Today, I did a new moon tarot spread ritual. Being an Aries ♈︎ new moon, the first zodiac in the cycle with a new beginning theme attached to it, I did the spread focusing on the goals I set for myself this year. The last card on the spread was the “message from the Universe“, and I got the Five of Swords.
Five of Swords is about:
conflict resulting in winning but not really (winning at all costs) or being defeated.
Neither is a message I expected to get when asking about achieving my goals.
The card I pulled was from the Tarot of The Divine deck by Yoshi Yoshitani (yep, I finally got the deck after waiting for more than six months). Here, the card shows Anubis, the Egyptian god of the afterlife, holding five scythes while the fertility Goddess Isis is mourning near his feet.
Btw, I feel like it’s worth mentioning that looking at the card only and associating it with The Five of Swords‘ traditional meaning, one might interpret it as Anubis has defeated Iris in the duel. That’s not the case. In the Egyptian mythology, Anubis restored Iris’s husband, Orisis’s, chopped dead body parts, turning him into the first mummy. Therefore, Anubis is more of an ally instead of an opponent. It flipped Five of Swords’ classic deception, which is traditionally drawn as two opposing sides, one side winning and causing a grievance to the other side. Because of this and many other distorted links between the image on the cards and the mythologies behind each of them, I am not sure whether I want to celebrate this deck as the culture-themed tarot deck that I have been waiting for all my tarot-practicing life.
Anyway, back to the Five of Swords and my achievement-focused Aries ♈︎ new moon tarot spread. After some mulling-over, I remembered a story from the mega-inspiring book that I read years ago: Happier by Tal Ben Shahar. He started the book with a story of being disappointed after winning a race he put so much effort into because he thought it would make him happy (the classic: I will be happy when *insert future achievements here*), but it didn’t, because achieving goals doesn’t equal being happy/happier.
I guess the Universe is trying to tell me the same thing:
Achieving all my 2021 goals won’t bring me happiness.
Both might work parallelly and possibly interlinked, but I’d be a fool to see them as the same things. This, though I don’t like to admit, is a good reminder for a goal-hungry Virgo like myself.
Now, how do I cultivate happiness, which is the ultimate goal?
It’s been a while since I shared my #gr8ful list here ━ now, accompanied by my a-glass-on-Wednesday-night wine, seems as good a time as any.
Today I am grateful…
That I work in the CBD area which at times makes me feel like I am in the American TV shows I grew up watching. That I cultivate nurturing hobbies and for having the chance (and my sensibility) to nurture them. For stand-up comedians. For the sight of stacked books, hanging house plants, flying flock of birds and easy-to-read tarot spread. For life-defining split-second moments. For having white teeth and a happy womb. For relatable personal blogs. For an endless supply of funny stories and sleepy tea. For the come back of some parts of the old normal. For having a zest for life. For keep discovering more and more things, I love as I grow older, like chai. For film photography Instagram accounts and inspiring audiobooks. That I have strong female friends.
I miss Japan, which is not news to anyone who reads this blog. But when I could smell Japan on the potato gems I ordered from Leonard’s House of Love, the local pub in my neighbourhood, I realized that my body ━ my olfactory memory ━ miss Japan too. So much so that it has started tracing the smell of Japan, my Japan, all the way from here. 8,191.28 km away.
I catch the smell of Japan from the freshly made coffee Fafa put on my bedside table. From the tempura soba, we drive 15mins to have during lunch hour. From the bubble tea face mask I slather myself with every Thursday night. From the matcha powder, I resort to drink when I still need a mid-afternoon boost after two cups of coffee. From Fafa’s Forest perfume and his SKII products that I occasionally use without asking his permission first.
Logically I know it’s best to curb this obsession before it gets more out of hand, but all I want to do is bring more Japan into my life until I can travel some eight thousands kilometre away to be reunited with it.
One evening, high on wine, Fafa and I went on a debate about grape ice cream.
Traditional culture of Aizuwakamatsu.
Someone closed to my asked the tarot recently:
“What’s the first step I can take to feel happy again?” The Nine of Swords came the answer.
The simple charms of Japanese ‘agedashi dōfu’.
I really love these 5 reasons not to keep a tarot journal.
These past few days, I have been feeling sad and defeated. The culprit: a personal project that I have been working on since last year, which should be finalized over the weekend, faced yet another sizeable hurdle.
It felt like I was back to square one, and this time instead of being excited and hopeful like I was at the start of this project, I felt cornered and deflated.
“There goes hours and hours of time and energy spent on this project”, I thought, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to go through the whole process again.
I was just exhausted.
So, it was no surprise the Seven of Pentacles came up on my daily tarot draw this morning.
“How fitting, this is exactly how I feel right now”, I mumbled to myself before putting the card back to the deck. I wasn’t ready to dissect its’ message just yet.
But I am now…
Seven of Pentacles in the classic Rider Waite Smith is depicted by a guy standing in his tended garden looking a bit tired and disconnected. Similar to the guy on the classic Rider Waite Smith deck, I, too, feel like pausing and taking a break. But that’s not the point, is it? It invites me to see my efforts as the seeds that I will reap one day, even though it’s not now and that I ought to practice patience.
Meanwhile, Charlie, the creator of the Fifth Spirit Tarot (the deck that I am currently using), said when this card appears, it’s because we might feel tired and run down, doubting our hard-work and investment. That’s me! Then they go on with:
“It tells us to value our sweat, labor and screw up because we are learning, growing and adapting.”
Lastly, Beth of Little Red Tarot had this to say about the card:
“If things aren’t feeling great – don’t give up, not just yet. Think about how you might do things differently from now on…”
Together with my own understanding of the card, their words brought plenty for me to digest.
To know that these setbacks don’t actually mean I was back to square one. That, I am still in the game. The project is still progressing, maybe just not as close to the end as I wanted it to be. But with the right mindset, some tweaks and perseverance, I am going to tick this one off too ━ as I had for past goals that I have set for myself.
Hello! Dropping in for a quick update that I have changed the blog’s identity to KultureKal – Liminal Memoir.
I created Kovfefed – The Normal Notes Fresh From Kovfefed Post on a whim just because it seemed absurd enough to fit my mental state last year. The name was supposed to be a temporary thing, as was this blog.
The thing is this blog grew on me.
Writing whatever I want to write without thinking about SEO, niche, and analytics has been fun. No, actually, better than fun. It’s the best! So I have decided to keep the blog and keep blogging here as a nurturing creative outlet.
Also, I have been wanting to retire Kovfefed , purely because of the associations that come with the word-play. Let’s just call it death by proxy.
I toyed with the idea of using my real name for the blog URL but decided to use one of my nicknames, Kal, instead. As for the Kulture, I want to sync with my other blog, KultureKween, which has become my primary internet identity for more than a decade.
Lastly, along with the identity change, I had a treat-yo-self moment, I jazzed up the blog theme. Check it out and let me know what you think.
In memory of one year from the start of our first lockdown (Covidversary) here are some light pictures I took during that dark period.
It was an impromptu date in an unassuming restaurant, which I have seen plenty in Singapore but never in Melbourne.
For the lack of pretentiousness alone, I knew it would be a treat to eat at Soi 38. A place I have been wanting to go to since last year, but no-thanks to Covid and whatnot, it only happened this week.
Soi 38 is located inside a Wilson Parking carpark in Melbourne CBD area. I made a booking for 6.15 PM (booking is highly recommended) at 5.45 PM and went to The Paperback bookshop to spend time there while waiting for Fafa who had a gym class.
At 6.30 PM, we have put our order in: Thai BBQ set, Thai iced tea, coconut juice, Som Tum as the entree and my fave mango sticky rice dessert. The BBQ set came with various meat and seafood, noodles, vegetables and a single egg—all to be cooked on the tabletop bbq stove.
To say I was delighted would be an understatement.
The food, dipped in their homemade Thai sauce, was delicious. And the crowd was interesting. That evening, the place was bursting with diversity, from suit-wearing business people to pierced belly flashing student.
I will come back again, bring all my friends and recommend Soi 38 to anyone.
Earlier, on my commute back from work, I realised that it was precisely last year-to-date, 16th of March, that we went into self-isolation/quarantine/lockdown/confinement.
Three hundred sixty-five days ━ with the majority of those days feeling like the Groundhog day. If you read this blog long enough, you must have read enough of my complaints about it. I did it here, here and here. And then here, here and also here.
Today, I am going try a different approach 🍷 the sedated (I have downed a couple of glasses of red) and reflective kind.
Though the energy that dominated our Covid-year collectively was inevitably The Hanged Man ━ with the long stretch of static and the perpetual of postponing and waiting cycle; now, reflecting back, I can’t help recognise some things have shifted in my Universe.
I went into the lockdown delighted knowing I could sleep an extra hour before starting my WFH-days. But these days, I wake up earlier than ever to write my morning pages, draw my tarot card and journal. So yes, Covid might have Tower-ed the routines and rituals that I held on to for most of my life, but it also single-handedly changed me into a morning person.
Speaking of Covid Tower-ing my life, it also forced me to curb my goals. I had to cancel my non-refundable flight to Sydney last March, and I have no travel plans this March. Other travel plans including to see Aurora Australis, kayak in Fiji and hike the Kumano Kodo had to be postponed.
First to 2021 and now realistically and hopefully, to 2022.
In the meantime, I rerouted my goal to run a local marathon, pass the CPA exam and print a 35mm film photobook. Simpler and not-so-Covid-depend doable goals. With that I put my goals-obsessed-Virgo-mind in peace.
I miss my parents, cousins and friends terribly, but I am so grateful the lockdown gave Fafa and myself the space to strengthen our relationship.
I didn’t bake sourdough nor make the Insta-famous Dalgona coffee; instead, I found a new bakery during my weekly walk-and-talk date with Liz and bought a Nespresso machine. I also didn’t cook nearly as much as I wished to, but I managed to come up with my Come Dine With Me menu:
Indonesian cuisine – crab pastel for the entree, prawn tauco and sayur lodeh for main and either kue lapis or es cendol for dessert.
Also, during Covid-year:
I meditated for 845 minutes, experienced Zoom fatigue, let my eyebrows grow, celebrated my birthday on FaceTime and survived 112+ days of lockdown. I deepened my connection with tarot and found new obsessions, including natural Australian honey (my current fave is Blue Gum) and hot-jam doughnuts from Queen Victoria Market. I also cut my hair twice and regretted both cuts. Now it’s back to the original length, and I am thinking to get another haircut. I guess there are things one will never learn 🤷♀️.
I still write. And this year, I have written more than I have written ever before (I am on my second Moleskine journal for the year). And I still blog. But instead of dragging my feet on KultureKween, like I had been doing the past few years BC (Before Covid), during my Covid year, I started this blog, pressed publish like a madwoman, with zero care about the SEO or the niche. I write about whatever I feel like writing, which made me feel like I turned back blogosphere time to the Live Journal era.
I entered my Covid-year by excessively checking the Worldmeter Coronavirus info every single day, and now I am in the midst of completing my #100HappyDays challenge. For that (kind of shift) I am grateful.
Most of us have adjusted to the new normal. I also know we are not out of the woods just yet. Still, with the rolling out of the vaccine and the discussion of travel bubbles, I want to think that we are nearing the end of Covid-saga. We are, dare I say, almost there.
Here is to the first and last Covid-year-versary! cin cin 🥂