Superman dream

I had a dream last night that I was hanging out with Henry Cavill. I don’t remember how we met but he took me to some underground cyber cafe. It was super dark with just a row of computers and some of his buddies were there and one said, “Is this one staying?”

Henry was super big and carried me around like Berserker carries Ilya on his shoulders.

Illya and Berserker : fatestaynight

After chilling and chatting on a lounge in this dark cyber cafe for abit, out of nowhere, a friend of mine from Lyra showed up looking for someone. I got all excited and started jumping up and down “OMG I saw your performance video, that elbow spin trick was wicked!” and she was like “This one?” and demonstrated it in front of us on a random bar from the ceiling.

Henry then got super excited and looked at me with the shiny anime eyes “You do that too?!” I just melted.

And then we chatted about his love for Witcher 3 and I asked him about how filming was and also admitted that I hadn’t played the game and I don’t know the story. He laughed a hearty laugh and told me all about it with great passion. (Not that I can remember it now lol!)

It was awesome.

Can I go back to that dream please?

My PRK Recovery

On 4th Feb 2021, I underwent PRK surgery for my eyes to correct my severe (3.25 – 3.5) astigmatism and mild myopia (-0.75 – 1.0).

This is my best account of my recovery. PRK is known to have a pro-longed recovery time compared to Lasik. While I’ve made my account as informative as I can, as with any surgery, recovery varies from person to person, so please do your own research on the risks and possible side effects too. Overall, I’m not so squeamish, I’m not afraid of needles or blood and have other surgeries before so I’m quite desensitised – what I’m afraid of is that my eyes don’t come out perfect and I have to do it again!

Thursday, 4th Feb 2021
Day 0: Operation day

I arrived at the clinic, signed a waiver and took a couple vallium tablets 30minutes before my scheduled procedure. I suppose I’m pretty lightweight as the vallium kicked in hard and made it very challenging for me to focus on anything. I’m told my speech was slightly incoherent.
I was ushered into the operating theatre and administered anaesthetic eyedrops as soon as I lay down. I absolutely did not feel the eye speculum (that scary claw clamp thing) holding my eyes open, but I did feel the tape used to pull my eyelashes back.
I was told to focus on the orange blinking light above/ahead of me and I did my absolute best. My epithelium was brushed off and my raw exposed eyeball was traced by the laser. I felt several flashes of heat/light on my eye, which was the laser re-shaping and burning my cornea (pardon my terminology, it’s probably inaccurate). My eye was drenched in several eyedrops then a white almost opaque sheet (?) was placed over my eye for 30 seconds or so – again I was so drowsy and unable to focus very well so I’m not sure what this was, I think it was a sort of gauze, and then it was done!
The same thing happened for the next eye, although I am told, the left eye struggled much more to focus on the orange light and my eye darted around causing the laser to stop a few times to re-focus on me.

My natural tear production is higher than average, (haha I do cry very easily at anything funny or any mildly emotional tv shows, anime, live theatre.. I’m hopeless) which is a good thing for eye recovery!

I put on my sunnies and waddled out of the clinic and into the glaring bright sun. It felt like forever walking <100 metres to the curb to wait for the uber. The sun was so bright I felt dizzy, I couldn’t open my eyes so I had to clutch on to Marty’s arms to lead me into the car.

At home, I took my prescribed sleeping pills and slept solidly from 1pm – 10pm. When I woke, I (to my shock!) could open eyes, there was no pain, but a whole lot of tears. I replied to some messages (mostly people laughing at my dazed IG story I had posted just before the procedure), ate dinner and slept til morning. My cat must have detected something was different about me, as he lay beside me in bed all day.

Incoherent Ayesha & a concerned Taro.

Friday, 5th Feb 2021
Day 1 recovery

I had set an 8:30 am alarm for the morning as I now had to take eye drops 4 times a day. The alarm shocked me (how good are sleeping pills?) and I instinctively sat right up and sprang open my eyes, which I immediately regretted because it hurt! Now that I was awake, I was aware of a stinging pain. It was a constant, sharp-ish pain, as though someone was shining a torch in my eye, or when you’re trying to take a photo facing the sun. I was squinting to open my eyes but my eyelids felt so heavy.

I took some Nurofen to ease the pain and my 4x eye drop medication. Seriously, me eyes were so stubborn, I had to get Marty to help force them open for the drops.

30 mins later, though the pain had subsided, it was hard to focus on anything and I had a mild headache, but it was time to go back to the clinic. I went on my own while Marty went to work. Despite being equipped with my sunnies and squishing my bucket hat around the sides of my face – it was still incredibly bright. I found the uber ride so uncomfortable was I was wide awake but unable to look up, just swaying in the backseat trusting the driver to get me there. The clinic is in the heart of the CBD, while super convenient most of the time, unfortunately, a slow and jerky kinda ride through traffic.

One of the doctors, not the surgeon, did a quick eye test and said my eyes looked good. He then cautioned me of no swimming for 2 weeks, no contact sports for 4 weeks, no eye makeup for a month.. wait WHAT!? A nurse in the room quickly corrected him, that it was just 1 week.

No eye make-up for a month? We’d be losing clients!

Nurse, George Street Eye Centre

My head felt heavy, I felt like I could fall asleep anytime in the clinic.

The surgeon, Dr. Constantine saw me next and also said my eyes were good. He gave me some anaesthetic drops and shone some bright light in my eye to check the bandage lens was in place aghhhhh.

I went home in another uber but this time I could keep my eyes open, oh the wonders of anaesthetic.

When I got home, I realised I had worn my pants backwards. LOL.

I slept for a couple hours, alarm dutifully ringing ad 12:30pm for my 2nd dose of eye drops. Replied to some messages, but less than 5 minutes later my eyes starting crying nonstop telling me to go back to sleep.

4pm – woke up, but this time from sleeping too much? I felt super, there was no pain, I could turn on the lights and took a shower. Another dose of eye drops, god the antibiotic ones (Chlorsig) are so damn bitter. Taking the eyedrops made me tear up and drowsy again..

6:30pm I don’t think I can sleep anymore. There’s a dull stinging pain, just like trying to open my eyes to look to the sun. It’s so hard to describe this pain. I walked around my apartment in and played with the cat. All the blinds are closed, lights off and I had sunnies on. I’m like a nocturnal animal right now. I listened to 40minutes of an audio book (The Viscount Who Loved Me – book 2 of the Bridgerton series, I’ve been addicted to these after watching the series of the first book on Netflix) and somehow slept til 1pm the next day.

Saturday, 6th Feb 2021
Day 2 recovery

Omg the pain is here. I said I slept til 1pm but I had woken at 8:30 am momentarily for my eye drops and went back to sleep til 1pm then had another dose of eye drops. According to Marty, I had complained of pain and he gave me anaesthetic drops around 4am and again at 8:30am.

I’m utterly useless this day, I can barely lift my eyelids. I cannot look at anything or focus on anything. I listen to my audio book again for another 30mins and slept again til 5.

5pm – I’m awake and sweating, it’s like I have a fever. I’m feeling very sad because I can only think about my muscles deteriorating and how hard I’ll need to work again to stretch them and build up my strength.

In hindsight this was the most uncomfortable day by far. I struggled to get up from bed, my head was heavy. It was difficult getting to a chair to eat or getting tapping the controls of my audiobook on my phone (which is set on minimum brightness and largest font display size).

I don’t remember much about this day except desperately wanting it to be over. I managed to squint at an important message from Jessie about the new timetable for next term was out and bookings would be open the next morning. I became anxious the rest of the day thinking that if I couldn’t look at a screen over a minute, how would I pick and book my classes tomorrow ? :(( They book out in minutes!

I listened to Bridgerton 2 for another couple hours and dozed off til morning, reminding Marty he had to be awake a few minutes before 10am to help me book my classes.

Side note: That whole evening I had a lump in my throat that wouldn’t go away. I drank water throughout the night and in the morning still I felt it. Ugh.

My cat who had been incredibly cuddly on Thursday (operation day) had been absent for Friday and Saturday but suddenly he was all cuddly again on Sunday morning.

An extra tidbit for anyone hoping to do this with pets. With your sight gone your other senses really do become heightened significantly. I could hear Taro’s soft footsteps everywhere, I could feel his whiskers brush against my skin, I could discern where he was in the apartment almost all the time which felt like a superpower. Then again every little noise he made in proximity of the bed I would attempt to snap open my eyes to make sure he wasn’t biting a cable or ripping any lace/drawstrings or pulling out all the tissues from the tissue boxes. That attempted snap would cause a sharp sting each time and a pulse of dizziness in my head. So.. for those with roaming pets, do try to resist responding to your pet.

Sunday, 6th Feb 2021
Day 3 recovery

The alleged worse day of recovery according to the surgeon, nurses and internet reviews. I was so afraid to wake up. I lay in bed for as long as I could, wide awake, thoughts flying, eyes firmly shut. Taro was circling the bed trying to get as much body-to-body surface with me.

I finally gave in and slowly opened my eyes.

I

COULD

SEE


My eyelids were still only half open but not weighing down heavily. There was no pain, no sting, no irritation. The strange lump was still in my throat. I should eat something, I suppose.

I got up and took a shower with the lights off. I didn’t want to tempt fate.
It’s really wondrous how the eye can absorb the ambient light peeking from above and below the door frame. Just like a camera on a long shutter speed in a dark room. That sliver of light that came from another sliver of light between my blinds and the window soon lit up the entire bathroom. The shower experience was so different, I imagine a sensory deprivation chamber must feel similar to this.

I’m so happy.
I’m on a mission this morning.
I will save my eye-opening allowance for 10am to book my classes and then I shall.. I might attempt to go out and buy coffee?!

(1 hour later)

I succeeded at both!
Though my laptop screen was on minimal brightness, text magnified to 150% and my face was barely 2 inches from it, I managed to book my classes, all by myself!

And then I woke the sleepy Marty and we went out for coffee in the blazing sun. I wore my sunnies and squished my bucket hat to form a shield on the sides of my face but it was still so bright I thought I might pass out. The cafe was probably just 300 metres from home and as soon as I got inside I had to hold my head in my hands with elbows on the table and eyes closed for a good 5 minutes before I could slowly blink them half open.

The rest of the day I felt incredibly bored. My eyes still couldn’t look at screens well so no TV nor scrolling on social media. I could manage a few messages but then had to rest again. I felt the cat being just as restless as I after four days of pacing the apartment in darkness and watching me sleep. When I would get up to move to the couch I would only end up sitting and sleeping there too.

So, I decided on a third mission of the day. I strapped on his new harness – to my great surprise – not a single wriggle or attempt to chew it. He lay patiently as I tightened the straps and curiously looked at the retractable leash as I walked away from him.

I’m not sure he understands what’s going on but he appeared relaxed and was a happy curious kitty outside (within the apartment complex). Our “walk” was cut short by our neighbour returning home with her very sweet and calm puppy. But we decided not to let Taro get close as he’d already had too much stimulation today.

I listened to my audio book for a few more hours and slept til morning.

Monday, 7th Feb 2021 (PS: It’s our 5th anniversary)
Day 4 recovery

I woke up normally, noticing the lump still in my throat, I now suspect my thyroid is inflamed – is this a side effect? I don’t know but I’ve had thyroid issues before. I book the doctor for later in the afternoon. My eyes flutter open easily, I am able to turn on the bathroom lights for the first time since the operation and look at myself. I peer closely and can see the bandage contact lens in my eyes. Wow.

Eye drops remain my most hated part of the recovery. It’s difficult to pry my eyes open to prepare for the 4 sets of drops. I believe it’s because I’m letting so much light into my eye this way and it gets heavy and wants to close. The drops flow down my throat and taste awfully bitter, now compounded with my swollen neck, tilting my head back just feels awful. After each drop I get a few seconds of dizziness and need to clutch my head before the next drop. Ugh and I need to administer drops for 28days! It’s only day 4!!

My eyes still aren’t in full focus, everything seems blurry though I am quite high functioning this morning. Marty goes off to work and I open all the windows and blinds to finally air out the apartment. My god. It’s quite filthy. I vacuum the entire place twice, I empty the bins, I do a big load of laundry and water all my plants. I pick up all the cat toys and run a lint roller over the bed and couch as thoroughly I can.

Much better.

The cat is visibly happy and settles by the balcony doors to look outside. I sit down and realise how tired I am from all that. I think it’s time to sleep again.

I wake after a short nap, I’m able to look at my emails and browse some news, the TV however – is way too intense even on minimal brightness I needed to wear my sunglasses. Even then, I turn it off after a few minutes.

The doctor said my thyroid and lymph nodes looked fine – what on earth is this feeling then???

I decided to forcefully rest my eyes in the evening with more audiobook listening because I wanted to watch the new Attack on Titan episode in all its glory. Around 11pm, I managed to sit through the entire episode without needing my sunnies. Yay.

Tuesday, 8th Feb 2021
Day 5 recovery

It’s day 5! I woke up happy knowing after today I can stop one of my four prescribed eye drops.

A breakthrough! All my 4 eye drops today were fully absorbed by both eyes – usually I have to blink back something – tears? or eye drop medication? or wipe away some excess liquid but today my eyeballs took the whole droplets in – woohoo!

I can now actively feel the bandage lens in my eye. After years of careful contact lens wear, it definitely feels odd having this bandage for 5 days now, I’m itching to take it out.

I worked a full day today, surprisingly able to look at my screen from 9am – 6pm without eyes drying up or getting tired. Wow.

Wednesday, 9th Feb 2021
Day 6 recovery

Today I removed my bandage lens at the clinic. The doctor in charge said my eyes looked good and were close to 20/20. Keyword – close.
That ate away at me all day.

I
want
perfection.

My eyes suddenly felt tired in the afternoon and had to sleep for an hour during my work day. No pain or light sensitivity but my eyes feels… Raw?

Thursday, 10th Feb 2021
Day 7 recovery

I went back to the studio today and had 2 hours of aerial classes!
I intentionally used half my effort so I didn’t sweat to the point I was dripping, as advised by the doctors. By the way you can’t swim for 2 months from doing laser so if you love swimming and want to get your eyes done, maybe plan for your procedure during winter (plus the days would be several hours shorter and way easier to sleep through or open your eyes in, don’t do what I did lol)

I’m afraid to put any eye makeup, I’ll maybe wait for another 2 weeks.

I also cooked lunch today, extremely carefully and slowly, in case any oil splattered on my face oh the horror of oil going into my raw eyeball.

Friday, 11th Feb 2021
Day 8 recovery

Nothing noticeable during my work day.

I’m able to watch TV fine, still on low brightness. I played a new first person game Call of the Sea and got a headache, not sure if TV graphics too strong or it was the first person aspect..

Days 9-13
Nothing to report.


Day 14
I woke up with some irritation in my eyes but just doused it with some eyedrops and lay down for a bit and it was all gucci. Not sure if it was just some dust or cat hair that could have flown in.

It’s hard to say if my vision is 20/20 now without doing an eye test. I do get moments as I preparing to go out where I instinctively look for my glasses to put on or I pause before looking at my screens thinking I won’t be able to focus. I have noticed my night-time vision is better than before – yay!

I’m now back to exercising at home regularly and going for all my classes and sweating hard, no irritation to my eyes. I now apply foundation and concealer to my face but still no eye makeup.

I’m going to try do a short drive to the shops this weekend.

People say laser eye correction is the best money ever spent, it’s been pretty awesome so far and I hope my eyes stay perfect for a long long time. Good thing about PRK is that I could undergo the procedure again if I had to do additional corrections. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

& yes, I do recommend laser eye surgery.

Twenty-twenty-one.

And here we are, January 1st, 2021.

We did it!

Plenty of ink has been spilled about how awful 2020. As early as March, people were done with the suffocating year and ready for today.

Today, we stand at over 83 million infections and 1.8 million deaths worldwide, with a new mutated strain emerging in the United Kingdom. Just over a century ago, the Spanish Flu killed about 50 million people over 2 years. It’s terrifying, isn’t it?

I was pretty fortunate in 2020.

In January, I was lazing in a resort in Cancun, Mexico, blissfully unaware of the storm about to hit.

I got a new job (and still have it).

Marty & I moved into a bigger apartment a couple of months ago and while all I seem to do at home is clean, I’m really happy about the space I have.

We bought a car, yay! Her name is Maeve.

We bought several new house plants and killed just one c:

Because of the changed way of working in 2020, we spent a week in Coffs Harbour working remote – and it was incredible. The 5 other people there were each individually motivated and disciplined during the day. The accommodation was spacious with multiple working spaces so everyone could have 2 rooms to themselves.

While I couldn’t travel overseas, I went cross-country skiing with the best people and learnt to make a good sandwich!

A day before the borders shut down due to the recent Avalon cluster, we arrived in Melbourne and had a full week of fun over Christmas. I finally got to see the adorable Philip Island penguins and dipped in the natural geothermal springs in the Mornington Peninsula.

I said goodbye to some friends as they moved overseas, and welcomed some back.

I moved up in levels in all three aerial apparatuses at the cost of my tennis lessons, but that’s a happy trade. I’ve always loved dance.

I spent a good 6 months this year in the virtual world of Final Fantasy 14 and made a tonne of friends there.

I don’t hate 2020 as many do. It was different, it was a nice break for me. Everything moved slower and I had time to discover new things. I gained more discipline and patience. I’ve grown to appreciate and see the beauty in everyday things and unseen things. I’m more open-minded and accepting and just a whole lot calmer than before.

So, thank you and goodbye 2020.

The Bullies

I picked up “March Comes In Like a Lion” again on Netflix this week. I had stopped midway of season 2 before and now I realise why I did.

This slice of life anime is about a Shogi prodigy who becomes a professional player whilst still in high school. We follow Rei who experiences both personal hardships and societal pressure of being a professional sportsman. He has no friends at school and lost his family at a young age.

However, it is not Rei’s story, or lack of, that made me stop.

The Kawamoto sisters are a notable family that Rei interacts with regularly. Several episodes feature side stories of the sisters, who also lost their parents early on and responsibility of the household falls to Akagi, the eldest.

In the middle of season 2, Hina, the middle child in her final year of primary school experiences severe bullying. The bullies pick on her best friend forcing that friend to move to a different school and out of the city entirely. Hina tries to defend her friend and attempts to talk to the teachers but it falls on deaf ears. Her classmates are afraid of becoming the next victim, the teacher wants no part of this and Hina ends up being the new target.

We watch Hina cry and struggle and try to stand up for herself repeatedly and her efforts are met with failure over and over.

The situation escalates and their teacher resigns. A new homeroom teacher arrives and quickly arranges a one-on-one parent-teacher meeting with each student individually.

Akagi attends the meeting but quickly crumbles under the pressure of promising to take care of her sisters, branding herself a failure. This results in more grief for Hina who is surprisingly able to recover and be the bigger person to ease the pressure off her sister.

This.

This part was difficult for me to stomach. So much that I had to drop the anime for months. Resuming this week, I had to pause multiple times in the short 20-minute episodes.

I have experienced bullying in every stage of my educational life – Kindergarten, Primary School, Secondary/High School and University. It was different each time, but each time I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong to deserve it. Why was I such an easy target?

Each time, after the bullying was over and my classmates would start talking to me again, I would often ask why it happened, they would always shake their head and say sorry. So, til this day, I don’t know why I was bullied all those years.

I can guess.

I know I did stupid things before like telling a senior boy this girl had a crush on him. If only I knew that would bring such severe consequences..

And I once plagiarised someone’s website because I thought they were cool. That caused unreasonable amounts of bullying and negative attention for YEARS. Yes, I know plagiarism is bad but I only did it out of admiration for that person. I’ve often heard in my older years “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery”, I hope my bully realises that now that I never had any bad intentions and I think back on those days and still think my bully was cool. Of course, I should have asked for their permission and expressed my intent and admiration instead of outright copying – but heck I was 13 or 14, I didn’t know shit, why was the world so punishing to me at that age?

Hina is able to talk to her sister and her teachers about the bullying, I never did. Perhaps it was my family environment at the time, home didn’t feel particularly safe, we didn’t communicate well. I turned to video games and online friends instead. I must say I’ve been incredibly fortunate to not experience too much cyberbullying despite how rampant it is and that I literally spend most of my life online since 2016.

Hina’s best friend who moved towns due to the intense bullying writes her a letter about her new neighbourhood and how she’s recovering. Her new teacher gave her three steps.

  1. Make friends with animals
  2. Make friends with people older than you
  3. Make friends with people similar to your age

There is a huge pause in the show between 2 and 3 and it took Hina’s friend almost half a year to write this letter to her own best friend because of the trauma she experienced. This is extremely true of my own experiences. I remember standing outside my neighbour’s house and talking to her two golden retrievers after school each day. I remember the friends I made online were 5-10 years older and I desperately wanted to be an adult.

Step 3 was a huge leap of faith.

I’m not yet a parent but I already know, my biggest fear as a parent would be whether my child experiences bullying. If they do, will my child be able to talk to me? Would I be able to help? Or will I fail like Akagi did? Will I feel threatened by my child’s bully’s parents?

What if my child becomes the bully?

Having experienced so much grief in my school years it’s permanently made me afraid of new friends. I struggle consistently to please other people, what do I need to say to make them like me?

It’s tiring. It’s fake. I don’t like it.

Recently I’ve just decided to try to be invisible so I don’t become a target again. I do my own thing, I talk to my family, I talk to my couple of friends, I talk to Marty and that’s about it.

I want to have more friends, but it’s just very difficult for me.

March Comes In Like a Lion can come off as boring and pointless for some. It’s slow with lots of monologues and barely any explanation of the game Shogi. But if you commit, you’ll see a beautiful and powerful coming-of-age story about overcoming hardships, anxiety, loneliness, and depression.

Give it a go and prepare a box of tissues 🙂

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 😓)

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! ♥️

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! 🇦🇺

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 😉) 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 🙂 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 😀 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! 😀 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 🙂