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02/01 Direct Link
There's an app to help you count your days of nicotine freedom. My friend had no luck with it. I know that for a fact. The day she showed me her progress was the day she went back to square one—a night of alcohol-induced cigarette cravings. It’s been 31 days since my last stick. I know that for a fact, too. No apps involved. That one last drag was on the last day of 2015. And sure, I’ve “quit” a few times before. I guess the duration would just be easier to track this time around.
02/02 Direct Link
Groundhog Day’s storyline just had to make suicide seem like a norm, and satirically at that. What else can you do when you know that from the moment you wake up, you’ll have to live a particular day the exact same way for days and days? Try killing yourself…with hope that you might just wake up to a new day and with a certain level of confidence that you'll live...to wake up to the exact same day again. It’s February the 2nd. “Well, it’s Groundhog Day…again.” (And oh yeah, spoiler alert!)
02/03 Direct Link
My first "introduction" to climate change was during one of our trips to/from Victoria Island. To get to and from Victoria Island, we’d have to cross the Lagos Lagoon via the Third Mainland Bridge. It was a long stretch of water. Each time we passed, I’d notice a small chunk of land on a random part of the lagoon. It had no inhabitants. One day, our help pointed at it and said to me, “You see that island? It will disappear soon.” I think instead of asking why, I just tried to understand why on my own.
02/04 Direct Link
Ever since I turned into a pseudo-cosmetics junkie, playing around with lipstick colors has become one of my stress relievers. Since I have a cool undertone (a beige or pink-based skin tone), one (or the only) way to make warm shades like coral-y reds or peachy pinks look un-awkward on me is by “neutralizing” or “cooling” them. Add blue to orange-based pink and it turns into a purple. Add brown and it turns into a mauve. But, for the record, I actually don’t have blue or brown lipsticks for mixing. Thus, eyeshadow! (It's safe.)
02/05 Direct Link
“Dont kill yrslf with work, see wat it did me! Luv ya” was Daddy’s text today in reply to me saying I was tired and had things to finish. Would I really kill myself with work? I like work, especially if it’s something within my area of “specialization.” But when is "too much work" too much work? When you have an array of websites at your disposal, would browsing one or two (for non-work-related purposes) in the middle of work (not break time) be considered as rest or just plain distraction, an interruption to your mojo?
02/06 Direct Link
One perk of working the night shift is not having to deal with everything that consists of everyone else’s Monday morning, specifically the exaggerated rush-hour traffic of both vehicles and people. Monday mornings are equivalent to the night shift worker's Sunday evenings. One downer of working the night shift is not having to deal with everything that consists of everyone else’s Friday night, like feeling the truth to a “TGIF” expression at the end of a day. For those in the night shift, Friday sunsets symbolize a new workday (the last one of the week at least).
02/07 Direct Link
It’s fascinating how the simplest of dishes can be the most difficult to get right; for example, Filipino adobo. There’s no complicated list of ingredients—minced garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves, and pork and/or chicken (some boiled eggs, if you like)—and all you really have to do is chuck them into a pot until they all make sense to your taste buds. The first time I tried cooking adobo, it ended up like a dark Sahara on a plate—black, salty, and dry. The over-simplicity is still what intimidates me to try again.
02/08 Direct Link
Mao’s Three Worlds Theory took on a different meaning during the Cold War. A country was considered First World if it was an ally of the United States, Second World if it was an ally of the Soviet Union, and Third World if it was a neutral nation. Singapore was one of the latter. However, it didn’t want to be home to another U.S. military base despite all the courtship. So, to keep the Americans at bay, Singapore befriended their enemies—the Soviets. — Filed under “favorite unarchived historical facts/folklore"

Happy Chinese New Year!
02/09 Direct Link
In one episode of Seinfeld, Elaine finds out Dr. Whatley gave her gift to someone else. She is offended by the act and labels him a “re-gifter.” Gift giving can be a lot like gambling. You never know which card to deal unless you know what your opponents are holding on to. I don’t mind “re-gifting,” whether it’s my gift being re-gifted or it’s me getting a re-gifted gift. My grandmother always says, “If you don’t like it or you don’t use it, give it away as a gift.”
02/10 Direct Link
Some of my friends and I talk in what we call “baroque English.” But “baroque,” in this sense, doesn’t refer to the centuries-old art style. It’s a play on the Filipino word barok, which could translate to “broken”; thus, “broken English.” It became our own language of sorts—a combination of Singlish and Taglish with lots of truncated phrasing. When we all worked together as ESL writers, baroque English was a (good) challenge to our skills. In order to know the ways of good English, you also have to know the ways of bad English.
02/11 Direct Link
Have you ever come across someone so impressive, yet you never bother looking them up from the moment you first notice them? I came across Ryan Roche on one episode of The Fashion Fund. That was it. My knowledge did not go beyond that episode. I “rediscovered” her today via one of her spring 2016 designs. It’s not (yet) difficult to spot a Ryan Roche creation. If a minimalist dreams rosé and champagne-colored dreams, she makes them come true in cozy knitwear and cashmere. I’m surprised she still doesn’t have her own Wikipedia page.
02/12 Direct Link
A teaser on The Telegraph’s website is titled “How Eddie Redmayne became Hollywood royalty in 90 seconds.” Is it an exaggeration? Ninety seconds is enough for anything or anyone to “go viral” nowadays. And unlike Leonardo DiCaprio, it didn’t take Eddie Redmayne 30-plus movies to win an Oscar. (Note confidence of Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2016 Oscar win.) But when you click on the teaser’s link, it leads to a video of Eddie Redmayne’s road to fame summarized in 90 seconds. Apparently, punctuations, or a lack thereof, can do wonders for your acting career.
02/13 Direct Link
Paydays are on the 15th and 30th of each month. But, if either falls on a Monday, salaries normally get in early Saturday morning. The 15th falls on a Monday this month, but no one’s getting paid today. Our manager tried to jokingly justify this by putting the blame on the company’s alleged embitterment toward Valentine’s Day. Why rush in everybody’s pay slips a day before Cupid does his rounds? Well, at least I come home to a box of chocolates and my dad’s version of Kenny Loggins’ “Danny’s Song” playing in my head.
02/14 Direct Link
The way I feel about receiving flowers in public is very much similar to the way I feel about talking on the phone—a compounded formulation of dread, panic, and discomfort. The first time I got a bouquet of roses was at prom, in the middle of an isolated dance floor, the sound of my name echoing through the speakers, spotlight bright on my face, and the entire junior and senior high population looking on. It was a grand gesture, one that almost gave me a heart attack. But, I still think flowers are thoughtful gifts...to receive at home.
02/15 Direct Link
Although some people take pride in privilege, it is sometimes a form of embarrassment for the highly ethical and highly conscious. Privilege can either be earned or endowed. Nevertheless, the envied percentage of the world is not exactly envied for the fruits of their labor but for the freebies that require no effort. This is often where the holes of desire deepen and deservingness is questioned. There is always both a sense of triumph and a sense of guilt in being able to jump a queue and get coveted items without paying a dime. But which feeling outweighs the other?
02/16 Direct Link
I often wonder where writers get their vigor to write, their ability to grab an assignment by the balls and confidently gauge its complexity based on personal skill. I seem to have developed a trauma for writing over the years, which I am slowly trying to overcome (hence my struggling persistence and presence on this site). As of late, whenever I'm asked to write something, I get the same feeling I previously described re: flowers in public. How to "reacquire" the vigor? Sometimes you just have to stop caring whether or not people will think it's a half-assed job.
02/17 Direct Link
If there's a knowledge nugget that has rung of relevance from college to my current career path, it is the words of my editorial management professor: "The editor's job is invisible." If any, his or her existence is confined to a publication's masthead. No matter what is done to a copy, whether great or ghastly (or both), credit is never directly given to its editor(s). A byline is every author's superhero cape, a symbol of identity worn with confidence and regality in the blowing wind, not a blanket to share with their editor(s) when it gets too cold.
02/18 Direct Link
Art classes at my first secondary school were very advanced to a point of tears. Aside from learning techniques, we got into their technicalities. I was a crap art class student. I couldn’t (still can’t) draw, paint, or sculpt to save my life. In year eight, our final exam was to create a portrait of our teacher using any style and medium we wanted. I ended up painting a distorted black-and-blue mess, certainly not a flattering way of portraying a subject. But it was the piece that got me my first and last A in art.
02/19 Direct Link
I wasn’t proud of my black-and-blue mess of a portrait. I even felt slightly ashamed for creating such a likeness of our teacher. When I apologized, he said, “Are you kidding? This is beautiful. It's cubism. It's Picasso.” I was not sure how to react. I knew little of Pablo Picasso then. Even as I learned more about him, the statement is one that I still don't acknowledge as a compliment. Picasso was a longtime art genius with personal issues. My piece was a one-off to pass art class. I never picked up a paintbrush again.
02/20 Direct Link
Knell has asked (twice) if I would like to go to this year’s Art Fair. I have said no (twice). My decline of the invitation is not rooted in recluse, disinterest, or a sentiment about how art fairs have disrupted the gallery business model and viewing practices. I was recovering from “the mother of all boils” on my right armpit the last time I attended Art Fair. The queue at the elevator that takes you up to the carpark (because Art Fair is held in a carpark) was the longest I had ever seen for the “sake of art.”
02/21 Direct Link
Art fairs are typically social events. But when you attend one with an armpit boil, rubbing elbows with anyone or anything is off the to-do list. And yes, why go with a swollen ‘pit all drugged up on antibiotics and painkillers, anyway? Because art? (Truly, nothing says test of finesse better than the ability to withhold oneself from randomly screaming profanities in public during sudden stabs of pain.) If you barely meet the criteria of critic, enthusiast, or collector, how do you justify your presence as more than an onlooker at such events without being an "artist’s friend"?
02/22 Direct Link
You know what could beat the diversity in Keanu Reeves’s lineage (i.e., Lebanon-born Canadian of English and American parents with Native Hawaiian and Chinese ancestry)? Possibly anyone else’s lineage. I was practicing an amateur listening skill of deciphering regional stateside accents during a meeting with a gentleman whose speech was somehow trying to mask a recognizable American non-rhoticity. East coaster right off the bat. Where specifically? Sadly, I couldn't tell. But I just had to ask if he was Irish. He said, “Yeah, but you know, I’m from the States. I could be anything.”
02/23 Direct Link
Although high-end fashion houses have had the occasional just-in-time-for-Ramadan collection, how common is it for fast fashion brands (e.g., H&M, Forever 21, Topshop) to have a Muslim-wear section? Uniqlo had already launched a modest collaboration last year with Hana Tajima, an English Muslim designer and blogger of Japanese descent. The clothes are not as intimidating, price-wise and design-wise, as the recent Dolce & Gabbana collection of abayas. Tajima's line is beautiful effortless. Jubbahs and hijabs may signify religion, but she has made them versatile enough to respect culture and welcome diversity.
02/24 Direct Link
Fresh out of provincial college working as a magazine editorial assistant, I’d hear the word “peg” thrown around often. The image of a clothespin came to mind each time until I was able to appropriate the term to context (I wouldn't have seemed too bush-league if I just asked, right?). Lifestyle publications thrive on pegging. At the conceptualization table, “What’s the peg?” will always be asked (more than once). Even articles have pegs. Ideally, a peg should help express an idea and not be the idea. But pegs have become more of inspirations, "creative influences" in themselves.
02/25 Direct Link
My memory is like a low-lying island especially vulnerable to global warming. As much as possible, I try to put a date on anything. In terms of fashion sense, I can easily forget what I wore the day before and tend to recycle even with a half-full closet of freshly laundered clothes. To address this class of forgetfulness, I decided to start an #ootd-ish Pinterest board/diary. Instead of selfies, I pin photos of people in somewhat similar outfits and caption each with the date and a list of the clothes that make up my own ensemble.
02/26 Direct Link
What's the science of social media's detection, more like assumption, of your interests founded on? When it picks up what (it thinks) you like, it makes suggestions or populates news feeds with "related" interests. Ever since I began the #ootd-ish board, I keep being force-fed photos of Alexa Chung. I never really came around to appreciating Ms. Chung as a poster girl for “British Cool.” Social media power. It has you grow an interest for something you were never interested in. Now I know too much about Alex Chung—that a western-looking model with an eastern surname.
02/27 Direct Link
Saturdays have now become "detox days" from the daily caffeine dosage and dietary supplements. Thus, on most Saturdays, I transform into a useless, brain-fried, lethargic blob...no matter how much I try to disrupt the metamorphosis. It's almost like facing the ordeal of withdrawal symptoms on a weekly basis—sleep cycle reboots, scraps with awkward-hour "hunger pangs," and recuperation from long-standing headaches between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. From then on, it's just me internally kvetching about the lost day and trying to decide how to compensate for it with much get-up-and-go.
02/28 Direct Link
The creative process doesn’t begin with an idea. People will never run out of ideas, whether groundbreaking or derivative ones, as well as the “right” moods, settings, muses, and whatever it is that gets people inspired. The creative process begins with determination. An idea is merely flint for fire. The repetitive act of striking it on steel or stone is what starts the sparks, and determination is what gets the fire burning. The size of one's fire is not necessarily a reflection of determination. It is how long the fire lasts that is a testament of discipline and skill.
02/29 Direct Link
If I were to put a figure on the total amount of words I've churned out in the entire month of February, work-related text included, it would be approximately 5,000 words. This is not much for someone who considers herself a writer. Some can do a thousand words a day. Some just keep writing until their hands fall off. But for the people who love writing, fall out of love with it at some point, then try to find their way back into its arms again, a hundred words a day for one month is a significant achievement.