It's official

Written on 2/28/2012 10:03:00 pm by Cheryl

No, I'm not getting married. But I have my own domain now.

I now write at Things are still pretty spartan over there but I'm doing what I can to furnish things up.

I started this blog(spot) years ago to practise writing before I did the career change. I will preserve this website as a reminder of that season in my life. There are quite a few laughable episodes in the earlier segments of these archives, times where I desperately needed to find something to smile about. And I'm glad I made the effort to pen those moments down. That very practice, the principle behind the decision, changed my life.

So, off we go, brand new spot, brand new approach, brand new season.

Here comes 2012

Written on 1/02/2012 02:44:00 pm by Cheryl

Happy new year, everyone!

My last post was over a year ago. Sorry for the pause guys. I was in the bathroom.

I took the past few weeks looking back at how I spent the year and it just came crashing down on me that I did not take the time to document the unbelievable experiences I've had! In my defense, the thought of coming home to blog after a long day of interviews and writing or even travel can often be very, very unappealing.

But bless those of you who have been checking in and nudging me about this. I really appreciate the encouragement. Writing professionally has been nothing short of a joy that I wake up to every single morning and I cannot thank God enough for it.

I started blogging a couple of years back with the sole intention to practise writing but my hobby grew into something I felt could earn me a living ... and it has. When I look back at my posts, I remember the points in my life when I wrote them - I wasn't always feeling very upbeat or positive, but many times, those experiences made me laugh, people made me laugh, and writing about them reminded me that there were people out there who could be feeling just as glum or beaten. But they might feel better after reading something laughable or inspiring about someone else. I know that sometimes I turn to certain reading materials for that very reason.

This year looks very exciting and you will find out why in the posts to come.

In the meantime, I'm preparing my own website - I AM EXCITED ABOUT THIS - at a secret location which I will soon disclose.

I can promise you more updates and interaction. And I guarantee you'll come back for more.


Scratched eye

Written on 11/12/2010 12:49:00 am by Cheryl

Have I told you about the time my left cornea got scratched? That really hurt!

It happened at the Forbidden City. After I purchased my flat shoes. I'd been in line for two things - entrance ticket and an electronic navigator for the inner city tour. I got the pass- a palm-sized square cardboard - and the device which is basically a squarish plastic gadget with headphones and an LED map on the back. Pretty neat stuff.

I'll describe the scenario at that time. I was standing amidst a mob of Chinese people and let me say something about the mainland breed (and east Asians in general) - they have a very interesting concept of personal space, in which they leave you with none. So you're either sandwiched between 10 Chinese people, or 30, and there are about a further three thousand more surrounding you guys. I had two bags on me - one on each shoulder - a heavy overcoat, the device slung over my neck with its ill-fitting headphone over one ear, sunnies lopsided on my face, hair an intricate network all over, ticket in one hand and a camera in the other.

It happened just as I stood before the gate before handing the ticket to the guard. The earpiece was falling off again as I was trying hard to listen to the voice which at that time was explaining something interesting about one of the nearby structures. My sunnies was falling off too. So were my bags. So I reached up - one hand to readjust the shades and the other to straighten the earpiece and that's when a corner of the ticket in my left hand made a clean flick right over my left eyeball. Folks, the pain was instantaneous. And lasting.

My initial reaction was to cup my hand over the the other eye and see out of my injured eye to be sure that it wasn't blinded. Mercifully, not blind but tearing rivers. Next, I reached in and tapped the eyeball gently with my finger just to make sure that it wasn't bleeding. Not the most hygienic thing to do but I needed to make sure. My rationale was quite simple: Rush to the hospital for treatment if there was blood but since there wasn't, I was quite happy to go about my day at the ancient district and head for the airport thereafter.

But oh my poor eye. It teared all through the day and got really bad during the flight home - the cabin pressure had made it worse - and continued to tear as I went to bed and woke up in the morning. The eye had gotten really light-sensitive and for most of the six-hour flight, I sat with a wad of tissue over my eye as tears (from a single eye) streamed down my face. I received kind smiles from the cabin crew who must have felt sorry for the poor lassie with the broken heart. And when the entertainment box set reached me, I listened to movies with my eyes closed. For some reason, my right eye had started tearing as well and that's when I grew concerned.

Anyway, after a quick consultation at the eye hospital the next morning (to specialists, corneal grazes like these are as insignificant as chipped nails), some antibiotics, lubricants and a three-day healing process, my eye's all good now. I think I've been extremely fortunate to have not scratched the pupil for the laser check revealed that the scratch missed the centre by several mm.

Thanking God that the cornea happens to be the fastest healing tissue in the body.

Happy feet

Written on 11/08/2010 06:12:00 pm by Cheryl

Do you ever wonder if you can be highly unfashionable and happy at the same time? I've asked myself this and yesterday, around 9.30am, I realised that YES, it's absolutely possible.

Work recently had me travel to Beijing for three days and because I knew the agenda was to be quite packed, I thought it was be a good idea to travel lighter, which in this case meant bringing less shoes. Usually, I pack an extra pair or two, including a pair of sport shoes for a quick workout in the morning. But this time, my stroke of genius said Hey, why not just bring the one pair that I wear and keep it on there and back. And hey, of all the comfortable shoes in my keep, why not wear that versatile and smart-looking pair of boots without bringing another? The one that I know starts to hurt after a few hours. In hindsight, I cannot imagine my rationale for wanting to travel light because I had extra baggage allowance allocated for me. Perhaps it was because back when I was younger, I was teased plenty for packing more options for overnights and travels. An extra shirt or two may seem redundant but when your friends decide to slather cream and eggs all over you or if you slip and fall into a pond or want to lose that sweater for a T-shirt, you'll have options in your bag - not that any of the above ever happened to me.

When I was packing for this trip, I remember thinking that since I would in contact with business associates all the time, it would be good to not look sloppy in flats at any point. (Flats, in my opinion, are a necessity for everyday wear especially if your work requires you to scurry around all day. They can be pretty and exquisite and fashionable, but they offer no height and I'm not one for standing beneath the armpits of Europeans when I converse with them.) Flats are also great if you're tall. But if you don't have the gift of height to your advantage, a decent pair of two-inch heels is always necessary. Bring them everywhere with you. If on tiptoes you stand at five feet, it's quite imperative that you learn to use five-inch heels comfortably and develop a really charming personality. (Having said that, if you're already in possession of the latter, you can get away with anything.)

So, bottom line, I kept my four-inch boots on throughout. By the second night I was fighting back tears. So, the next morning, during my excursion to the Forbidden City in Beijing, I made a beeline for the first souvenir peddler I saw and purchased a pair of flats. I didn't even bother to bargain with the peddler. I gave her the money and came close to hugging her for saving my life.

A stall of sorts at the Forbidden City in the Tien-Anmen district

Instant relief: A highly unflattering shot of my relieved feet

And because of that, I could enjoy my two hours at the Forbidden City. As you see in the photo, the pavement isn't exactly heel-friendly. It gets even worse further down - filled with dips and cracks. (By the way, did you know that I'm a great descendant of the Emperor Pu Yi of the Qing Dynasty? But that's a story for another day.)

So the moral value from this: Pack extra shoes no matter what. And don't let your ghosts from past travels stop you from bringing what's necessary. At any point in time, a pair or heels, flat shoes and flip flops must be securely tucked into the suitcase.

Drugs made my brother funny

Written on 10/23/2010 07:12:00 pm by Cheryl

I'm sitting now in the KL Sports Medical Centre having waited out my brother's arm operation the entire afternoon. He's out now and his arm's looking good. Nevermind that he was acting like a drunkard when we came to 15 minutes after the surgery. Now I know why hospitals usually confine post-op patients for at least half an hour before releasing them to their rooms. We caught him before the drugs thinned off and it was hilarious!

My brother was scowling when the nurse led us to him in the bay. He seemed really restless and...squirmey...and rather much like a drunk.

"How are you, Gene," we chorus. My dad had chirped, my sister purred, my mother cooed and I just barked at him.

He tries to sit up. "Huh? I, uh... I'm still unconscious,"he replies. I know my brother and this isn't one of those times he tries to be funny. "Is the doctor here? I have some very specific questions for him.

"Yes, son, how can I help you? Are you in pain?"

Eugene nods and tries to get up again. My sister pushes him back down firmly.

"What did you do to my arm?"

"We've straightened out your bone and it's looking good, son."

"Uh, how *slur* did you do it?"

"We cut your arm open..."

"You cut my arm???"

"Yes, we cut it open and..."

"Cut with what?"

"Don't you worry about that, son. The plate is in and your arm will be perfect in no time."

"Oh," he says gravely. Then he relaxes and seems to accept the explanation.

Not for long.

"Doctor. What are the results of my operation?"

Doctor flashes him the thumbs up sign. "All was great, boy. You're good as new."

"Oh," my brother replies seriously, a look of understanding on his face. Then he slumps over to one side and sighs.



"How is my arm?"

And so we listened to another three sets of my brother's repeat questions.
All this while I was giggling like a school girl in a corner. It was just funny listening to the conversation go that way.

The great east asian cuisine

Written on 10/19/2010 12:52:00 am by Cheryl

Yesterday evening, after swimming I got home hungry as a horse. Swimming in icy cold water after a thunderstorm will do that to you. When our maid told me we were gonna have Korean for dinner, I let out a loud whoop (in my head) and fairly leapt up the stairs to my room for a nice, hot shower, all the while imagining tucking into my meal. Korean's always great. A simple yet expansive cuisine of appetite-whetting delights. It's the sourish, spicy tang; always makes you want more. The more you eat, the hungrier you get!

I envisioned a piping hot spicy soup, tender strips of lamb, lots of kimchi, marinated noodle and a plate of succulent roast pork perhaps. My mummy's a great chef and this would be one of those meals one never forgets.

My parents were already seated when I got there.

And there, in a porcelain bowl, layeth my Korean meal: A steaming bowl of Korean instant noodles.

Fools of sorts

Written on 10/16/2010 11:31:00 pm by Cheryl

As a journalist, I meet people of sorts on a daily basis. Like a box of chocolates one samples, there are the sweet, the rich, the the bitter, the funky and occasionally, the stale and dull.

Very recently, I met a man at a function whom I really wished would spend just a little more time developing himself. I was going around getting acquainted with the socialites when I came across two men engaged in a light conversation. The geeky one informed me that he was company staff; the other, I noticed, was a guest, and from his foolery, tipsy from the drinks of the night.

Now, I have a few, specific problems with people who talk stupid. Tonight, to commemorate the fools I've recently met, I shall simply name a few:

1. The type that expects me to know who they are and what they do without tellinng me.
The media's job is to sniff out a good story, sink their teeth into it and announce the truth. Not follow the trail of flashy, self-indulgent socialites. If you fancy a following, blog your thoughts and activities, then count your hits. And bear in mind that 40% read what you say just to disagree. Or laugh behind your back.

2. The type who refuses to reveal his name or profession even after being asked repeatedly because 'oh-you-don't-know-who-I-am'?
This just adds weight to the saying 'there are no stupid questions; only stupid answers. Offering an annoyingly immature answer one time is bad enough. Doing it repeatedly is begging to be tagged as an individual with subnormal intelligence. The gentleman I spoke with that night successfully earned himself that spot in my mind. If you're a teacher, say "I'm a teacher". If you play music for a living, say "I'm a musician". Try it. There you go. Three pats on the back.

3. The sort of employee who attends company functions and does...nothing.
I know, let's face it, who enjoys events. Unless they're launching something like, say, the IPHONE4? I understand. But if you're representing a body, trust me, your guests will appreciate your getting involved. People come to network. And invited medias are there to interview the right people with enlightening comments. So if a member of the media asks a question, like WHO THE HELL IS THIS GUY, you, the host, shall state the name of the guy. Yes, just that. Not tell me things like:

- Oh, I'm surprised that you don't know him
- You don't know him? He's really well known!
- Why don't you ask him? (I already have, you moron. He's drunk and talking stupid, that's why I'm asking you... which is a mistake because you're not even drunk but sound so stupid)
- That was awkward that you didn't know him. (No, not awkward at all. I wasn't, and neither was the fancy gentleman. But you twit you should feel awkward because on a scale of intelligence with 1 being the highest and 10 being the lowest a human can possibly achieve, you are definitely a high 15.)

This guy here did not impress me. Nuh-uh-uh. What he really did was impress upon me that no matter where we go, fools exist.
And friends, as a parting word; wisdom does not come naturally with age.

So, in conclusion, you want to know what I did? Would you have thought me to be the sort who'd walk up to someone's superior and toss in some negative feedback?

I'm glad, because that's just not my style.

I simply smiled at him.

But not with my eyes.


A photo with Karen Mok

Written on 10/14/2010 01:21:00 am by Cheryl

Check this out - a picture with the spunky Karen Mok. I'm in Singapore now for the launch of one of the leading diamond experts and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this celeb would be officiating. Managed to catch her for this shot after all the other medias had finally left her alone. (By the way, I realise that I look very wide and very greasy-faced (darn the flash!) in the picture. But this is how I console; myself: It's not that I look bad; Karen Mok just looks REALLY good.)

I wouldn't call myself a die hard fan. An admirer of her sense of style, yes; her unabashed sense of comedy in movies, yes.

Getting this shot with her was painful, in every sense of the word. I'd wanted a shot with her but she was being whisked around so I waited and kept busy by interviewing other people. About 45 minutes later, her interview still ongoing and my team faint with hunger, we made for the restaurant - a good 12-minute walk within the Marina Bay Sands. It was that walk that had me painfully aware of the fact that all eight stones of my body weight had been sitting on the arch of my toes for the past two and a half house. I'm a flip flops girl, mind you. Anything beyond two inches begs for trouble. And possible tripping and then a broken head.

When we reached the restaurant, hardly had I caught my breath when one of the guys informed me that KM was available for pictures. So I went with him. The same long walk back from where we came from. And into a quiet room that reminded me of an Underworld den, where the celeb sat unwinding from the noise and lights.

So here we go (see our faces here. A forced smile on mine amidst the pain (Have you counted the times I mention the word 'pain'). I could have sworn that my pumps were filled with my blood. And the lovely Karen Mok; face aglow. She was wearing some pretty high heels too. Unlike me, she's been doing this a long time - wearing uncomfortable shoes, that is. She probably can't even feel her feet anymore.

Time to sleep now. A long day of eating and relaxing tomorrow!

Back from the East coast

Written on 10/05/2010 01:33:00 am by Cheryl

And so it will happen once again tonight that I will fall into a deep, restful sleep just as I did yesterday. And Saturday night. I'd woken up on Sunday morning to the sound of waves washing ashore while I lay on a plush bed in a beautiful resort room- might I mention that it was way past the time I was supposed to get up - thinking that that was indeed the best sleep I'd ever had.

It's been a week of work-related travels but the one I just came back from this weekend, is one of the best work trips one could possibly dream of. Just imagine a beautiful beach, crystal clear waters, a gorgeous and peaceful resort with impeccable service, delicious food, great company, a sunny sun, cool evenings from evening downpours... and check this out, folks: This was part of my work!

I was happy to be there, and for three days, immerse myself in the moment, soak in the pleasures and shove everything else out of my mind. And that I did, yes, I was a total beach-loving, life-living summer patron.

It's a busy month with lots of movement and scrambling to put my thoughts together to churn out the pieces. Some days are more difficult than others, when my mind is so cluttered that I don't know where to begin. Weaving a story together can be draining.

I travel again this weekend and next week.

For now, I leave you with these:

The Eastcoast-ern version of the Western fish n chips, only better: Tender fish with an amazingly yummy crunch with Thai-sauce. And the chips replaced with keropok!

The original lekor. What's Malaysia without it???


We cleaned the beach and seabed!

A beautiful day

After a night of absolutely sinful culinary indulgences, this was my breakfast. Plus one little piece of hash brown you see behind. Awesome!

The happy camper.

Missing my cat

Written on 9/29/2010 04:37:00 pm by Cheryl

Kuching airport, 5.25pm

I went to bed early yesterday night - the earliest in months - at 12am but my mind woke me around 3 and kept me up for about two hours. I lay in the dark thinking, aching, feeling the weight of the grief that has yet to ease. Grief is such a big and inevitable part of this life that just sucks the air out of my chest and leaves me feeling like I've been shot right in the heart where no balm can possibly mend.

I feel foolish for not being able to get over the death of my pet cat when there is so much suffering going on around me in this world. People grieve the loss of a spouse, parents, friends, old people, even children but here I am, unable to let go of an animal. And I miss her every minute of every hour of every day.

A few people have asked me if I'd like another little kitty. Not for now. It's not another cat that I want; I want Coookie, specifically.

What wouldn't I give to hold her now and kiss her little head. I'll be boarding the plane soon. The last time I was away, I was so anxious to get back to see her. Everything is so different now without her. The emptiness of not hearing her sound; not seeing her chase around in the garden; waking up to the painful reality that she is no more; and going to bed in the dark of the night with images of my last moments with her swirling in my head.

At this point, I don't know how to 'get a grip', or how else to do it. I'm not moping around. I get up and go to work, I smile and laugh with friends and colleagues, I enjoy whatever I can; I eat, sing, run. It's not a ruse. I just do all of the above with a dull ache in my heart. Time has always been a great healer but I'm still waiting this out.

I have to catch the homebound flight now. The last time I flew home from overseas, I could hardly wait to unload my stuff before I reached for her and embraced her. I remember the very first time I did that when she was younger. She seemed surprised; she actually stared at me for a while before relaxing her head against my shirt.

This. Is. Rough.

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