Dearest ______,

I’d been quietly arranging both flowers and life in my hometown when Bea suddenly broached the idea of flying to Manila for a long weekend with the band to play… and play. I said HELL YEAH within ten minutes. We’d been gigging together as Narcloudia in Singapore for around four years now, and my new non-status in life had just started making me more open to saying YES to most things these days. It was just about time, kismet and all.

Continue reading “#narcloudiaMNL”

Writings on the Wall

Dearest ______,

Some people believe pop psych writer Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule. You know, how he supposes that it takes precisely 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become great at any one thing. When I first heard this theory years ago, I had a tiny panic at the thought of not being able to have enough time in my “youth”– approximately 10,000 hours to spare– to master what I truly wanted to be good at. I was halfway down my 20’s and had been agonising: “If I were supposed to be amazing at something, shouldn’t I be amazing at it by now? How is one supposed to be great at something— or at the very least, in the midst of aiming at greatness– when one doesn’t even know what that something is?” On and on these anxious little thoughts do plague an imaginative girl’s head for long stretches of time.

It’s been years since the 10,000 Hour Rule was rightfully debunked. And even longer, since I debunked most of my personal anxieties caused by other baseless assumptions in successful living. These days, I’m more inclined to listen to ballsier people like Amy Poehler who wrote:

I guess the Buddhists would call this idea healthy detachment. Too often we are told to visualize what we want and cut out pictures of it and repeat it like a mantra over and over again. Books and magazines tell us to create vision boards. Late- night commercials remind us that “anything is possible.” Postive affirmations are written on our tea bags. I am introducing a new idea. Try to care less. Practice ambivalence. Learn to let go of wanting it. 

I will  say it again. Ambivalence is key.

You  have to care about your work but not the result. 

With lesser opinions and more facts (i.e. to-do-lists) written on the wall, the more things actually get done.  And while we definitely need more practice– for work, for talent, for passion, for ambivalence, for kindness, for life, etc– at least all this actual practicing helps to forget the time. Whether it’s been 20 hours or 10,000 hours or 33 years of living, we’re (mostly) still having fun.


And surely fun is a momentary vestige of success, however momentary that may be?



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Occupied (At Open Sea)

Dearest ______,

I had to fill up some paperwork today. Adult stuff. It felt weird, having to let my pen hover above blank spaces longer than I’d been used to for years. I only say “weird” because a better-fitting adjective escapes me at the moment. Bizarre? Surreal? Unreal?

For the first time in a couple of months, someone’s finally asked me what I actually do. Granted that someone just happened to be a piece of paper. Nonetheless, there was more weight in one word than all the conversations I’ve had to make this past two months: “OCCUPATION” screamed a little louder than before, coming from one inquisitive document. As my hand unwittingly went up and down, the empty lines seemed to demand an answer: are you Casually Employed? Self-Employed? Unemployed? A Quasi-architect? Would-be-florist? Semi-housewife?

Suddenly it hit me, how I’ve always had to justify myself– who I am, at least– by what I do for a living. For many years, I’ve been resolutely, most assuredly, a working Architect. And now with this, the current state of career flux that I find myself in, nothing seems to buoy me. As with being at open sea, the fluidity has been exciting me and challenging me and even threatening the very idea of “ME”. Only today, with pieces of paper expectantly waiting for answers, someone just seemed to suddenly check on me like an impatient sea mate: “Where are we going, Captain? Where are we? Are we there yet?”


And to that, I finally say:

“I know where we’re going. And I trust what’s out there. We look up the stars not only for direction but their beautiful solace, knowing how this journey will not be short nor always this smooth-sailing.

But we just need to keep on going.”

I tick more than two boxes on the bloody pieces of paper.



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On Work

Dearest ______,

I disagree with people when they tell me: “It’s just work. It’s nothing personal.”

The way I see it, when you spend the majority of your days doing one particular thing– when there are limitless other ways to spend them– Work just gets downright personal! After all, your time (on average 25-30 years of a person’s lifetime) is nothing but yours, personally, isn’t it? So how am I expected to view Work; my chosen vocation as anything but?

With this in mind, some of my work relationships have extended beyond working hours. Some colleagues have become friends, long after tenure. It’s like being in a classroom or an Army camp together. You come out of similar experiences (sometimes enjoyable, sometimes jarring) all slightly different, but also slightly the same by virtue of that singular environment in that certain period of time. And I’ve found that the more jarring the experiences, the more you see what each person is truly made of. Hence, friendships. And also, non-friendships. Heehee.

After almost 5 years on the job, last week was my last at work.

And my own thoughts on Work above are only to say that it has personally been the most exciting and rewarding 5 years of my life, so far: in and out and the blurry in-betweens of Work. In that period of time, I met some of the nicest people (pictured at my farewell dinner last night). Then again, some of the not-so nicest as well. Which, I guess, is to be expected from life in general.


So the next time someone tells me “It’s just work,” I’ll be prepared with a slideshow presentation of everything that “just work” has allowed me to do, achieve, and become through the years.

While I completely agree that there is certainly more to life than just Work– speaking as a proud member of the Working Class– for it to be truly meaningful, Work is and should be so much more that just a job.



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To Open Sea

Dearest ______,

It’s been (literally) years since I last wrote you. I guess when the swell of life tugs you in- even at its most regularised chaos- it’s still just that, chaotic. Beautiful, ugly, quiet, loud, fast, slow: life has been an onslaught of various waves.  Rest assured, it’s been mostly great, my friend. But amidst all that whirl, I might have forgotten how it is to sit down and just write to you.  I hope you’re still there, buoyed to whatever we have between me here and you there. Wherever that is.dsc_0151

But I’m still here.  And now, I’m writing.

Before I get into the minutiae of the past couple of years though (or not, let’s see how this goes), I guess the most pertinent thing would be that we’ve just turned a new year today.


A lot has been going on around the world these past few years, and it might just be easiest to assume that the coming tide is something that resembles what it’s like going out unto open sea.

I know people who work and stay on boats for long stretches of time. And I hear it gets really lonely sometimes. Even then, despite already knowing the destination, it’s hard enough to get one’s mind to stay on course. Obviously the future in general- 2017– might be harder to navigate.

But we always get there, don’t we?dsc_0127

I myself have launched my own “expedition unto open seas”. Unchartered personal territories (a voyage in as much inwards as out) that might very well test the inner Captain Ahab in me.

But let’s talk about that another time. dsc_0122

For now, I hope we all find what we’re looking for out there. Or in here.


I remain your faithful friend always,



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cardboard cathedral

Dearest ______

I remember reading about a major earthquake that hit Christchurch in New Zealand not too long ago, one which caused great loss in lives and living to key areas of the disaster.
A tragically captivating phrase I caught recently could probably summarize the wake of that calamity in 2011:

“A mansion under English skies;
beautiful as a wreck of paradise.”


Continue reading “cardboard cathedral”

you, each time

Dearest Watson,

While we were away, it seemed like you turned up everywhere we went.  Each time we thought of you and loudly wondered how you were- if you’d already eaten or gone to bed- we also wondered if you could be thinking of us too.


When we reached Lake Tekapo where Hippie’s parents were getting married, we met Harvey who was half Pug and half Chihuahua.  Harvey’s mum explained how pure pugs like yourself don’t survive the extreme climates of New Zealand.  And that’s why Harvey has a longer snout, so he can breathe better.

He was so kind and friendly, Wats.   If you’d met him, I think you guys would have been instant friends.

Continue reading “you, each time”