Thursday, June 22, 2017

A big sigh.

Now I'm well and truly in my mid 40s, and probably like every women in my age, I'm struggling to keep my figure.
I won't say I'm overweight, and from the side with my clothes on, I look pretty good. However, the problem lies in where you can't see - that is "love handles" "chicken wings" and "upper thighs". The areas that are hard to tackle.
Plus I'm combating nagging pain in my knees, shoulders and back due to an injury which makes the situation even harder.
All those planking, dumbbell exercises that are supposed to target the areas - just forget them.
I've tried, and ended up further aggravating my pain.
Whinging too much, you say?
Well, I may be middle-aged, but still an woman, so let me dream.
I'm telling you, I've been eating healthy. Less carb, more vitamin and fibre rich diet, and no alcohol. Doing steps, yoga, walking and whatever the exercises I can do without hurting my body, and I just can't get rid of my bloody fat!!!
It's winter now. So you may think it's ok having fat where is covered with clothes. I know. But I can't wear my favourite red dress because I look disproportionally fat with my chicken wings exposed.
Those trainers should really help people like me with arthritis problems to keep our posture.
Don't you agree?

Friday, April 1, 2016

My painful first experience.

I'm going to see my hair stylist tomorrow for a hair cut.
Last time I saw him was pretty traumatic.

It wasn't the hair style I didn’t like; I love his job so much that he is the only one I go to. Seriously.

The story was, about 6 months ago I dyed my hair for the first time in my life, which I used to think I never would until 2 years ago. The only reason I thought I'd try this was the fact I started seeing some grey in my hair.

At that point I only wanted thin strands of hair coloured here and there so I asked him not to colour my entire hair.
I was anxious but also exited.

Like I said in the beginning, it was my first experience, which means I didn't know the colouring procedure, at all.
Halfway through the process I began to get this uneasy feeling that something was going terribly wrong.

He dyed my hair in 2 stages - he actually took strands of my hair and breached them, then next he dyed my entire hair in dark brown. It wasn't too different from my original hair colour so what the big deal, most people would say. Yeah I get it.

But it was a big deal. Hair dye can damage your hair and changes the natural texture of it. I was so shocked to see strands of bright red in my dyed chocolate brown hair.

In most people's eyes it must've looked great. However, it was to me like losing my virginity for the second time - oh, I can still recall how my heart ached, I'm telling you, as fresh as if it happened yesterday.

Coming home, the first thing I did that night was wrapping my entire hair with detox clay to rid of as much chemicals in it as I could, cos either the smell or the chemicals, whichever it was, or maybe it was the combination of both was making me feel queasy.

The clay managed to remove most of the smell, and after detoxifying my hair the red bits looked a bit faded but it at least gave me some emotional relief.

The faint scent of the dye still lingered for the next few days which I didn't likebut I eventually moved on from the initial devastation.

Well, perhaps I wasn't that unhappy about the colour itself but my subconscious sort of went into the denial mode - maybe I'm not as adventurous as I think I am. In the past I fantasised myself getting a small tatt somewhere on less obvious part of my body but I realise now I'm the kind of person who come to regret it. Getting a tattoo is different, it's irreversible.

My new look was extremely popular among my workmates, but I don't think I'll ever colour my hair again.

Sometimes a fantasy is best left as a fantasy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Breakfast at ...

It’s been a long, long time since my last entry. Just out of blue I felt like writing again. 

Over the last couple of years, were moments I planned to write something, like travel exeriences or Café reviews or you know, just something, anything.

I took photos which still live somewhere on my computer, under various combinations of alphabetics and numerics, and you know they exist but can't mentally picture exactly where, cos you never use them.
And by now they are all old stories. 

While I was taking a long leave from writing I can’t say I did anything constructive or much at all. Apart from usual part time job and daily house chores, I just spent fair bit of time reading Japanese online novels, I have to say I found several good ones, but most were kind of same-y plot-wise and eventually my fad is over. It was fairly long passing phase though. 

I was constantly sick last year, mainly due to hormone change, low metabolism, low immunity etc, coming with age I guess. 

However there have been a few positive changes lately.  
I have been exercising everyday for the last 3 months, doing dance-move inspired exercises in the morning and yoga at night. Nothing strict, moves are modified depending on my condition of, say, knee pains and back pains; as a result it became very different from textbook yoga. 

But this daily exercise works wonders for me. it gives me more energy and boosts my immune system, and even when I do get sick it doesn't last long. Plus I haven’t taken any sick leave yet. It's WOW considering how I was taking one or two sickies every month for well over a year.

I have been eating home cooked meal most of the time now (until last year I was a perpetual indian/thai takeout eater) and avoiding sweets the best I can. I can't say this too firmly because, as with everything else I can’t stick to my own rules for long. You know the way it is with people like me – I allow myself occasional treat. Strict regimen never works. 

At different time, with different problems with different parts of your body, you have to go through the motions accordingly, am I right or am I right???
Oh what’s that to do with sweets, you ask?
Never mind. I never eat sugar-free sweets. Guilt-free pleasure, they say – then how come are they still so sweet, some syrup or artificial sweetener must’ve been in there right? I would rather have modest amount of raw or brown sugar. 
At least they are natural aren't they, or honey – 
This is my reasoning – Not bad, Honey.

If I were a pedantic dieter, I would’ve also disapproved of Café meals but some are really good. I gotta admit. 

I went to this Café last month and it was still hot you bet. 
This place is situated near Hurstbridge station and from I gather, they are run by a family, cos the boy behind the counter at that time was talking to the local customer about some unhappy event in the family that prevented his mum from turning up that day. 

Hmmm, more unhappy news, where does it all end? I thought I’ve heard enough since the start of this year. Maybe it was the heat this summer to be blamed – it really was a long, hot summer. But we survived through it.

Oh, right. I was about to mention Café meals, now I remember – I have this bad habit of drifting off to different topic and forgetting where I was before – but yep, about Café meals. I actually don’t mind classic breakfast menu like toast with scrambled eggs or poached eggs with crispy bacon. Sometimes I do get the craving, I don't even mind the oily, leathery (rubbery?) texture of the bacon at some anonymous neighbourhood coffee joint (not stylish enough to be called Café, you know the kind I mean.), but this is different. 

Look at these.

Poached eggs were perfectly poached, not too runny or hard – and as may see (or maybe it's not quite the right angle), they have the open kitchen so you can see them preparing food. It’s getting more and more trendy to have open kitchen in a Café these days.

Then again even the simple breakfast is priced like 13 dollars. Yeah and those menu we ordered cost more. But it’s worth paying for.

You see, not just they are delicious but also beautifully presented. In the old days Café meals looked like these. 

Actually they look very, very nice. Far from those rubbery slices of bacon I mentioned...

Talking about good Café, they don’t have to look quite this fancy. 

There’s this tiny Café in Brunswick I frequent, which used to be a derelict milk bar not even 10 years ago. Now converted into one of many popular cafes in Brunswick, it only offers 2 or 3 signature menus (and the food quality is consistently high) as far as I know. 

And they are so simple and nothing too fancy and not as pricey either. 

This very cozy joint that serves one of the best cups of coffee, popular as it deserves, is called La Paloma. Staff are all friendly and many seem to have south American background. Definitely worth checking out. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Le Renaissance 4

It's been nearly an year past since I uploaded the earlier part of the story. 
I originally wrote this part in 3rd person narrative, thinking that it might give the character a different perspective, or make it sound like the main character is watching herself in a more detached way. However, when I did it, it seemed to make the narrative voice less powerful.

I also contemplated writing in present tense, but since it's a process of going back to the past in a sense, I decided to use past tense here.

I'm just afraid the tone of the narrative might have changed slightly and I am not quite sure what is the right thing to do, but for the time being I will just keep writing and enjoy how the story unfolds itself and I might change bits and pieces later if necessary. 

Well, let's see...


When I finally arrived at Hakata station, I was astonished by how different it looked.
‘Bullet trains didn’t stop at Hakata back then, that’s why.’ I thought.

Hakata had always been the most exciting part of Fukuoka and Fukuoka had always been a city, but now it really felt like a proper city, not like how I remembered.

I sat by the window at a café just outside the station and blankly watched the view spreading in front of me.
‘It feels so strange and unreal being here again…and why now?’ I whispered to myself, ‘after all these years wasted for trying to act like someone who I’m not.’
‘…but if I hadn’t been the person who I really am, what exactly is real me? Nana must have changed too, just like I have.’ I let out an inaudible sigh as I sipped a cup of tall black.

The next few hours were spent just hopping on and off several different local train stops and checking out places where I was supposed to know well. The view became more familiar as I traveled farther out of the main city. I traced back my fading memory and managed to find an old tobacco shop, which was something like a milk bar, still ran by the same grandma who obviously suffers from some form of dementia. Her daughter Akane-san came back from mainland over ten years ago after a messy divorce was helping her business. In a few years time, Akane-san said, that they would sell out this shop, and move to somewhere closer to the city, but considering this country's economic state even the idea of selling the shop appeared challenging, Akane-san whinged with a forced smile. The situation was similar in all the villages I visited. Many houses and milk bars were gone, so were all my old school mates who obviously shifted to either city or mainland. 

The heat was murderous in the countryside. Monsoon season this year apparently didn't bring enough rain and the dry merciless sun quickly burnt my neck. I had limitless time on my hand but having to wait 20 minutes in this sun...with nowhere to escape….

‘Oh, this is the beauty of country life. The public transport is useless. I should’ve known better! Why didn’t I check the timetable more carefully? This is the side effect of living in Metropolitan area for so many years.’ I quietly cursed myself.

I wondered how I could possibly have survived through those ten years in the rural part of Fukuoka. I know why. It’s because there was Nana, and we shared many good and bad times, including this heat.

I was struck by sudden rush of nostalgia. There are things would never change. The endless view of rice paddies and wheat fields, and far, far away in distance, I saw mountains covered with soft, wispy clouds. This place had the pristine beauty that was hard to find elsewhere, and despite the brutal sun, the air itself smelt almost sweet. As the faint breeze brushed past me I let the familiar scent tingle my nose.

While waiting for the next train, I kept thinking about Nana. I know I used to call her the best friend, but she was more than a friend, more special than a friend or could’ve even been something completely different. Infatuation. That was what it was, or you could call it my obsession that I couldn’t entirely move on from. I desperately needed some form of conclusion.

After leaving Fukuoka I never took interest in another girl, that was for sure. I enjoyed the casual relationships with guys to a certain point, although it might have been partly due to the invisible pressure coming from my parents and relatives.

During this 20 years filled with regrets and vain efforts to re-create my image of being a straight mature adult, I could't remember how many nights I kissed Nana in my dreams, touched her with my fingers and felt her heat and heartbeat. Then saw that flashback, again, of us on that riverbank, I lied next to Nana and was painfully aware how badly I wanted to kiss her lips.

Only if I could forget, or if I could find a soul mate, I wouldn’t have come back. Or would’ve come back and laugh about it as a silly adolescent fantasy.

‘What do I want?’

The small village where they spent those 10 years together was less than 10 minutes away. Once on the train, the coolness of air-coned inside brought back my usual self.

‘That’s right, what do I want? She is more likely won’t be there anymore. How stupid, how absurd…what a laugh!’ I snorted. I was a 34-year-old woman acting impulsively like a kid. 

It was a village with only one junior high school, with about 300 students including those from few surrounding villages.

‘What the hell am I doing here?’

I took an old photo of us photographed in 1972, so we would’ve been 12 then, out of the side pocket of my bag as I got out of the train stop.

It was like stepping back in the old days. Everyone remembered me and everyone I knew.

The old guy who used to live in the wooden hut behind that water mill passed away two years ago just a few days before his 100-year old birthday. All the grandpas and grandmas stayed in this village but not many families in the village had enough young blood to sustain their wheat farming business. Future was looking bleak.

I couldn’t avoid the inevitable questions like;

“Chisa-chan, Are you coming back to stay?” to which I just answered timidly, “No, I haven't planned anything yet.”

“Where’s your husband, Chisa-chan? How many children do you have?” to which of course I couldn’t say anything.

Those questions were not the kind I wanted to hear, but the words like “husband” and “kids” made me think about something else.

‘What would she be like?’ That was the question that popped in my head. ‘A mum? …No, it's too hard to imagine her with a baby.’ I chuckled. ‘But we are old enough to be a mum of teenage kids’

Teenage kids! It was scary to remind myself that we were teenage kids back then.

My feeling towards Nana, to myself, was spiritual, beautiful and sensual at the same time. But no matter how I would have described it I would’ve been just a dyke to these village people anyway, some creature that all homophobiac crowd would spit on and disdain. 

And these nice people – and I meant it - weren’t even aware that they were those crowd.

I was now carrying on like a “normal” adult who used to be a good girl, but was actually someone who they would’ve labelled as “Wacho”.

The brick wall was tall and tough. Invincible.

I nearly forgot how it was like having to suppress my burning, choking desire, and how many times I cursed my goddess in my mind yelling,
“Damn you, get out my head!”
Now I remembered how close to the edge I was and all the complicating and turbulent emotions that were driving me mad.  And I didn’t even know what Nana was feeling, either.

The chemistry which seemed to me was mutual, could’ve just been my wishful imagination.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Turning Pages of History.

When I was volunteering at a charity op-shop, I got hold of a little English dictionary the width of 50 cent coin and the height of my small thumb, which is called "lilliput webster dictionary'. Printed in 1969 in Germany, this tiny dictionary obviously is quite popular for past 75 years.

I've always had an eye for antique,
Antique, that is not too expensive, not in perfect condition, 
but with some wear and tear or a unique character of its own.
"The little webster from Spotless Dry Cleaning and Laundry" is certainly one of the kind.
I placed it on the fireplace alcove in our lounge, and admired it from time to time.
I had never took a great notice of anything else except, the size of the dictionary.

Ian was watching 'American Pickers' on TV on the sofa.
I was standing with my back facing the heater.
We were talking about how I have a thing for old items with some company logos on them.
Then I abruptly looked in the direction of the alcove.

This one was a great pick, wasn't it? I said.
Sure was, said Ian.
It is in amazing condition...did I pay 50 cents for it or got it for free? 
I'm pretty sure I didn't pay anything for it.
And I wouldn't have had to anyway.
It was a free giveaway someone got from Spotless Dry Cleaning and Laundry store in Melbourne, or someone who was working for the place donated one, I'm not hundred percent sure.
I found a photo archived on National Library of Australia Website.

This photo was taken in 1967, two years in prior to the dictionary was printed.

The same logo you see on the roof of the store is found on the cover of the dictionary.

The definition is simple and easy to understand.
In its 640 pages, it covers pretty much every word you will need in daily life.

The spotless dry cleaning and laundry store in Melbourne probably changed its name slightly since then, well, I don't know.
In 1969, Australia must have been still pretty "white".
Most migrants were those from Mediterranean nations and Eastern European nations.
But slowly but surely Australia was heading towards multiculturalism.
That's why the idea of a dry cleaner using an English dictionary as a promotional item is so interesting.

Well, it certainly is not the tiniest like Bryce's,
Even the original 1969 Lilliput Dictionary costs only 19 Australian Dollars.
But it is special.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Best Revenge.

...was the title of the book I was reading last night.

It was about a female FBI agent, Kelda who was obsessed with her vengeance to Thomas Clone, an innocent guy who she, and everyone thought murdered his ex-girlfriend, Ivy Campbell and whom she believed killed her artist friend, Joan Winslet, in Hawaii. He was on death row when Kelda helped him getting released from jail by fabricating an evidence that proved his innocence.

However, Kelda's ultimate motive was not to save the guy, but to make him taste the fear of death that he inflicted on Joan before he killed her. She planned the revenge with Ira, her lover who, as later revealed to be her dead friend's brother. The plan was to give him Fear Lesson, which is to torture Tom Clone to death. The narrative character used in the story was her psychiatrist Dr. Alan Gregory, who wound up consulting the supposed murderer, who in fact was referred to by the FBI agent herself. Through the process of consulting both of them he started to see what was behind the surface.

It was a gripping novel because there was a fair amount of comedy element in the story, such as - the total absurdity of the FBI agent's point of retaliation, the crazy obsession, her rationalisation of her actions.

Kelda's mission of revenge seem to stem from her early experience of her sister being molested by a boy in their neighbourhood. When she witnessed  them in their cubby house and what was happening, she pushed the boy off the tree to save her sister, that left the boy brain-damaged and paralysed. But she was too late to prevent her sister from being molested.

When she was still fresh out of FBI academy, she saved the life of a kidnapped little girl called Rosa Alija and the same thing happened. By the time she saved Rosa, she was already molested by the kidnapper who died instantly from Kelda's gunshot. She was furious that the guy died without suffering. And years later, she failed to save the life of her friend.

Her idea of revenge was to make Tom suffer the same fear he supposedly inflicted upon his 'victims'.
Nobody really believed he didn't kill anyone. He spent 13 years in jail for the murder he didn't commit and got further tortured for another murder he wasn't responsible for. Yet his idea of best revenge was to move on and have as normal a life as he could possibly lead. He had had enough misfortune in his life already, a bipolar mother, who in her good mood, was the most fun person to be with yet deserted him when her bad mood kicked in and the ex-girlfriend who he supposedly killed had panic syndrome who pushed him out of the house when she had one of those episodes.

Tom Clone unfortunately had the tendency to be drawn towards women who were eccentric and fun, but crazy, including his infatuation with his tormentor, Kelda Jones. It was that tendency that always led him to one tragedy after another.
In the end, he survived and hopefully he'll be eventually rewarded with the life he always wanted. Just a normal life.

The full of ironies and sarcasm in the novel was what made the book extremely intriguing. It was something refreshing and unpredictable - a very good read indeed.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Xperia Acro S Review.

This is my first post from my new Xperia Acro S.
After wavering between physical keyboard and android phone for ages I finally decided on this phone.

I've long had this massive phobia towards touch-panel and always thought virtual keyboard was something I'd never get usee to.
However, I managed to overcome it.
I have to admit, touch-panel haw come a long way...

My first impression of my first smart phone was   
"big and heavy"
It must have been because I was so used to my extremely reliable, small but old Sony Ericsson Cedar.
Now after using it for a week, I don't think it's that big - indeed, I find the size just right in my tiny hands.
Well, I can definitely hold this phone in one hand.

One thing though, I've found rather disapponting is its short battery life. It was about 4pm today I realised that the battery was running low.
By that time I was using it for Internet surfing for 5 hours at least. So you could say this device maybe isn't ideal for a heavy Internet user or gamer.
But apart from that I haven't encountered any issues at all.
Internet browsing experience is so fast and smooth even when the battery is low.
The keyboard is comfortable to use with all the right word suggestions. Seriously I don't think we need any upgraded interface or processor. This is an amazing phone.

What's most amazing is its pre-installed Japanese keyboard, which is a must-have for me.
In landscape mode, roma-ji input is automatically activated while it's direct input mode in portrait mode.
Swapping between English and Japanese keyboard is super-easy by just flicking bottom left key.
However Xperia Japanese keyboard doesn't offer Swype input.
Default Xperia keyboard is even easier to use if you don't need the bilingual keyboard option.

GPS also works damn well. It quickly pinpoint where you are now, and track you wherever you go...

As for other features like waterproof and dust/shatter proof, are not that important to me. The price of the phone now is about the same as Samsung galaxy SII. The call quality and signal reception are exellent. For about AU$350-400, I think it definitely worths the price.