Q1 2020

Hi everyone! In the blink of an eye, we’re almost at the end of the first quarter of the year/decade. Whooaaa, that just flew by. People say as you get older the days go slow but the years go fast – I just think everything is going by too quick! Even this week, I swear last Sunday, I was a boat with my friends for Jessica’s birthday, but wait, that was 2 weeks ago.. !!

What I’ve been watching recently:

Itaewon Class! – A refreshing Korean drama about a boy with great ambitions. This follows my current Korean drama spree of Hotel del Luna, Fight for my Way (still stuck on ep 6 ’cause there’s soo much content available) and What’s wrong with Secretary Kim? Itaewon Class had superb acting, interesting character development (some were lacklustre) and just less dramatic than typical K-dramas which I enjoyed, they had certain scenes that felt progressive that I feel most directors/writers would feel uncomfortable to show – times are changing!

Kingdom 2 – Binged this in 2 days, very happy how they wrapped up Season 1’s plot so quickly, can’t wait for the next!

What I’ve been playing recently:

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has consumed my life, I’m starting to think I made a big mistake..

Jokes, it brings me immense joy (and frustration) and I think everyone should get it! It’s therapeutic (and infuriating) in this time of calamity. I’ve paid off my first home loan (only to get hit with another), and I’ve built a shop and museum and after many many hours, caught the elusive whale shark!

While we’re all fighting the cabin fever, it’s been a very cute and fun time visiting islands with my friends, especially when Jimmy isn’t dc-ing every 5 minutes.

I’ve also started playing Breath of the Wild again, just trying to complete all the shrines and finally go get Ganon! I’m on 91 out of 120 shrines! (I last played in Jan 2018, I’m horrible and parrying now)

What I’ve been cooking lately:

And I mean IRL cooking, not in-game, I really am levelling up my cooking skills! (I really need to add more recipes to my pitiful Kitchen page ๐Ÿ˜“)

Other things in life this quarter:

I did my first student showcase a few weeks ago, it was super fun! & with that I’ve actually decided to stop my aerial slings and go back to the pole apparatus instead :3 It’s just been a very spinny dizzy time and I can’t fully enjoy my classes because I’m either drowsy from my motion sickness tablets or I’m trying to stop myself from stumbling over. So goodbye, for now, sling – I promise I’ll fly with you again when I have more strength and core and can control you better.

Sky Sirens has now shut down, due to Covid-19, I really really really really really hope Katia and team can tide over this difficult time and reopen once it’s over. I’ll be happy to support the studio any time! โ™ฅ๏ธ

This virus has really got me thinking about “last times”. The last time I ever do something – this is actually something that’s been at the back of my mind since mid-2019 and I think it’s because many of my colleagues and myself lost our jobs. The thoughts of things like

  • This is the last time I’m commuting this way
  • This is the last time I’ll be having this stand-up/meeting
  • This is the last time I’ll have a 1:1 with this person
  • This is the last time I have to do this annoying task (hehe)

and as my last day at R/GA approached those thoughts were amped up and I guess they never really went away.

Throughout the rest of the year and beginning of 2020, I had thoughts like

  • This might be the last time I can celebrate NYE with my friends (because I think people will get married, have kids etc)
  • This might be the last time I have dinner with X person for a while or maybe ever.. because they’re moving overseas
  • This might be the last time I can afford to do X activity for a while (because I want to get a home loan)

and so on… I always think about this now, so I guess, I’m trying to make each action and interaction more meaningful because I don’t know when life will return to normal. Marty and I went to Ultra on March 7th and that very well could have the been the last outdoor music festival in Sydney this year.. ahhhhhh!

Just before the police told us to remove our masks. Eep.

So it’s been 2 full weeks of working from home for me, and it’s been a month at Microsoft ! ~ ! I’m still really happy, and I love everyone I’ve gotten to know but I feel I’ve got a huge mountain to climb before I’m satisfied with my outputs and can feel that I’m a valuable member of the team. I feel slow, inefficient and that I have very little visibility on my projects. Everyone says it’s ok, but I really hate this part. It’s something about me that will probably never change, I just want to absorb and know everything so I can make the best decisions and work productively.

And one final thing from me today..

On March 24th, 2020.

I BECAME AN AUSTRALIAN PERMANENT RESIDENT! ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ

Autumn Chills

It’s Friday the 13th.

I woke up to a chilly morning, thinking it could be my last day commuting to work for a while. Today I rose especially early to make it to North Ryde for a 3-hour workshop. I remember thinking last evening how chilly it was during my grocery run and this morning felt like winter suddenly arrived. Of course it hasn’t, we’re just descending into Autumn now.

It takes me just over an hour door to door to get to North Ryde, where my new workplace is – Microsoft! Today is day 10 for me, I am thankful and beyond happy every day that this opportunity landed in my lap. I once wrote about the Butterfly Effect on my old blog (I actually tried to find that post but my old blog is a total mess, but it’s out there if you can find it ๐Ÿ˜‰) during a time where I was happy. I remember writing how I couldn’t have gotten there without all first experiencing pain, rejection and sacrifices and I listed those important moments out. Similarly, I felt so blessed at the beginning of 2019 then life became turbulent after the first quarter (after my Indoneaster trip!). Slowly, life kept spiralling downward, it was mostly just my company then not doing well, then in the last quarter of the year I noticed things happening around me that made me feel stagnant, I felt suffocated and that I was falling behind.

Then in October, I took what I called a leap of faith, but I don’t know what to call it now. It was a short adventure alright and I’m glad I did it. Curiosity did not kill the cat, it made her stronger!

Anyways, after some uncertain months, I’m in a good spot right now, mentally and physically. I feel strong, literally, thanks to my aerial classes. I feel happy at Microsoft, it’s the first company where I’ve learnt our Mission and actively think about it when I’m working and I’m proud of that Mission.

To empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more

For the fellow curious kitties, I’m on the marketing communications team for Xbox and Office ๐Ÿ™‚ if you follow me on social media, be prepared for some gaming content!

Back to the top now on today being the last day of going to work. The Coronavirus I wrote about one post back has escalated with no signs of slow down since then. There’s now just under 138k cases and over 5k deaths reported, god knows how many un-reported/un-diagnosed. The memes about Australia are sadly true, people are clashing over toilet paper, the medicine, rice and pasta aisles are empty. Many offices have shut down and one of my friends is in self-quarantine for 21 days and some friends are currently overseas and might either be refused entry back home.

People are suffering, people are separated from their families, people are out of jobs. I’ve been fortunate so far that my life has been going on as usual but I forsee some interruption very soon.

I was going to write about some other pleasant things but I’ve lost my appetite.

Til next time, wash your hands!

Sydney’s Inner West
Twitter @Stilgherrian

Chichen Itza

A few weeks ago I was on lounging without a care in the luxurious Unico resort at Riveria Maya, Mexico.

The highlight of my trip is a no-brainer really, it was visiting one of the new wonders of the world – Chichen Itza (on that note, did you know the great pyramids of Giza are only an honorary wonder?)

Kukulkan Pyramid

I haven’t been to any of the other new wonders besides the Great Wall of China so I can’t really compare. I’m sure the pyramids are impressive and a crazy feat of engineering, but I can tell you what makes the Mayan city Chichen Itza so wondrous. There are a few parts to this wonder, but I’ll write about the Kukulkan Pyramid and the Great Ball Court – both full of architectural and engineering marvels.

This pyramid is actually a giant calendar. There are exactly 365 steps to the top with big carved serpent heads at the base of each side. Depending on the position of the sun, the steps cast shadows in the shape of triangles (sometimes equilateral, sometimes isosceles) – this allowed Mayans to deduce the season. The Mayans would look at the shadow each day and know when it was time to plant their crops and when it was time to harvest. (My memory is a little hazy now but I think it also served as some sort of sundial so it could tell the time too). Every equinox (the time or date, twice each year, at which the sun crosses the celestial equator, when day and night are of equal length) an enormous snake born from the shadows slithers down the side of the Temple of Kukulcan. How cool!?

In my photo above it looks like the pyramid is just sitting on the ground we’re standing on but actually there’s a cenote (cavern) below, filled with water. This produces a cupping effect which makes the pyramid earthquake-proof. There were attempts to dig up the ground to restore the pyramid to its actual state but the excavation was halted as it could potentially unbalance the cupping and the whole pyramid would collapse.

At the very top, there appears to be a doorway, but this is actually an acoustic feature of the pyramid. Standing at the base of the pyramid, you can clap your hands and the sound of the Quetzal bird would echo back at you. I’ll let you youtube that, it’s pretty darn cool.

The quetzal is associated with the snake god Quetzalcoatl and seen as a symbol for goodness and light. The rulers in Mayan cultures required tributes and head-dresses made of quetzal tail-streamers, but since the birds were considered sacred, the penalty for killing one was death, so the birds were freed once their plumes were removed.

Quetzal bird
Ain’t she pretty?

How on earth was all this built before modern technology?

Next up – the Great Ball Court. Historians actually don’t know what the ball game was called or how it was played – everything you see or hear are guesses made.

The Great Ball Court is one of 1300 courts, but the largest in the world. Our guide told us that the court was built to entertain the royals. It’s high walls kept out commoners and slaves but they could all “enjoy” the sport/entertainment due to the brilliant acoustics of this structure. The stone walls are a combination of square, rectangle and oblique rectangle blocks that are concaved on the exposed side. This causes a loud echo when the ball bounces off the surface. Our guide made us yell and clap at the walls to demonstrate. Truly a clapping sound at one end of the court would reverberate clearly 166 metres (545 feet) across.

The Great Ball Court - Chichen Itza

The game honestly looks incredibly difficult, we deduced from the shape of the court that one would have to shoot a ball through the goalpost. It’s said they used to play with a sacrifice’s head, but how would that bounce? It’s also said that players use their hips to toss and pass the ball. Sure I can believe these absurd rules, but in this Great Ball Court, the goal is 9 metres above ground, how much force did you have to thrust to get the ball/head up that high??

Goal hoop - 9 metres off the ground of the Great Ball Court in Chichen Itza

At the base of the walls, there were carvings to help historians. The story goes that these players were commoners or slaves and chosen to play til their death, literally, to escape a life of poverty. The prize for winning these games was that the team’s captain would be gloriously executed and his skull carved upon stone slab alongside fellow champions. So these men would train all their life and train their sons and their sons’ sons. The would play, and when they finally won, they would die smiling, knowing that they’ve emerged the hero, they’ve escaped a life of suffering.

Here is a nice picture from wikipedia showing the full length of the skull platform.

Look familiar? Our guide said this tradition led to the day of the dead festival (not sure how the date was decided) where the captain’s families would celebrate his victory. That’s why the skulls are always smiling and are brightly coloured. It’s not a tragedy, it’s honour to the family.

There are several other monuments in Chichen Itza that have their own rich histories but these two struck me the most – this is what I love most about travelling.

February 13, 2020

It’s Valentine’s day tomorrow.
Last year I received this mega bouquet from Marty, what a cutie. Back then I was working at R/GA, my team and I sat just behind reception and we saw a stream of couriers arrive throughout the day with bouquets for the various ladies. Then this one came, and I didn’t bother looking up until he said
“Is there a Ahh..ye..sha?”

And I snapped up. I saw the bouquet. I heart skipped a beat and immediately I had tears in my eyes.

This year, I’ve just accepted a new job and will be starting soon, so no bouquet will be delivered to an office :p

Anyway, I just wanted to write what’s been happening this year, this decade so far.

I’ve finished my first book of the year – Kafka on the Shore by Murakami and I’m now midway through Michelle Obama’s Becoming. I’ve decided I’ll alternate between fiction and non-fiction this year. Kafka was a really interesting book and very timely I should say because I have been feeling like a lost little lamb at the start of this year, wondering what to do. The story was rather random but I imagine the author must have gone through something similar in his life to be able to write a story like that. I’ve faced so many decisions and dilemmas and it really makes me wonder how I’ve avoided awkward situations or difficult crossroads for so long in my life. It could also be that as I’m getting older I’m more wary of things, I’m more picky about things and that’s making decisions harder each time. The pros and cons are more severe and I actually have to think about what I’m sacrificing each time. Sometimes I feel impulsive like Kafka, like something is just pulling me, I treat every random occurrence like a sign; sometimes I feel like Nakata, that I have this overarching mission in life and everything that happens to me, spontaneous or planned, will eventually guide me there.

I’ve played through Pokemon Shield – what a fun little game, though I found it slightly more challenging than other Pokemon games, or maybe I just have lesser patience for grinding these days. I really liked the gym leaders’ battle music and wished they used it more but I only got to hear it 8 times :c Now I’m watching Marty play Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Oh yes, we finally did our last bit of moving last weekend and have a fridge, washing machine and our PS4 set up ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m enjoying backseat driving like “Hmm.. let’s climb that vine.. I think you should go talk to that NPC.. nah jump off this cliff and see where you go” without having to remember all the controls to execute hehehe.

Speaking of last weekend.. Sydney (well most of Australia) experienced torrential rain for almost a full week. Boy, it was relentless! The good thing is I got to wear my knee-high boots that week and I had fun stepping into puddles without worry. However the rest of Australia did not have such a happy week as lots of places have flooded and property damaged, families displaced. It’s really been a wild start to the year for Australia, this coming just after the devastating bushfires. I suppose on the plus side one of the larger and difficult to contain fires that was burning for I think it was 74 days was finally extinguished and the dam levels have risen quite significantly.

I love Australia and it hurts to see so much of the countryside destroyed, but I’m sure it’ll all recover and beauty will be restored.

Aside from these natural disasters, the world is now tackling the fast-spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19). Flights are being cancelled, people flying in are being told to self-quarantine for 14 days, global events are being cancelled, university students returning are worried about being asked to stay home, I even saw a poor student was rudely evicted from her rental place upon returning from a trip home to Malaysia. Honestly, I have no clue what I’d do in that situation especially if it was during my first year in uni, I was so useless back then. It feels like there’s too much fear and paranoia around people and some are acting horribly and unreasonably. I’ve seen on my social media how people in Singapore are hoarding items and clearing out supermarkets. There are (at point of writing) 50 cases in Singapore for a population of over 5.5 million with 15 recoveries made. I know it’s scary and it can spread quickly, but really I think people need to just watch their hygiene rather than conduct such rude behaviour.

On a happier and as an ending note, my brother and his family (yes that means his two babies!) are visiting me tomorrow, so now I can celebrate this day of love with more people! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m also super happy, it’s the first time they’re coming to Australia since I came here in 2012!
*happy dance time

A little hiccup.

My holiday to Mexico has barely begun yet I’ve experienced so many things today I want to write down.

I’m sitting at the Qantas Lounge, it’s been about 3.5 hours since I got here and my flight to Dallas has been delayed 8 hours meaning I will miss my connecting flight to Cancun and I have to stay a night in chilly Dallas (last checked it was 7degrees eeep! I only have summer clothes packed, uh oh). That’s ok, that’s life I supposed. Me before moving to Australia would probably be cursing my bad luck and be quietly seething in rage – how dare the world inconvenience me. Boy, I used to be such an entitled brat.

The customer service officer at the Qantas counter was empathetic to our situation and showed competence in his job as he managed to get us a few options for us (transiting to Vancouver instead which was unavailable as we wouldn’t be able to get a Canadian visa in time or adding an extra stop after Dallas at Honolulu which would put us in Cancun 3 hours earlier tomorrow – however that would include a 10-hour layover). Spending a night in Dallas felt like the best option). He printed our boarding passes and sent us off with a cheerful wave and said “Don’t let this little hiccup get to you, don’t you get upset, you’re going to have a wonderful holiday!” I really appreciated that and gave him my biggest smile. I was already impressed by how well he did his job (I’m sad to say I’ve met so many people who really don’t try) and also happy he didn’t ever once say anything like “oh typical Qantas” or “yeah it’s a shitty situation”. I get the feel he likes his job and is proud of Qantas, which is such a great attitude!

With hours to kill, I started reading my 2nd book of the year (woohoo!) ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama. The book flows easily and I’m thoroughly enjoying it, my only fear now is that I finish the book in 2 days.

I occasionally glance up at the other travellers in the lounge, the man behind me is very fidgety, and frequently bumps my seat, so much so that I have to move my one-seater sofa forward – which makes it out of line with all the other sofas :C

I notice the table beside us has a Tumi bag, a pixel phone, a laptop and a Gucci purse left unattended with 2 other carry-on suitcases. I feel uncomfortable just looking at that and I could never leave my 1/20th-of-the-price items left unattended at a public place, even if it was a business lounge.

I spy a man eating his ice cream from a tiny cup with a spoon and fork. He is carefully loading his spoon with ice cream and taking very gentle bites. How interesting!

Marty takes a shower and I decide to take one too. This is the first time I’ve ever taken a shower at an airport and oh my goodness, what a treat! The shower stall is huge and is more than double my height, so about 3.5metres tall? The rain shower has the perfect pressure and the soaps smell delicious. A hot shower must be one of my favourite feelings in the world. Closely followed by the feeling of taking your shoes off after a long day (especially if they’re heels) or the feeling of food (like the scampi nigri from Toko) melting in your mouth, heck I could eat some of that now!

There’s only about 30minutes left before we head to the gate. I’m going back to Michelle’s childhood now!

New cooking blog?

So I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands and that has led to all sorts of wild ideas. Each day I fluctuate between being excited to try something new, getting dejected when I get an automatic decline on a job application, perking up when I hear a call or new email, feeling guilty when I’ve spent the past 3 hours gaming..

Aside from applying for jobs and interviewing, I’ve been reading and watching some anime and playing Pokemon Shield and going for aerial classes. So far on track to meet my 2020 goals!

I also thought I’d try writing a food section on my blog – so on the right you’ll see ‘Ayesha in the Kitchen‘ where I’m going to put recipes. I’ll try to keep them simple with no backstory or random thoughts and comments (which is going to be difficult for me!) I’m not sure how I want that page to look like yet so it’s super basic right now. I’ll put more thought into it and if I can’t sustain writing new recipes then.. I’ll delete that page and pretend it never existed :p

I also want to write some lyra tutorials or infographics – maybe when I get better at it ๐Ÿ™‚

2020, the year of..

2019 ended pretty nicely. I went home and saw my family and my darling nephews, Marty had his first experience holding a baby.

Most of the trip was rainy but we got ONE sunny day where we went to the Bird Park :3

Most importantly, we had yummy foods every day, including a hotpot at home!

Back in Australia, we had a fun Christmas Lunch and rang in the new year, new decade at the Ryman Resort with the MPA crew! Here are a bunch of beautiful photos from Luc and some silly polaroids.

We ate, we laughed, we sang, we danced, we got got!

And now, it’s time for my reset, I’ve thought of more concrete goals for the year than usual, so I have no excuse, I can’t allow myself to take shortcuts. Up first, in the “General Life” category –

  • Find a fun new, hopefully permanent job!
    Yes it was my last day at AL on Friday. It was a short and sweet adventure and I’m glad I sated my curiosity of the VFX industry. Of course I’ve only seen and felt the tip of the iceberg but I am in a better place than before.
  • Learn 6 new recipes/try cooking 6 new things (cooking or baking)
  • Keep my new indoor plant babies alive and healthy
    I received stole a Rubber plant at Secret Santa and recently bought a Peace Lily to help sleep better ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Write here at least once a month, and write something meaningful and try to stop ranting so much and feeling sorry for myself :p
  • Read 6 books, once every 2 months is do-able right?!
  • Get lasik eye treatment
  • Get Australian PR (can’t really influence this one, might stretch into 2021) and then plan move to the US

I’ve been feeling like a potato, I need to stop being half-assed and actually exercise more consistently.

  • Fix back posture. Think I’m doing OK on this one, I actively remember every 10 minutes or so to straighten up, hopefully it becomes subconscious soon!
  • Achieve front and side splits
  • Advance 2 levels in Lyra, currently in Emeralds, so I need to complete Rubies!
  • Advance to High Intermediate in Tennis (honestly might be the toughest of my fitness goals just cause how difficult it is to get a booking – I know this sounds like an excuse but it’s true!)
  • Achieve Handstands! (this is a stretch goal, a nice-to-have :))

People need to set fun goals too! Soooo, I’d like to..

  • Get better at snowboarding (possibly go overseas a snow holiday to NZ or Japan if I can nail my S turns!)
  • Visit NZ and try swimming with whales (this goal is to be fulfilled before moving to the US so can be delayed to 2021 depending on circumstances
  • Attend a music festival or some other fun event overseas.

GAMES! It’s silly but I really do want to complete these games, because even though I love games, I get distracted so much from them!

  • Finish Breath of the wild
  • Pokemon Shield
  • Witcher 3
  • ?
  • ?? (leaving a couple blanks for games that come out in 2020 and I want to make time for!)

On top of those goals I’ve also decided that I’m now discarding all my old negative thoughts – what I mean is that I’ve done a bunch of stupid shit, I said stupid things and hurt people. I’ve been careless, blunt and rude over the years and I’ve held a large amount of guilt and remorse inside me.

To the people whom I’ve offended who I possibly will never see again – I’m sorry.

Some people who I’ve pissed off, have blocked me online and pretend I don’t exist – I’m sorry.

I don’t have the time or energy to think about you and feel bad anymore. I hope you understand I was young, stupid, naive and careless – and can get over that. I’m done beating myself up for silly things I did in the past. I can’t undo it so I hope if we meet again, you give me another chance and forgive my past self.

I want to look forward and work on my present and future.

Reset

Today I’m flying home for a visit after almost 4 years. The last I was in Singapore was for my brother’s wedding which was on –

2nd Jan 2016

This time, I’m excited to go home and fully intending to spend all my time with family. I used to want to run around and be outside with friends all the time but I have very little desire to do that now, a sign of getting old?

This trip home is going to be a reset button for me.

I’ll come back 15 days later, just a week before Christmas.

The day I land I’ll will be moving apartments, I’ll need to find a new job, it’ll soon be a new year, a new decade.

2019 has been a strange year. I set up to accomplish a hell lot but I’ve met so many unexpected hurdles, I thought I had a routine from 2017 and 2018 but 2019 just felt off-balance. My habits changed, my perceptions changed, my lifestyle changed, heck even my facial structure and appearance changed. I’m going to believe everything changed for the better / will end up being a change for the better.

See you in 2020!

Or maybe slightly before if I decide to write about my trip! ๐Ÿ˜›

New Smile

440 days of diligence later, I was finally allowed to take off my aligners. This was 440 days of wearing them for approximately 22 hours a day, from 3rd June 2018 to 16 September 2019.

Most of you probably think it’s like retainers, but it’s actually more like braces. Every 2 weeks I swap out my aligners for a tighter set. The pain is very similar to braces, I know as I’ve also had braces before. The trick is to only correct your teeth after your wisdom teeth are out rather than at teenagehood otherwise they move again D:

Aligners stain very easily too so while they’re on, one shouldn’t be eating or drinking anything besides water. I learnt this lesson very quickly as I ate a gummy with them on in my first week and the transparent plastic turned yellow immediately into visalign.

Now I can proudly show that all the gaps in the bottom row of my teeth have closed and my bite has changed with my teeth being pulled inwards by elastic bands. This has caused a slight change in the shape of my face. I love it!

While I’d like to show better before/after pics, it’s not easy to show all my teeth in a regular smile so these will have to do.

You can just see the gaps on my bottom row on the left and a chubbier face shape, and the right shows my new blonde hair, a more defined jaw and while you can’t see the bottom row, I assure you – NO GAPS!

Yahoo!