the midde of the afternoon. Partly because I have been abstaining for so long, and partly because I felt like I want to exercise my freedom to do that.

If being an adult is not about being able to have a glass of wine whenever you want, I don’t know what it is about.

Grand

One day, I hope to be a grandmother with a grand-daughter, who would do a wonderful little film about my life (when I’m dead).

***

Some days, it is just too hot (which makes me sleepy) to do anything at all.

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At a certain point during the night, I started feeling self-conscious about wearing a $12 outfit to an Hermes event.

Then the champagne got the better of me and I felt fabulous again.

A Quarter

[Image from this lovely blog]

***

An entire quarter of 2014 has passed right by and this is my first post of the year – says a lot about where I am with blogging right now. How did I go from blogging every single day to being completely absent for months? I guess when you write on the internet for a living, blogging in your spare time just feels too much like work.

Having said that, I still like to keep this space and check in once in a while.

I love the idea of a journal, but I just don’t seem to have the will to keep one right now. I am hopeful though, that I will get back to it eventually.

Because if we are not going to record our own days, who is going to do that for us? And we all know that events that have not been recorded stop being real after some time.

***

So, HDB handed over a huge bunch of 18 keys to me today. It felt mildly exhilarating, a quiet buzz signaling that things are changing and will never be the same.

Changes have been falling over one another, rushing to happen. But why not have them all at once? It is the changes that drag their feet that I cannot stand.

Such a rush, to do nothing at all.

On the contrary, there is such a lot to be done – happy problems, for the privileged.

We cannot stand still. The ground is shifting beneath our feet.

***

I will probably be moving into the new apartment in May.

The only thing I am feeling morose about is how much I am going to miss Rudi, with her silly sad eyes.

Finish Up + Move On

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It seems like a good idea to look at as many beautiful pictures as I can while I wait for the year to finish up.

***

I have managed to acquire a new obsession recently: podcasts. They have been around for the longest time so I cannot say why I have suddenly become so enamoured with them; but I am.

I am in love with the idea of how I can fill up all that empty time spent on the train or walking to somewhere or just standing in line for something with wonderful talk that imparts exciting new knowledge. [It has something to do with how I aspire to be a Trivia Queen / “Insufferable Know-It-All”.]

Here are some of the podcasts that I’m binge-listening too. They are mostly about people doing creative and awesome things with their lives. I like the general positivity of these podcasts and the immense sense of possibility that they give me. [In particular, I like to be hear about the serendipity that peppers their life paths, which often changes their courses in surprising but ultimately thank-god-that-happened ways.]

  • Design Matters by Debbie Millman. Currently my favourite. Features interview-style chats with fabulous personalities in the design industry or just about anyone who is doing great work in a creative way.
  • Accidental Creative by Todd Henry. A lifehack podcast to help people lead a productive and creative lifestyle, and to get some brilliant work done on the way.
  • The Entrepreneur by Monocle. This is my favourite among all of Monocle’s podcasts (e.g. Section D, The Urbanist) because it features the most brilliant business ideas, and it is exciting to learn about how people can have fun, do good while making money.
  • TED Talks. There are a number of TED Talks podcasts, each one based on a theme like Business, Education or Design. Most of them are video podcasts, but there is an audio one that I subscribe to for listening on-the-go.

***

#1: I love you for your sense of adventure.

***

I feel that it is almost time to move on from here. You know, a change of scene. Right now, Medium.com looks like a good idea. At first, I thought that it is a website that publishes some seriously good articles. Then I realised that it is actually a blogging platform that is the opposite of Tumblr – instead of 95% pictures, it is 95% words.

And that is what I do here, isn’t it?

Besides, I am more or less won over by its ultra-clean design. However, what really tipped me over is when I found out that these are the same guys who created Blogger. That was where this whole blogging thing started, so the nostalgia is strong with this one.

Will sleep on it for a little while more, but if anything is to happen, I would think the new year would be the best time to do it.