Trapeze – I love and hate you

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I’ve never liked the Celine Luggage bag. I’ve always thought that it looks like an ugly robot. The handle is too short to carry on your shoulder, and the shape is too long to comfortably carry on your arm without making you look short. But when I first saw the Celine Trapeze, I instantly loved it. It is different, and it looks great both on your arms and hanging on your shoulders from the long strap. And as I started to see more and more of it on the streets of Central, it was like calling to me, and I really really wanted one! So I got one last year for my birthday.

I love contrasting colors, but because light suede gets dirty, and plain leather gets scratched, I ended up with this black duck pressed leather trapeze, with black suede on the side. It looks lovely and classic, doesn’t it?

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I don’t change bags very often (i’m lazy), and when I like something I use it everyday for months. So far, in the last year, I’ve used the Trapeze for approximately 5-10% of my time. Why? Because I secretly hate it. It is the most ungainly, heavy (second only to my Chloe Paraty bag), uncomfortable and annoying bag I’ve ever owned. To begin with, I prefer carrying it on my shoulder using the long strap, and because the shape is so wide, I almost always bumping into someone or something. When I’m not bumping into things, the edge of the Trapeze constantly bumps my thighs – and after a while it actually hurts! But the most annoying thing of all? If you do not keep the buttons on the sides constantly closed, there’s not enough support and the buckle in the front will automatically pop open after a few steps. Frankly, if you carry anything marginally too heavy, the front buckle pop open anyway. And you do have to constantly open and close it. Given the design of the bag, that is the only way to have easy and quick access to your phone and transport card, without going through the whole process of unbuckling and lifting the front flap, and unzipping the bag (did i mention that the zip also needs to be always closed to avoid the popping?). While we are on the topic of the buttons on the side, mine is wrapped in black suede. And because I have to constantly open and close it, the black suede wrapping is already coming off to reveal cold grey metal underneath.

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So yes, while the Trapeze looks great, you should definitely think twice before getting it.

Childhood dreams

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Another year, another birthday. It occurred to me that where I am now, is far from where I thought I would be now. Along the way, I learnt to compromise and prioritize what is truly important. And while it hasn’t quite worked out the way I’d envisioned, it hasn’t really been too bad either. I’m far from religious, but I do believe that I’m blessed.

One thing I’m starting to believe in more is that if one is going to do something, one should always put their heart into it and try to do it right. You only live once. It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day if you make a fool of yourself. So this year for my birthday, I decided to make my childhood dreams come true. And with the right planning, the help of Taobao and an incredibly supportive group of friends, I finally did, and I did it right. It was the best birthday yet.

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Finally Defrizzed!

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After reading up on “hair detox” and the many benefits of it (after the dry, tangly and straw-like detoxing phase), I decided to give non-silicone based, organic hair products a try. Lighter, less oily and non toxic hair sounds good to me. At my colleague’s recommendation (and she has an excellent track record so far), I bought the Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Hair Care shampoo and conditioner.

32 fl oz / 946 ml32 fl oz / 946 ml

To be honest, having tried almost every hair product brand I can think of over the years, from Kerastase, Bedhead, Redken, Matrix, Aveda to Garnier, I wasn’t expecting too much. Just a detox phase, before getting back to normal, with perhaps psychologically a lighter and healthier feeling. I was not expecting any significant and visible improvements. At this point, I’ve pretty much given up on finding hair product that actually does what it claims.

So imagine my surprise when two days after I started using the shampoo, I get an email from a work acquaintance (who saw me the evening before), asking if I’d done something different with my hair recently. And this is coming from the more unobservant half of our species!! I think what he was trying to say was that my hair looks much smoother and sleeker than usual. I replied saying that it is probably because I’ve finally successfully de-frizzed my hair – and I have!!! While I did not experience any detox phase, I have noticed that my hair is much less frizzier than before. I don’t believe I’ve ever been so excited about a shampoo before!

Book of the month: July & August

Despite my lack of updates, I actually read a lot in July. I was on a roll. I devoured The Bet (Rachel van Dyken), The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) and Bossy Pants (Tina Fey) all within a few weeks. Suddenly I found myself with my nose in my Kindle all the time; in the morning when I wake up; on my way to work, over lunch; during a lull at work; waiting for the bus on my way home; after dinner; before bed. The problem, I soon realized (and to to some extent recalled from my high school days), is that reality almost always pales in comparison to a good book. When a book is finished, you suddenly feel empty and bored; and quickly scramble to find the next story to immerse yourself into. It is almost like an addiction.

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Book of the month: May 2013

I almost thought I’d have to wait til June to read my May book, but then I started Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls earlier last week, and absolutely could not put it down. I almost wanted to slow down my reading, to properly savor each line, but then I couldn’t resist and finished it before the week was out.

Usually I’m not a fan of memoirs. Not that I’ve read many, but from what I can remember, they are definitely not page turners. They tend to be slow and full of deep reflections, which, while fine when I’m the one reflecting, is kind of dull for readers. But Jeanette Walls does an amazing job. Her childhood was by no means idyllic (and was in fact quite rough!), but she puts a very matter of fact and humorous spin to it, which makes it more like a fun and exciting adventure. Definitely in a class of its own in terms of memoirs (indeed, sometimes it was actually hard to imagine that the stories were true)! Along the same lines as this essay, but even better.

Time for my next adventure. I’m looking for something fun to read on my vacation next week – ideally with reference to Russia!

Book of the Month: April 2013

This is a bit late. I read it in late March, and when i didn’t read anything new in April, only just now decided to pass it off as my April book, just to keep the flow going.

I practically devoured The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier in record speed. I absolutely loved it. I felt carried back into time. When I told HG this, she asked me what it was about. I said it was about the making of a the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry, and the stories of the people involved in it. So what happened? Nothing and everything. The protagonist, who is also the villain, did not get the girl in the end. And no one exactly lives happily ever after. But everyone’s lives change before and after the making of the tapestry.

So what did I love about it? I guess the way it was written. I usually don’t like lengthy descriptions, but Chevalier did it just right. It was enough for me to come up with an image in my head, but not so long and confusing that it bore me. I also loved that the story was written from different character’s perspectives, so you understand where everyone is coming from, and how this story came to be. It feels real. Of course, I also got a thorough understanding of the tapestry in question. I looked it up. It’s in the Musee National du Moyen Age in Paris. I can’t wait to look it up the next time I’m in town!

Next up, maybe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls?

Neighbours

I’m done with Life Writing class! It has been both awesome and disappointing. Awesome because I got to meet some amazing ladies with incredible stories to tell, and  got myself to start writing again. Disappointing because I realized that not all writing classes are equal, and if not for my awesome classmates, the class would be for naught. Next, I’m thinking of taking either an interior designing course, or a computer programming course. And hopefully continue writing on this blog.

One thing I did learn during this course is that apparently writing related segments, and then putting it together really does work. Here is my finish product for the course. Hope you enjoy, and constructive comments are welcome.

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While my brother, Ocean and I still live at home together, we’re really more like neighbors.

Every morning my brother leaves the house at 6am. He’s a chef, and needs to get into work early to make preparations for the day, working odd hours (including weekends and public holidays). I have an office job, and barely leave the house before 9:30am. Sometimes when I have a late night out on weekends, or cannot sleep, I’d hear him in the bathroom going through his morning routine. Not long after that, I’d hear the front door banging shut. Once I woke up at an ungodly hour early on a Sunday morning for a marathon and we left home together. In the evenings, I get home at around 8pm, just in time to say goodnight to him. That is pretty much the extent I see my brother in daily life. Otherwise his presence is only felt in the slippery bathroom floor and the empty freezer where my ice cream is supposed to be.

Once in a blue moon, when he and I are both home for the evening, and he’s in a good mood, he’d come over to tell me about his latest girlfriend, or all the planning he has done for his upcoming trip to Japan. I am always amazed by the diligence he applies to planning for Japan (if only he were half as diligent at school!). This occurs every few months, whenever he has saved enough money to go. Personally, I don’t get this earn it and spend it concept (I’m more of a save for a rainy day kind of girl), but over the years, I’ve learnt to be encouraging and non-judgmental. Behind his gruff I-am-too-cool-to-care exterior, is a sensitive soul. Besides, I leave the censorship to to my parents.

But even on that front he gets off easy, and pretty much does whatever he wants. He brings random girls he meets on the internet home, never cleans up after himself, never shows up for family events and is in general downright rude. It is not because he’s a boy, and my parents are typical Asian parents who favour boys. But (I suspect) because they feel guilty about his traumatizing childhood (he was academically challenged, and spent his childhood either at school or after-school school), which culminated to what we thought was anorexia when he came back from studying in Canada after a year, looking like a skeleton (being a huge McDonalds fan, he was borderline obese when he went!). That, and because my parents just don’t know what they can do with him. After so many years, he’s pretty much immune to any parental rebuke (and he’s much too old for the stick).

As for me, you know what they say; you can choose your friends, but not your family. We are so different, that under normal circumstances, we probably would never have even spoken. But yet, here we are. He is the only other person in the world who has both my mother and father’s blood running through him. There has got to be some love in there somewhere.

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From the Grandma’s Perspective

This week for class we were given an extract from “Semper Fi: The Story of a Vietnam Era Marine” by Orville Leverne Clubb (pp 10-14), and asked to write a corresponding piece from the Grandma’s perspective. The piece was written from a little boy’s point of view, about how he moved from his grandmother to his parent’s home and back again, and how he ended up failing first grade. Considering that this is the only extract I’ve ever read from this book, I took a lot of literary liberty to create a backdrop and even to make up names of certain characters.

I tried to give a darker twist to the story, instead of the straightforward, his grandma loves him too and really missed him etc. I thought of why the little boy was placed to live with his grandparents in the first place and came up with this:

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Just as I was getting ready to make dinner, my sixteen year old daughter, Carol burst into the house, with tears in her eyes looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

“What’s wrong sweetheart?” I asked.

“I’m pregnant” she sobbed, “and it’s not Harry’s.”

Harry was the captain of the football team, Carol’s high school sweetheart and her fiance. They were getting married in June.

“What am I going to do mother? What am I going to do?” Carol cried.

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Flyer Etiquettes

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There is a guy who hands out flyers all the time near my bus stop. He wears glasses, and has a funny face and an awkward walk. I figured that he is mentally challenged. Every time I walk pass him I’d take a flyer, so he could be done with his job earlier (at least that is what I would hope for if I were distributing flyers). Usually I would then throw the flyer away in the nearest bin a few steps away. I’ve been doing this for a while now (perhaps even more than a year), and have come to regard it as one of my ‘small acts of kindness’ of the day (usually, I don’t stop at all for safety reasons, as well as the fact that most beggars in Hong Kong – especially in Central – are part of an organized gang). 

Recently there has been some construction going on near my bus stop, and they’ve moved the bin closer to where the guy is handing out flyers. So this morning when I took his flyer, he saw me putting it directly into the bin as there weren’t a lot of people around. I really didn’t think he’d care. He was just doing his job after all. But then I heard a noise behind me and saw him swearing at me, and basically giving me the finger!

I admit, in all this time I’ve never actually stopped to read any of his flyers to see what they were about. They are usually bland, photocopied pieces of colored paper with a lot of Chinese characters on it. I just assumed they were promoting a local restaurant or the likes. I honestly thought I was doing him a favour by taking a flyer!

But this experience has me questioning, what is the correct etiquette for flyer distribution? If I’m not interested in the content, is it kinder for me to politely decline with a smile and walk away, or take one anyway and then throw it away?

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