White Rice and White Wine

If you were on the death row, what would your last meal be?

I reread the Skyped message that popped on my desktop screen.

It was from Pedro.

If it was anyone else, my reaction would either be “WTF” or “hu?”.

But coming from him, the question was as normal as a “Good morning“.

That’s how he usually greets me every day; with a question, more often than not, with bizarre ones. After all, our friendship is strongly based on life’s morbidness. We celebrate death, worship Kali, discuss heartbreaks, and quiz each other on serial killers trivia.

This is not an easy question to digest first thing in the morning.

I know that my last meal needs to be epic.

The thing is, I have way too many dishes I love so much; from Singaporean chicken rice, Indonesian nasi Padang to Indian dosa.

After wasting a good chunk of the working hour, I typed my answer.

I told him that if I were to face the death penalty (hopefully for doing something semi-heroic) my last meal would be a South Indian crab masala thali meal.

Then, I asked what would his last meal be. He replied almost immediately. Looked like he had put enough thoughts on this beforehand. “Vatapa”.

I remember Vatapa.

Pedro told me about Vatapa in the first week we were introduced. That time, out of sudden, he declared that he was missing his favorite Brazilian food and then proceed to show me this Vatapa picture.

I also remember thinking how it looked like my favorite prawn sambal, a widely loved Indonesian dish originated from the Sumatra region. I told him to bring back something next time he goes back to Brazil.

The last meal question lingers in my mind.

I wonder what would others choose, so I texted Fafa. Thankfully, he, too, is well versed with my cuckoo side, no explanation required.

At first, he said anything that his mom cooks. Well, that’s not how this works my friend! Otherwise, we all would choose our mom’s cooking. I told him his mom wouldn’t want to visit him after he committed such a heinous crime. He then settled with meen pollicithu with Kerala rice thali meal. Yum! I wouldn’t mind sharing his last meal.

Aww, the thought of couple’s last meals, how romantic.

With some more minutes to kill before home time, I pinged Manda, and asked her the same question. After giving a few judgy remarks, she replied with: sashimi for entree, hawker food as the main course, creme brulee for dessert, and a glass of mojito to wash it all off.

Damn, she is fancy! Especially when I thought she would settle for just laksa.

Then again, she had a point, why would I deprive myself of the pleasure of dessert and alcohol, my two life vices (among many), if it’s going to be my last meal?!

I pinged Pedro back to clarify that I would also have mango sticky rice for dessert and a bottle of Moscato as my last meal’s drink.

Loads of white rice and copious amount of wine. Yep. Seemed legit both for epic last meal and as the title of my memoir.

The Self Doubting Devil

When I drew The Devil card this morning, I was like whaaa??!

I wondered whether I jinxed my tarot reading by cutting or “modifying” it because I can’t relate to this card at all. Or maybe I didn’t want to!

I reviewed at the image: A couple getting caught having sex. If we really want to stretch it, maybe it’s about me?

feeling guilty doing something I shouldn’t be doing?

I drew clarifying cards from my super cute Lenormand deck: Child and Fish.

With that I went to work. My work day had been so hectic that I didn’t have time to mull over these card until tonight.

Only when I started journaling about these cards, it hit me. The Devil in tarot means:

Being prisoned by my own self-limiting beliefs.

Work came into my mind immediately. How the pending of my Permanent Resident application outcome has been holding me back to find another job. I then went ahead and checked my EOI score. 70 points! That’s enough for the application.

A self-doubt/limiting belief is broken.

It also reminded me of being a slave of my tendency of being a spendthrift. That I shall put a stop on it with self-control and discipline.

The Devil is the greatest level of manifestation because it’s ruled by the most grounding zodiac, Capricorn. It’s about challenge, control, power, making choices and enjoyment. The Devil can be seen as the schoolmaster who gives us an exam. It’s up to us to pass it or not. Other keywords include: fear, sex, passion, taboo, impulse, material success, (unhealthy) attachments, consequences, choices.

Work Date

Fitbit: 9,255 flat white: 2. One free. Wine: 3

I am drunk and I think two George Clooneys are looking at me. Today has been filled with so much fun stuff.

It started with an appraisal session in the coffee shop downstairs with Luiz. Everything is good. He said I was as expected as what people told him about me. I wonder what people told him about me. Then I stopped working from 4 PM and chatted with Manda and Che before knocking off by 5.30 PM for drinks.

The first stop was Arbory the longest bar along with Flinders St station. It was my first time there, but from the look of it, it has been my colleagues’ favorite. Arbory was filled with people tonight! Unfortunately, they didn’t have Moscato, but they had fresh oysters and I had just that. Lots of it. Because oyster is the bomb!

The second bar was Bar Deluxe. It’s where I am going to photography class on Sunday; not that I told them that. I don’t know why I downplayed my life. I haven’t even told them about Fafa yet.

Manda treated me to a glass of Moscato there before we wrapped it up and headed to a ramen restaurant which name I couldn’t remember now. We had ramen and yuzu plum wine. The ramen was acceptable. And now I am completely drunk. But not too drunk to get into my train that’s been passing by in front of me.

Steak Night

My work team has started a new tradition in the office. We go for a Steak Night night to the restaurant across the road on Wednesday night.

I don’t remember who started it except that one day, my then manager, LP, invited me to join them on Steak Night. In the beginning, it was every now and then, just the three of us. But it quickly escalated into an event with the whole team, sometimes with other teams, every Wednesday, with beers. Everyone has started to look forward to this. The conversation about Steak Night starts at 9.01 AM on the same day with one or two people come to inform me that they can’t make it while the rest say they will try. Somehow I always manage to convince all the parties, the ones I like, to come.

Me? I don’t need convincing. I always come, I like Steak Night; for obvious reasons, the $20 meat, and the booze and for not so obvious reasons, like how we grow closer together by sharing inappropriate stories and comments among colleagues, managers, and subordinates. Including someone who slammed the door on his sister’s new boyfriend because he was a team ex-boyfriend, someone who drove very slowly on a very narrow road, beside a cliff, in the snow, to get some, and someone else who slept with their manager. Hoyaa. Steak Night is the best!

Update 2018: Now that I am no longer working in the same department nor does any of my old teammates, the Steak Night is practically non-existent. Newman and I have been trying to revive this tradition by committing at least once a month to it, unfortunately, it’s not that easy now that he is no longer working for the company and I work normal hours.

Pressing Pause at The Lindt Cafe

Mood: Borderline
Food: Coffee (1), hot cocoa (1) and cake (1)
Location: Southbank Lindt, Melbourne, Australia
Weather: Cold and windy

I am hiding.

From responsibilities, from work, from colleagues and people in general, from reality ($5 in the bank account with three more days to go) here in South gate Lindt with a cuppa (hot cocoa) and a piece of cake (mango coconut).

I am not happy.

I am tired.

But can’t complain because other people have more on their plate than me. Well, at least my manager does.

I am thinking about the holidays — vivid Sydney, New Zealand and Jakarta.

So many plans, so little time and zero leave approval.

Morning Thoughts on First Day at Work

Yesterday was my first day at work in Melbourne and here are the thoughts that run through my mind before I settled into my work for the day. I documented in Evernote to share it share.

06.00 AM- Damn you alarm! Bye!

07.00 AM- I will read this article first before really getting up from bed.

07.40 AM- Welp, that was not only one article. Time to jump into the shower.

08.00 AM- Why didn’t I pack any sweater or scarf or socks or boots??

08.01 AM- Wait, I didn’t own any boots.

08.04 AM- *Found a sweater on the bottom of my luggage* Wheee!! It looked a little tattered, but that’s okay. A well-worn work sweater is a symbol of hard work, right?

08.10 AM- Damn, Melbourne is cold!!

08.11 AM- Cold.

08.12 AM- Cold.

08.13 AM- Sszooo cold.

08.25 AM- Did I just miss my train? Yes, I did.

08.26 AM- Ops, I stood on the wrong platform!

08.28 AM- Missed my train again!!

08.30 AM- Train at last!

08.31 AM  – Whoa morning crowd!! I never rode a packed train in Melbourne before. It is kinda cool and definitely not half as bad as Singapore’s morning crowd.

08.32 AM- This is it, I am officially a Melbourne yuppie.

08.33 AM- Umm, not really, the working ladies looked so fancy with their perfect/messy hair buns, sexy stockings, and 50 shades of gray coats. Me? I am wearing a cropped pants and carrying a flowery bag.

08.34 AM- Hey, where did the biker jacket lady get her coffee?

08.35 AM- Hmmm.. coffee.

08.36 AM- Hmm.. biker jacket.

08.40 AM- Wait, did they say Flinders Station just now?

08.41 AM- Cold

08.42 AM- But first coffee..

08.43 AM- So many coffee stalls to choose from! I will start from the first and work my way to the end every day of the week.

08.44 AM- First stall was a bad choice. This coffee tasted horrible.

08.45 AM-  I am walking to work with a coffee cup in my hand, such a strong female character in American TV shows of me.

08.46 AM- Let me take a picture of this gorgeous morning like these tourists are doing.

08.47 AM- F***! I spilled coffee all over my top! ON MY FIRST DAY OF WORK nonetheless, ^%**@@#$!!!

08.48 AM- I am so not gonna tell Fafa about it.

08.50 AM  – At least I can zip my jacket over it.

09.00 AM- ATM! Should I take some money first?  But I am already running late. But what if there is no ATM in my office building? It would be a bad move to borrow money from my almost strangers colleagues, wouldn’t it?

09.02 AM- Lunch money, it’s.

09.10 AM- Time to take lift selfie and send it to Amma.

09.13 AM- I am here! In the actual office 🙂

09.14 AM- And it’s too hot (and weird) to keep wearing my outer jacket. Do I dare to take it off?

09.16 AM- I do. I am brave.

09.20 AM- “Hi Luiz, I am not late, am I?” I so am, on my first day at work.

And then I realized…

09.21 AM until the end of my first day at work – FFFFF*** we are wearing the exact same clothes! Me and my male boss. A white shirt inside a gray sweater and black trousers. The only difference is his sweater is clean while mine is artfully decorated with a coffee spill.

Cried at Work Today

I cried at work today. I, with my uncombed hair, PJs pants, and inappropriate for worktop walked out of the office filled teary-eyed. It was the most terrible workday I had in my current job. It was my last day.

This job was supposed to be just a pit stop for me. I  remember going to the interview half-heartedly after almost canceling again it for the third time. I changed my mind quickly after that. Starting from the time I was interviewed by my now ex-manager and the boss. Both of them had completely different approaches and I liked them both immediately.

I told Fafa I am taking the job. “Are you sure you want to take another job? You will be moving out of the country soon“, he said. I said yes and sent the confirmation email to the HR that night.

There were seven ladies in the team taking care of three different functions. I was paired with Che, who is a rather friendly and enthusiastic girl compared to me.

I liked my colleagues from the very beginning, but based on experience and my own personality, I tried to keep my distance. My justification was that I was not one to mix professional with personal life. This attitude didn’t last long. In the past year, over frustrating excel, excessive snacking, and loud noise we built a strong connection. We celebrated Diwali and Christmas together. We wore color-coordinated tops. We went on vacation.

We were known as the team who always has plenty of food on our open desk at any given time. Someone would bring something from their home or someone would yell “let’s order something” by half of the workday. And this happened every single day. We grew fat and failed on many diet attempts together.

I introduced them to my parents (and vice versa) and I wanted to know all about their families. I missed them during the holidays and long weekends. I preferred to go to work on sick days. I even shared about this blog to them, a slice of my world that not many from real life know about.

In short, these seven ladies, who over the years changed to five ladies and three guys, have become more than just colleagues to me, they are my friends. And this job felt nothing like a pit stop, it’s more like a fun school where I went to learn about things that were interesting and valuable for me.

Ever since I told my team that I’ll be moving to another branch, in Melbourne, we have been celebrating my farewells. Yes, it happened on more than one occasion. Bandung trip was supposed to be the farewell weekend. Then there was lunch, drinks, bubble tea, Excellso choco-chips coffee dates, and every other lunch in between then and today. For me, it’s about finding excuses to spend more quality time with them.

I got farewell gifts from them. A clubbing bag (I guess now I have to brave myself to go dancing after 10 PM), a bouquet of flowers my favorite pastel colors. I also got a book from a colleague from another department, it came as a surprise to me, he definitely didn’t need to do it.

I also got the sweetest, most wonderful gift from Che, who put so much effort and made me a card/letterbox which I am looking at now. Geez, looking at it, I am feeling all mushy again now.

‘Thanks for being my second family here’, I texted them while holding back tears inside the building lift. So yeah, I cried at work today. It was my last day.

The Rise Of Communal Working Culture In Singapore

Hi you, the one in front of your laptop, have you ever felt like packing your laptop bag and going to someplace new sometimes?

Maybe it’s the writer’s block, PMS or boredom; whatever it is, you can’t be in your usual “workspace” for now. For me, it has happened many times. I’d be staring at a blank page for a long time or grunting at my friends’ Facebook timeline for hours. I’d have nothing done. If I catch these symptoms before going completely down the rabbit hole for the day, like binge-watching on YouTube, I usually go to the neighbourhood coffee shop. Sometimes I continue my work, sometimes I read for pleasure, other times I people watch. It’s better than sitting at home feeling useless. It has been the neighbourhood Starbucks for a long while, but on my last month in Singapore, I popped into Coffeemin Singapore a lot more than I’d like to admit.

Coffeemin Singapore is a business that rents out its cafe-like space for the public. Living in Singapore, we were forever lack of space to hang out. Living as an expat was even worse. Since I was renting a place, there were lots of tenant restrictions. Of my years living in Singapore, I can count with fingers how many times I have thrown a party and invited my friends to my place.

This problem usually would be resolved by appointing the nearest coffee shop to meet friends. Now, instead of getting a Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, nonfat, Caramel Macchiato for $6, we could go to Coffeemin and do our stuff. We could play billiards, use the computers, compete in video games or work on our laptop (wifi and charging port available). It’s ridiculously cozy with extra helpful staffs.

The last time I went to Coffeemin Singapore when I was waiting for Fafa to finish his workday. It was my last birthday in Singapore, and I spent the afternoon alone here, playing video games and getting high on Milo.

Wait, don’t feel sorry for me, I was perfectly entertained, wouldn’t want it to be any other way. The best part is they also provide hot beverages and some light snacks for free! All this for $6? Goodbye, regular coffee shop!

I wonder whether they have a similar concept cafe in Indonesia? If not, it could be a feasible business model. Hmm, now I need to find someone with overflowing Rupiah and propose this idea to them.

Unemployed in Singapore

Now that I am officially unemployed in Singapore these are the things I actually did, yesterday and today: Gamble. Because mama needs money now that paycheque ain’t going to come. Mama in this context is me; Stack up cat stationery from Typo; Pay the library a long-overdue visit; Hang out with the sharks in SEA; Enjoy some fun art.

Last Work Day in Singapore

I finally quit my job and served my notice period until yesterday, my last day at work.

A milestone, since I have been working there for a little over four years, whilst I had never even stayed for a year at my previous jobs. I recorded my own thoughts throughout my last day so I can look back and reminisce. I thought it would be fun to share the snippets here.

Alternative titles for this post: Freedom from the cubicle prison and creativity numbing desk job! or Glorious free time with dangerously decreasing moolah in my account.

1:03 AM – I can’t sleep!!

Tomorrow is my last day of work, and I have mixed feelings, thoughts, and images of an empty wallet and sleeping on a bunk bed (Military? Dormitory? Or prison??).

Fafa and Jik texted me earlier, cheering me up for tomorrow. Sweet of them. I know it means something to them also, as they are the ones I share my life with the most.

7:15 AM – Last Alarm

Alarm rings ngiiiii. Snoozed. 7:18 AM, and another alarm rings NGIIIIII. Snoozed. 7:25 AM, and the third alarm rings.

Work. Me. Human. Money. These words formed in my head. I reached for my phone, typed the passcode half-sleeping, and again and again checked the date. Just in case it was Saturday. Then I remembered that today’s the LAST DAY AT WORK. Urgh! Yay!

Urgh to waking up to go to work, and Yay for it being the last time I need to do it (for a while).

7:30 AM – Flipboard

The only thing that wakes my brain up on a workday morning is either reading articles on Flipboard or listening to my favorite TV show. Today I stumbled upon an article: I quit my soul-sucking job. “Hey, my article has been published,” I thought.  A second later, I realized “Hey, that’s not my writing!!” and another “Hey, I only drafted the article in my mind.” So yeah, it wasn’t mine, but it feels like she wrote this piece for me. Thanks Kaitlin! After reading it, I was ready to face the day.

7:50 AM – I’m ready

20 minutes and I am done with showering, clothing, and grooming. I don’t put on makeup to go to work. I tell people it’s because I am supporting the #nomakeup movement, but my mom simply calls it me being lazy.

I prayed for a steel mind and a blissful day for my soul (?). Sometimes I think God doesn’t listen to me because he is confused about what I asked for.

8:36 AM – Commute

Squeezed in between as a human sardine, I have been mulling over whether to write a farewell email or not. I mean, I like my colleagues and I already had proper goodbye lunches with them last week and most of them knew that today’s my last day, so do I still need to send a farewell email? Do I share my personal email address with 115 people? What if they send me their wee wee picture as a prank or worse a love confession? Am I thinking too much? But I still have a few more stops before the train reaches my workplace.

I googled Alexandra Frazen. The lady will know what to say in an office farewell email. The lady hasn’t written anything about the farewell email. Maybe I shouldn’t either?

8:51 AM – Breakfast

Hungry. What should I have as my last office breakfast?? Pancakes. Definitely chocolate pancakes.

I ordered and tried to make a small conversation with the aunty who practically fed me every morning for three years. She reminded me of the national day promotion next week. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that today’s my last day.

Feeling a little emo. Maybe it’s the hunger. Maybe I will come back next week to have the same breakfast and break the news to her. Again, maybe I am thinking way too much before 9 AM.

9:15 AM – Office

Reached to the office. I am late. Oh well, it’s my last day, what are they going to do? Fire me? Hehehehe…

9:20 AM – Gift

Found a gift bag from Books Actually on my table. Me likey! I took a peek inside. It looked like a notebook. Excited, I quickly kept it in my drawer. To be opened later. I guessed who it was from, and thanked them profoundly in front of everyone, only to be told that it wasn’t from them. I finally found out who the real giver was and thanked her through a Lync message instead.

9:24 AM – Email from Jik

Subject: Habah Habah

Body: I am emailing you because I can’t email you randomly here anymore.

9:30 AM -12.30 PM – Work like mad

During these hours, it didn’t feel like it was my last day at all.

12:30 PM – Toilet

I stole the executive restroom key and locked myself in. I wanted to draft the farewell email in case I decide to send it later. Last day, support, thank you, learned a lot, apology, keep in touch, future. All set, I think. I also googled things to do on your last day at work, but I didn’t do any of the fun stuff, lame!

12:41 PM – Team Lunch

The eleven of us ordered lunch and ate in the pantry. It’s very unusual, especially because the pantry can only accommodate six people. I’m sure they did it for me, which was sweet. We shared food, conversations, and laughter. The mood was definitely lighter, and now it feels more like my last day.

2:25 PM – A reminder

I stopped by at my best colleague friend’s cubicle to remind him not to send any off-color jokes to my email anymore because it has been diverted to my boss’s inbox. His reply: “I’m so going to flood her inbox with dirty jokes, you wait and see

Oh well, it’s no longer my battle. I am no longer a cubicle warrior.

2:30 PM – 5:00 PM – Work like mad (again)

I have half a mind to throw my pending works into the dustbin, but in the end, I handed them over to my colleague.

Fafa called. “One last call to this line before I delete the number” he said. I then realized I would no longer be related to these eight digits, which I have chanted more than a thousand times. I got emo again.

5:05 PM – Picture taking session

A few of my colleagues stopped by to take pictures together. I was shy but obliged anyway because again, it’s sweet of them.

5:10 PM – Goodbye

I walked around the office and said my goodbyes personally to the ones I have worked with, the ones I admire, and the ones I have formed friendships with. Got a bit more emo in the process.

5:23 PM – Work like mad (one last time)

Yes, I still had to finish a report before I left for good. Ah, never-ending things to do, I will NOT miss you.

5:32 PM – Farewell email

I finally clicked send. Farewell email, with my personal email info, sent to 120 people, and two-thirds of them were strangers.

A number of colleagues came to my cubicle to say their goodbyes, some hugged me, some shook my hand, some tapped my shoulder. Some replied to my email and some called my office line. Whatever it was, I truly appreciated their gestures.

6:18 PM – Out of Office

I asked the security guard to buzz me out. I choked when I said it was my last day. I walked out. Directionless. My heartfelt so heavy. I didn’t expect to be sad. I didn’t expect to get an overwhelming goodbye from my colleagues, either.

Apparently, there are people at work who liked me.

I texted Fafa and Jik:

It’s done. I made it through, and now I am free.”