birthday date with myself

I turned eighteen on the 27th. Didn’t do much on the day, but was surprised with a wonderful party by my friends at my house which was so touching. 

Today, though, I decided to take myself on a little date and kinda just enjoy my own company for a bit. Also I wanted to get out of the house because I could slowly feel my skin grafting onto my bedsheets.

So my mum kindly drove me to this place in town with one of my favourite bookstores, Kinokuniya, armed with my Kanken bag and $100 in angpow money kindly given to me by my grandmother.

It was in a really upscale part of the city, and I didn’t really realise how underdressed I was until I stepped through the doors in slippers, a school shirt and shorts. 

I was a rubber slipper girl in a Louboutin world.

I decided to ignore this and headed straight to the bookstore and spent a solid two hours there, just reading and enjoying the books and the atmosphere in general.
Of course, I spent most of my $100 getting some books.

3/5 of them are by authors whose books I’ve never read before (with the exception of Jane Austen and Edgar Allen Poe), so quite happy.

I’ll do a little run-through of the books now.

One of my favourite authors!

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Jane Austen is one of my favourite writers- I mean, she’s up there with Dickens for me. In my opinion, she was a female writer ahead of her time- in a period of history where her sister authors were writing what were deprecatingly referred to as “novels”- a word that had very negative connotations because it referred to books that were considered “flighty” (basically, probably every romance novel today) and unworthy of being read by those who knew better, she wrote realistic and believable prose that managed to both separate itself from the over-romanticised and dramaticised love stories that saturated the market (think: The Monk) through its matter-of-fact portrayals of love and romance, while simultaneously supporting the rising genre of the “novel” which was not held in high esteem by the highly-educated and stiff-upper-lipped in English society. This is especially apparent in Northanger Abbey, which I am not ashamed to say I have read over twenty times.

Edgar Allen Poe, Tales of Horror

I believe there was another anthology of his called Tales of Something Else but I really can’t remember the name at the moment. It’s basically a collection of Poe’s short stories. I read some in comic version years ago in the children’s section of my library and I loved it, so I decided I would give it a try again in straight prose. 

I’m someone who isn’t too fond of change, so I re-read the same books over and over again until they are literally in tatters. I just find it comforting to have the familiar plot play out, in the words that I’ve long memorised. Gives me a sense of security, I suppose, because in that few hours of reading I am absolutely sure of the future.

W. Somerset Maugham, The Merry-Go-Round

No idea who Maugham is, read the blurb, read the first paragraph, and decided I rather liked it and it was coming home with me. 

N.B.: I was looking it up and I nearly got a heart attack when I read a review of the exact edition that I have which says that it’s not complete and the actual book is 400 pages long. Did I just get an abridged version? Quelle horreur! 

Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

It sounded like a very interesting premise, with a highly intelligent child and the murder of a dog involved. Although I am and can relate to neither of those elements in the novel, I found them very interesting and unique while still being realistic. I’m not usually one for high-fantasy or Sci-Fi or things like that, I like books that are based on and in real life on earth. Just personal preference, but I’m really trying to get into more fantasy novels lately like Lord of the Rings and the Song of Ice and Fire series. Plus I really liked Ready Player One which Booktube recommended to me. So I’m making progress! 

Anthony Mara, The Tsar of Love and Techno

I’m actually super interested in both Russian culture and history so if I see the word “Tsar” on the cover of a book I’m definitely going to check it out.

Now, after enjoying one of my favourite meals (Vegetarian Aglio Olio from this pasta place called Once Upon a Thyme, $6), I read a bit of Mansfield Park and am now studying.

Some might call it a boring way to spend an eighteenth, but I’ve never been one for huge birthday bashes. I do appreciate them, but mostly for the time I get to hang out with friends. Personally, the idea of having a “Sweet Sixteenth” or a really crazy, alcohol-filled “legal” birthday celebration isn’t very necessary, if you’re having one just because the movies and pop culture told you to and not because you genuinely want to. But if you want to go ahead and make your birthday special, by all means! It’s just not really for me. Everyone has their own ways of celebrating. 

Also, as I type, the sun is shining like crazy outside but it’s also raining. The person who came up with the idea to dub dark, cloudy, gloomy days “bad weather” has obviously never been in a sunshine-y thunderstorm, because those are the worst. In a normal thunderstorm you’re at least able to snuggle in your blanket and drink hot chocolate and be all poetic about the weather. But there’s nothing poetic about a sunshine-y thunderstorm. It’s just hot and wet and you can feel the humidity on your skin- the most accurate description I can come up of what being in a sunshine-y thunderstorm is like is, that it’s kinda like being doused by a bucket of lukewarm water while stepping into equally lukewarm puddles while wearing dry socks. Plus you’re inhaling steam with every breath. And you’re sweaty.

Basically, it really, really sucks. 

Overall, though, it’s been an amazing day. I’m home now and I feel really happy and satisfied with what I did, and even if other people may not have chosen to spend their birthday/money on the same things that’s fine because spending some time alone made my birthday special to me

I guess something I wanna say in this post is, don’t be afraid to hang out with yourself once in a while. If you don’t feel like you need to have an extravagant birthday party every year, if you don’t feel like you have to go out with 90278298 friends every time you leave the house, don’t do it just because it’s the “socially acceptable” thing to do.

And yes, there is a sort of- well, I won’t say stigma, but it’s more of an unwritten societal rule that it’s weird to hang out by yourself. It’s weird to walk into a restaurant and get a table and a fancy dinner for one. Passer-bys unconsciously give people who are sitting alone pitying looks. I felt weird the first time I decided to walk into a restaurant and get a table for one as well, but after a while I realised: if I’m so dependent on other people to have fun and be happy, can I really call myself a confident person? 

Part of learning to love yourself is learning to be alone. Sure, some thrive on company and friends and I, being a more extroverted person, certainly do. I just think that we should be able to say, “I love my friends and am blessed and thankful to have them, but I don’t need the presence of others to find myself interesting, smart, clever, or to feel appreciated or wanted, because I as a person am inherently all of those things.”

So yeah! Some thoughts on my birthday date with myself. I hope this kind of inspires someone to take themselves out as well! Let me know if you do end up trying it 🌸


2354 // Blogger Recognition Award

There isn’t actually a banner for this (that I’m aware of) but I decided to go ahead and make a simple one which everyone’s welcome to use!

Super honoured to have been nominated by Madi from Madi and the World for this! I really enjoy her blog because it’s very well put-together with amazing pictures and lighthearted writing. Her posts are super easy to read. Would definitely reccomend if you’re someone who’s interested in beauty and lifestyle blogs.

Here are the rules:

1. You must thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.

2. Write a post to show your award.

3. Give a brief story about how you started your blog.

4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.

5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give the award to.

6. Comment on each of the blogs to let them know that they have been nominated, and provide a link.

So I guess I’ll talk briefly about how I started this blog.

Nothing too exciting, really. It all began on a very rainy night right before school started. I was really bored, and decided that I would just start writing and see what became of it. So here I am, some weeks later, still trying to figure things out.

I don’t know exactly how I can help new bloggers, since I’m a new blogger myself, but I’ll try!

1) Don’t be afraid to write.

So many writers are afraid of being “too negative” or “too excited” or “too _____” on their blogs, that they end up toning it down and writing with the mindset that they don’t want to make others worry/let their readers know that they’re feeling down. Also, some may be wary of sharing their own views lest they be mocked by others for their beliefs. Just remember this: your blog is your blog, not your readers’, your “fans”, your family’s, or even your dog’s. This is a space for you to share your thoughts. A blog is, above all, a personal thing. You don’t have to write for your audience. I mean, you can, but don’t feel constrained by this to the point where you limit your self-expression. Be as passionate, as sad, as happy, or as excited as you want to be.

2) There is no “template”.

The second piece of advice I guess I’d give is: don’t try and follow a “template” when you’re writing your blogposts. Sure, it’s great to have a structure as a guide, but when people don’t dare to step away from this structure, I feel like that results in a lot of “cookie-cutter” posts that have lost the crucial thing that makes a blog post meaningful: the writer’s identity. You don’t need to post every day. Neither should you feel bad if you want to post twice, thrice, four times a day. Not all your posts need to be about a certain theme. Not all your posts need to have an aesthetic header image, chirpy greeting and loads of pictures. Not all your posts need to be five paragraphs long. Not all your posts need to end off with you signing your name with a “xx” behind. Now, note that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing all these things (I love it when posts are loaded with pictures, and I have a banner in this post myself). If that’s how you want to write, go ahead. But never force your writing to fit into a “mold” because you have no confidence that you can write a brilliant, original blog post- because you can. Find your voice as a blogger.

So that’s it, I suppose! Thank you Madi once again for nomimating me (linked her above) and thank you all for reading this far.

Now, the nominees! I’m sorry that there are less than fifteen, I’m still in the slow process of finding new blogs and people to follow. In fact, when I was first nominated, I followed in total less than fifteen blogs which is why I chose to wait for a while before posting the award. Some of the blogs here I’ve been following since I started blogging not-too-long ago, and some others I’ve only followed for a few days, but I’ve probably binge-read your posts so it’s all good.

  1. Hideaway Girl
  2. Chit of Acerbic Wit
  3. Alicia Parry Blog
  4. Mimmy Beauty
  5. The Monster Under My Bed
  6. P.S. It’s Peri
  7. Rose Tinted Pics
  8. Teenagers UNITE!
  9. Waves of Awesomeness
  10. Stellaxhsts

So yeah! Those are the nominees! Thank you once again to Madi for the nomination.


Ran 2.4 km today (in American terms, about one and a half miles) and it felt so good to finally break 14 min! Been trying so hard since secondary school to run faster, but it’s only this year that I’m getting serious about self-training. Good job to me *pats self on back* because we all need a little self-love once in a while. 

PLUS! As I was typing this we just got our configs and I’M IN K4! I’m so so super pumped right now, you wouldn’t even believe this has really made my night goodness me

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, a K4 is a crew boat with four paddlers, as opposed to a K1 which is a single-man kayak. A K2 is a double-man kayak.

I love sports. There’s a kind of beauty in its simplicity- on the court, nothing matters but the goal. There’s no drama to be resolved, there are no deadlines looming, there’s nothing but you and the game, you and your team, you and the sweat and exhaustion dripping from every pore in your body until the final whistle blows and you know that you’ve done your best. Sports lets you let go. 

1801 // texts

scene: a classroom. Fans whirring. Pens clicking. Teacher nattering. Otherwise- dead silence.

Girl, about eighteen, stain on her shirt, crumpled collar, rumpled spirit. Glances around. Takes out phone. Begins texting. 

get me out of here omg 

Girl puts phone facedown on desk. Seconds later, phone buzzes. Phone is picked up. She glances at the screen, reading the message.

– ten more minutes.

– it’s been, like, ten days and she still hasn’t shut up

– u got this

– no i don’t

– yes u do

– no i don’t i’m about to die

– really?

– yea

– oh.

– i’m serious i wanna kill myself

– u don’t have the guts

– try me

Phone goes silent. Two minutes later, screen lights up with a new message.

– people can do anything they set their mind to

– except listen to her 

A pause. The girl looks up. The teacher has stopped talking, is looking at her. She puts the phone in her lap. Teacher turns back to board. Girl picks up phone again.

almost got caught. 

– serve u right

– ok????? rude much

– i was joking.

– i hope u get caught texting

Silence for a while.

– same.

– lol what 

– imagine if someone walked by me right now

– lol you’d be screwed

– maybe. 

– u know u would be.

– btw i was joking about u getting caught 

– i know. Where r u now

– idk. 

– ? 

– i kinda just wandered here.

– what do u mean

– idk where i am.

– ?? how can u not know. r u in school

– no.

– what why

– i’m just kidding.

Phone goes silent for the third time. The girl waits, eyes narrowed, at the phone screen. Did her friend cut school? Then, a message pops up.

– i was joking. i’m in maths.

– damn. 

– yea. Sucks. 

– life sucks.

– yea.

– what topic?

– why do u need to know

– i’m just curious

– oh.

Phone falls silent again as the girl waits for elaboration. She scratches her nose, then picks up her pen and draws a squiggly line across the paper to pretend she’s doing something. Phone buzzes.

– do u ever feel like

– ?

– do u ever feel like

– what

– like

– ?? 

– nvm.

– tell me!!!!

– like your life is so meaningless 


– like no matter what u do you’re never gonna get anywhere or do anything 

– i mean i’m in physics right now

– but i dont mean that kind of thing, i mean… have u ever felt like u just couldn’t take any more from life and you’ve failed so many times at everything you love and

– and?

– and that everything was so unfair and that you just kinda wanted to

– ?

– nvm lol. Maths vibes

u ok? 

– yea i’m fine. go back to work.

– u sure u all right? 

– i will be, just need some time

– see u in the canteen? If u have time

– ok. See you.

– deal? Don’t abandon me like u did last time

– i’ll consider

– u better not

Girl puts phone back on the table. She is mildly worried, but brushes the feeling aside. It will pass.

Scene change: a rooftop. It’s early afternoon. The air is hot and full of birdsong and the smell of pollution. 

Another girl is there. Tall, big eyes, slippers. Hasn’t brushed her hair. Her phone dangles thoughtfully from her fingers and sweat clings to her neck. She steps forward, looks down. Blinks. Looks at her phone. Thinks a moment. Types a word, and deletes it, and types it in again. Drops her phone on the ground. It cracks.

A bird swoops past. The girl hesitates. Another bird flies past.

The girl squares her shoulders, and takes a deep breath. Chokes on it and the weight of her decisions. She clenches her fists. They are trembling. The girl lets out a breath. Steps forward.  Joins the birds in their flight. 

. . .

Phone lies on the ground, broken screen, but with the texts still legible. If you picked it up, you’d be able to read the last message she ever sent.

sorry man, i ran out of time.

1530 // Singapore Canoe Marathon 2016

On 15 January, 9:00 a.m., it was finally time for us to take part in our first actual race: the Singapore Canoe Marathon, or, as we called it, SCM.

We didn’t win anything besides one prize, a first place for the girls’ K2 event, but I still felt really proud of my team and the effort they had put into both preparing for the race and finishing it well. 16 km (for girls) and 21km (for guys) is really no joke, but I think my school made a pretty good showing, especially when the boats made their final sprint towards the finishing line. 

The guy captain’s boat!

I wasn’t able to participate in the marathon, so I and the C-boaters (basically the paddlers who use C-boats) signed up to volunteer our help for the event. It was pretty lit. Like, literally lit because we spent something like six hours on the pontoon under the sun.

My feet are the slippered ones lol

The thing about canoe marathons (and, I’m guessing, any marathons) is that all the action is in:

  1. The first twenty seconds, or
  2. The last twenty seconds.

Because those are the only two times the boats are in sight. 

Despite being exhausted, sunburnt and very sweaty, though, it was kinda fun.

we set a paper boat free onto the river (but threw it away afterwards because pollution is bad)
The morning sky was really pretty

The only thing was, that my teammates and I had opted to stay over at on-site because we didn’t want to have to travel all the way there, so naturally, we got almost no sleep. I don’t have pictures, but we were basically screaming and running around in at two in the morning. The boys had their shirts off and one of my friends blasted music from his speakers as my other friend pushed him around in an abandoned shopping cart they found in some shady industrial unloading bay. A worker there saw them take it, but it was like half-past one and he kind of looked at us with I’m not paid enough for this written all over his face and walked away. 

Then at about three-thirty, we went back to the sleeping area and someone produced poker chips and cards, so we sat down for a game. 

(fake) money was made that night

We ended up playing until four-twenty, and considering it was my first time playing poker I didn’t do that badly.
After that, we went to sleep, and were unceremoniously awoken an hour later by someone’s hideous alarm. I thought I was dreaming at first but it was, sadly, time to get up (I forgot to mention- reporting time was 6:15 a.m.). The boys had all forgotten their toothbrushes, so they just sat in a circle to play poker with unbrushed teeth which was so gross. 

Then, it was time to get out and do our jobs.

these boats were in charge of monitoring the course, to make sure no one died I guess

The leftmost guy is a C-boater. See how he’s kneeling and not sitting?
Setting off.
There were some dragon boats tied to the pontoon, which was pretty cool.

By the way, I’m not sure how many other countries have dragon boating, so I’ll just briefly explain.

They’re basically gigantic kayaks with room for ten or more people. The people row in pairs, one paddling on the right side while the other paddles on the left. The sport requires crazy strength and mental willpower because literally the entire objective of it is to drag yourself, your teammates, and a 250 kg boat across 1000m of (probably very choppy) water in the shortest time possible. The originated in China.

There are different stories among us Chinese as to the origins of dragon boating, but to the best of my knowledge it commemorates Qu Yuan, a high-ranking, loyal official who fell out of favour with the Chinese Emperor and was banished. In grief at the state of his country, threw himself into the river. The common people, who respected him, rowed boats out to find his body and threw rice dumplings (粽子) overboard to prevent fish eating his body. I honestly don’t know how this ties into dragon boat races, but that’s the story I grew up with. This is also the reason we have rice dumplings when we celebrate 端午节, which is the name of the festival to commemorate Qu Yuan. 

So, after that totally irrelevant and uninteresting segue…

posted this picture on my instagram! @_brocccoli

There were all kinds of boats that I’d never actually seen in action before, like the surfski (sadly, I have no pictures) and what we call outriggers. 

Outriggers have a thing attached to the main body of the kayak.
Outriggers waiting to go on water.

Also, I recognised a lot of people that I usually see at the river where I train.

Like this lady.

I was pretty excited to see a female C-paddler (the one kneeling upright) because at the inter-school level, we don’t have a category for female C-paddlers. I would use a C-boat if I could, but sadly we aren’t given the choice to.

Sit-on-top kayak.

The national team had some really cool kayaks with designs on them, like a spiderman symbol or stars. One was decorated like the Flash’s suit.

People carrying their kayaks to the launching area.

All in all, I came back very sunburnt and very tired, but it was a good experience. Would do again.

Plus, I got a free T-shirt! And I managed to buy the “Life’s Short, Paddle Hard” shirt that every kayakist has in their arsenal of canoe-related wear.

1447 // exercise and effort

Recently I’ve really been losing motivation at a horrendous rate. I’ve played sports almost my whole entire life (netball for seven years and I’ve been in canoe for one and a bit) and I’ve always taken naturally to an active lifestyle. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t wake up at 7:00 a.m. at least three times a week during the holidays to get ready for training, and now I have to get up at 7:00 on Saturdays, too, because of canoe.

I think this is probably a really common issue faced by a lot of amateur sportspeople out there. There’s always this sense of being initially super pumped for training and improving yourself, but after a while, you kind of hit this “wall” where you don’t seem to be making any significant progress and you start losing the drive to train hard.

For me, as a person with very low physical and mental stamina, training becomes a chore real fast. I start dreading the mornings, dreading the days I have to hit the gym even though my muscles are still aching from all the rowing I did the day before.

I attribute part of this problem to the fact that I am a person that picks things up relatively quickly. Maths concepts, books that are hard for people to understand, different sports. Whenever I start out something new, I make really fast progress for a while with minimal effort, but then after I hit the point where natural aptitude doesn’t matter any more and real, hard work has to come into play, I tend to give up. Which is why I am currently, from being one of the fastest in my team, now one of the slower ones. That’s why, when my juniors join us in a few weeks’ time, I’m going to tell them that it doesn’t matter where they’re starting from: whether they have experience or no experience, whether they’ve been in sports before or not, whether they’ve even exercise before or not. Because it’s not about where they’re starting from, it’s about how much effort they’re willing to put in.

Canoe is an incredibly demanding CCA, even in the highly competitive landscape of Singaporean sports CCAs, and I have never experienced such intense physical exertion during trainings in all my short life. In the past year, I’ve run more, sprinted more, sweat more and come closer to dying than I ever did during the seven years I played netball.

But I’ve also learnt so much more. I learnt that the body is capable of almost anything the mind tells it to do. I’ve learnt that, with a strong and bonded team, running 11km under the scorching sun becomes somewhat more bearable. I’ve learnt that you’ll never regret pushing- you’ll only regret not trying hard enough.

Still, I’ve really been losing steam. Hopefully some of you guys can sympathise with me. I’m really going to try harder, because I feel like I’m really letting my team and my juniors down if I don’t push myself to get better and better every day. Plus, my coach has put us on a food ban, meaning that we now have extremely restricted diets, and the lack of sweet drinks in my life is taking a toll, man, it’s taking a toll. But I really want to be able to stick to it. Wish me luck guys.

“It comes down to one simple thing:  How bad do you want it?”

More thoughts about training.

When you join a sports CCA (for the non-Singaporeans, CCA stands for Co-Curricular Activity and they’re basically after-school activities. Most Singaporean students participate in at least one), you’re basically making a commitment to do your best for your team and your school. So those people that don’t put in effort really need to step up their game. I understand that training is tough, and to be honest there are loads of better things you can do with your time like study or hang out with friends, but when the whole team is working their ass off to make sure we don’t disappoint our:

a) Team
b) Coach
c) Selves

I really don’t understand what makes people think they have the right to slack off and not give 110% in every training.

There’s a huge difference between being good at a sport and working hard for a sport. Since my netball days, my coaches have always told my teams that they never cared about how good we were, only about how hard we were willing to work.

There’s a guy in my team who could be so fast if he wanted to, but he just misses way too many trainings to the point where his technique is honestly really bad. If you aren’t going to commit and contribute to the CCA you’re in, what’s the point of remaining in it? How can you look around you and see your teammates putting in everything for their sport, and continue to put in so little effort to better yourself? I get it if canoeing really isn’t for some people, and I’m not one to judge people that quit the CCA because I understand it’s really very taxing, but if you’re going to remain in the CCA, it’s kind of expected that you put in some work, y’know?

When one of the guys left the CCA, we found his paddle in the shed and realised that he hadn’t paid money to get a grip for the shaft. My friend took one look at it and said, “he literally put nothing into canoeing. Not his time, not his effort and not his money”. Which was pretty true, but he quit so at least my coach wasn’t wasting time and we weren’t wasting a boat on him.

Just some random thoughts. 

I can’t wait to start sprint trainings. So far it’s just been mileage (meaning that we go for really long distances to build endurance for the marathon instead of training our sprints for racing) and I absolutely hate mileage because my endurance is really bad. I die at about 6 km. My sprints are much better, but still not that good. My secret dream is to paddle in a K1 boat for competitions, but considering my lack of experience and how competitive that category is, I think I’ll be in a K4 crew boat. Which is okay by me, at least I still get to paddle!