some days I cannot wait to die.
I have taken some time to write this story. The story of my wedding. The day I had dreamed of all my life.
Just as everyone before me had said, the day flew by. As the sun was setting, I desperately wished for time to slow down, to stop completely, that I may bask in these precious moments longer.
I had a restless sleep. I mean who wouldn’t? I wasn’t particularly nervous, more excited. I was proposed to in September of 2021 and I had begun planning since January of 2022.
It was Monday, the first of May, 2023. It was finally here.
I woke about a half hour before my 7am alarm. I could see the rays of sun peeking through the thick curtains of the May Gibbs cottage. The Saturday had been rainy, and Sunday in the Southern Highlands was still quite damp til the afternoon. From the very beginning of my plans, I had told myself that the worse thing that could happen was if it rained. That was the one thing out of my control. So I had over a year of mental preparation of how I would handle the rain, how I would be okay with my hair, my face, my dress, my shoes getting wet. I remember listening to the rain beat down on Saturday night back at home. I remember telling myself it was okay, it would still be a great day. We live on the top floor of our apartment complex so the rain is quite loud, while usually soothing to hear, it was a loud drum pounding away ominously that night.
On the morning of the 1st, I awoke to silence, a sweet bliss.
The hair and make up team were due to arrive at 730am. I had dutifully doused my face, neck and skin with moisturiser over the past 2 weeks since the trial. I had enjoyed a most luxurious body wrap and hair mask at the QT spa on Saturday. Once more, I rose and washed my face and slathered a generous amount of cream to my face and put on my bridal pyjamas.
Cathy and Katy arrived a touch early and began setting up straight away. At 8am, Cathy started with prepping my hair, just as she had during the trial. Cathy’s energy was different today, she was more enthusiastic than a couple weeks ago and smiling constantly at me, as it she were painting the greatest artwork of her life. I loved every moment. So did she.
There was a flurry about the house. Marty got up and went to the Vine room for breakfast. Jessica and Ashleigh delivered coffee, croissants and danishes from Gumnut. My stepmother and sister arrived for their prep. Hilary and Nicola, our photographers had started on the bride detail sets. The party was getting started!
4 (very quick) hours later, Cathy had transformed me into a princess. I had the sweetest ringlets in my hair, my eyelashes were thick and fluttery. I felt so special.
By then Aunty Margaret had arrived with Aunty Carol, who I was meeting for the first time. Uncle Brian stood respectfully outside the cottage full of ladies, unsure where to head to as Martin had left to get ready with his groomsmen at Arafel Park.
The florists from Pia & Jade came to drop off the bouquets, Hilary & Nic returned from Arafel Park and our prep photoshoot began! Hilary directed us girlies outside in our matching pjs to kick things off. Then it was time to get dressed. Ahh! The day was already going to quick!
The girls helped me tape my boobs and djzushed my dress (pretty much endlessly that day) and we had a cute first look with the moms, my sister and aunty. I’m not sure if anyone expected anything other than a ballgown from me 😁 I twirled around and took videos for Cathy and hugged her goodbye.
Many people have asked me about my how I found my vendors. Most of them were recommended by Hilary, who knows Bendooley Estate inside out. At the very beginning, when Hilary and Nic showed me their portfolio over a zoom call, there was this one bride featured with a very dramatic headshot. They said “Her makeup was done by Sophie Lau. Sophie Lau makes your eyes look double the size and is an expert at Asian makeup.” I didn’t think twice. I didn’t bother asking for quotes. I booked Sophie Lau straightaway after that call. While I didn’t have Sophie herself, her first child was due in a couple weeks, I had Cathy Lau – who we have confirmed, is not related to Sophie. Cathy was pure excellence and I would book her again in a heartbeat.
So how did I find Hilary?
The first step in my planning was to find a venue. I decided that I would not ask my mother for an auspicious date. She couldn’t tell me a date for 2023 til September of 22 and I knew the prime venues and vendors would be long booked out by then. For those who are closer to me, yes, I can see you’re shook!
I had my heart set on the Hunter Valley Gardens for a long time. I had visited the place many years ago and simply envisioned myself floating through the gardens, flowers abound, a sea of bright colours. My other dream was to get married at the luxurious Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley Resort. (Look it up! Or don’t! The minimum cost of a wedding there is over 6 figures!)
The month of January 2022 was a back and forth of searches: Wedding photography “hunter valley gardens” led me to several photography portfolio websites. I then browsed the galleries of the other weddings the photographers had covered and discovered new locations. I then looked up “location X photography” and found yet another ten photographers’ portfolios. I enquired with many venues and photographers on their packages put it all in a spreadsheet and saved a tonne of screenshots in a deck. I then culled it down to 4 locations proudly presented my ~30 slides of research to Marty, who very quickly said “It’s too far”.
“I would like a Sydney wedding, or if you want to go somewhere, maybe we can pick somewhere closer in the blue mountains or the royal national park.”
Ahhhhh what??? Okay imma just throw away my weeks of research. Alright. Cool. You wanna get married in the national park??? With the trees and dirt and bugs?
Needless to say I was flustered and disappointed. My Hunter Valley plans dashed immediately. But this was going to be our day. I didn’t want to push for it, I wanted both of us to be like it.
So after a day of pouting. I was back at my desk, looking for locations in the Blue Mountains > photography portfolios > new locations > photography portfolios then I saw it – a stunning photo of Bendooley Estate.
Now frankly, the name sounded like silly to me. Bendooley. BendOoleeey. It didn’t quite have the same effect for me as the HVG or Adams Peak or Milton Park or Hopewood House. It was 90 minutes away on the freeway. It wasn’t too far for Marty and was a destination for me. Perfect.
I made several calls and lined up 4 venue inspections all within 10 minutes of each other in the Southern Highlands.
By then, I had also found Hilary’s website. I compared not only his wedding portfolio to the others but also read the blogs that he and Nicola wrote about their clients, and the engagement shoot adventure sessions. Hilary was first class. Also Hilary’s communications, forms and booking experience were very neat and just the right amount of detail.
Hilary looked at my options and said confidently – Pick the Book Barn. While acknowledging all venues were pretty, he told Estate A was often not well maintained, Estate B had difficult terrain to walk to for the ceremony, Estate C was $$$.
I have to say we were hugely disappointed by all 3 other options, their shortcomings were just as Hilary foretold. Not only did they not live up their beautiful curated Instagram pages, the staff were sometimes inattentive, the wedding service team couldn’t answer questions about capacity or accessibility. One of the venues did not ever follow up after our visit. The venue that was almost triple the price than all the others? No, you just have this small space for your ceremony and your reception is split across two floors because most of the estate is out of bounds. Say what?
But it all didn’t matter. We had gone to see Bendooley and she blew the rest out of the water. From the moment we turned off Old Hume Highway, I knew this place was special. The immaculate parallel column of trees drawing us in, the vineyard to the left inviting us for a stroll, and the spacious carpark, I knew the guests would certainly appreciate!
We had the most lovely Jen giving us a tour of the grounds, the private suites, where the bride would be tucked away, the lake where the magic would happen, the back up options for inclement weather. Behind the veil of Bendooley’s manicured lawns and hedges and I could see a team of professional staff making preparations for a wedding that Summer afternoon. I couldn’t help but imagine us being there one day.
OK Hilary. I want the trees to be red. What day do I pick?
“Umm.. with the past couple years of La Nina I can’t say for sure! The first two weeks of May are usually the best for Autumn colours.”
“OK Jen, what you got in the first two weeks of May? We also want to stay at the May Gibbs cottage please.”
And so, with Hilary locked in and Bendooley locked in, our countdown started.
It was time to head to the Homestead. The house hugged by red ivy’s where I would be hidden from the guests, emerging in an hour’s time to say my vows. The girls took great care in escorting me in from Hilary’s luxurious Hyundai across a metre of dirt path to the steps of the Homestead. Joel, who had kindly agreed to be our videographer, arrived as we were wrapping up the prep photos and made his way over with us and started rolling.
We were all soaking in the pretty Autumn colours when I spotted a figure striding across the lawn towards us.
Oh no! Who let a guest in? This area was meant to be out of bounds until 30 minutes past 2. It was too late for me to hide. We looked at each other, we squinted in the distance as the figure grew closer. Dressed in a sharp suit with cool metallic blue shades, holding a package of some sort under his arms, it was like James Bond had arrived. And it pretty much was! It was my Dad, grinning from ear to ear, breaking the James Bond illusion, as he approached us.
It was an unexpected first look moment and I had to hold back a few tears.
A few more photos and it was time to hide. I sat down and Joel asked me how I was feeling.
I’m.. so hungry!!
Shoshanna popped in to check in on us girlies, a quick reminder of our ceremony walk that we had dutifully practiced the night before (to the music, I might add)
- No robot walk
- Bouquet at the hips (not tits)
- Let Dad loop my arm
- Greet the Groom
- Stand on the opposite side to face my family.
- Djzush the dress
Shoshanna also gave us kitkats, phew, then ducked back out.
The sound of the crowd outside was growing louder, I could hear the band, the laughter and muffled announcements – Shoshanna was doing her housekeeping.
The doors opened.
You could give me chills
On a summer day.
The sun shone.
When we’re laying still
But you make my heart race.
The crowd fell silent.
Gonna keep me young
When we’re old and grey.
Daddy whispered a prayer.
I know that time moves on
But some things don’t change
I took a deep breath.
I won’t stop getting butterflies
I get ’em every time
I look into your eyes
You won’t stop running through my mind
For the rest of both our lives
You give me butterflies
The walk to the aisle felt long. I stepped gingerly, keeping my dress as floaty as possible, consciously relaxing my shoulders, chatting away to Dad, I cannot for the life of me recall what we had found so entertaining during that walk across the lawn. In that moment, it was just Dad and I, just a casual conversation, not a care in the world. I had ever so temporarily forgotten where I was.
Once we hit the start of the aisle, and everyone’s eyes were on me, I suddenly re-focused. To my right were big happy smiles, some waving, some clutching their hands together in prayer. The moments down the aisle felt like slow-motion, there were happy-crying faces to my left and many desperately holding back tears.
Then I looked ahead. At my husband-to-be.
I had thought about this moment countless times in the past year, with a particularly high frequency in the final weeks, and every time I played “Butterflies” I would starting sobbing.
To be completely, transparently honest,
on 1st May, at 3 hours past noon, I did not feel urge to cry.
Something my sister-in-law Irene had said to me, back when I was at their engagement ceremony stuck with me all this time. I had a stream of happy tears running at their happy occasion, the speeches and wishes were heartfelt and I remember Irene smiling the entire day, not overcome with emotion like I had expected.
She told me of a superstition “You cannot cry on your wedding day, if you do, then your marriage will end in tears.”
Yup, I can feel your eyes roll.
On 1st May, at 3 hours past noon, I was simply so pleased, by the superb weather, how beautifully the arbour had turned out, how all my family and friends were surrounding me. I just wanted to smile. But. The cameras were rolling and as a guest of several other weddings, ya gotta give the crowd what they want, so I squeezed my eyes and let the tears flow.
Marty, bless him, tried his very best, and could not shed a tear. He was way too happy.
Our bridal party took their positions and just as I thought the procession had been perfect, Dad handed me to Martin, and said “Take care of Alisha“.
Oh you could not have scripted this.
Then came everyone’s favourite part. There is no way I could write this better than Shoshanna did, so here’s what she prepared for our love story, read it with the most dramatic voice in your head, then double that.
It was late in 2015 in the depths of Runeterra, a world steeped in ancient magic, inhabited by mythical creatures, where two warriors were thrust together by fate in the heat of a fierce League of Legends match. Ayesha, a spirited and tenacious gamer, found herself encircled by a motley crew of combatants, some of whom were complete strangers. If this wasn’t enough to put her on edge… just as they were about to spawn into the game, the mastermind behind this custom battle, Jon, dropped the phrase “he’s a pro” into her ear… the words were about Martin, Ayesha’s adversary who had earned a formidable reputation across countless virtual battles. His presence on the opposing team infused the air with a sense of trepidation and excitement. The digital arena pulsated with energy as the two teams braced themselves for the impending clash. Amidst the uproar of battle cries, the thundering of war drums, and the chaos of strategic chatter, Ayesha and Martin found themselves swept into a thrilling contest of skill, as their champions collided with a ferocity that reverberated across the battlefield. The atmosphere was electric as the tension between Ayesha and Martin escalated, tempered only by a mutual appreciation for the challenge they presented to one another. As the final moments of the battle loomed, the scales of victory swung in Ayesha’s favour as her unwavering determination helped secure her team's triumph and destroy the enemy Nexus.
I could not fathom a better celebrant than Shoshanna. It was just unlike any experience I had.
On 18th May 2022, we had our first call with Shoshanna, she was our first “candidate”. I found the whole process quite funny, it was treated like an interview and we had multiple candidates lined up to try sell themselves to us. Shoshanna was easygoing from the start. She listened very carefully to what we wanted and immediately gave us several scenarios to bring our vision to life.
For due diligence sake, we went through with several other celebrant interviews, but I already knew she was the best.
Shoshanna took the care to involve all my loved ones, my grandmother, my parents, my siblings and nephews. My family means a lot to me and I am eternally grateful for the care that went into ceremony.
We exchanged our vows, we slid on each other’s wedding bands, we kissed.
Okay, can we just appreciate how freaking awesome the florals were?!
In my search for the venue and photographer I had perused a huge variety of wedding looks, I looked at the album of Sophia & Dale (one of Hilary’s clients), it was simply love at first sight. I had to have a big round arbour, just like theirs!
I reached out to their florist and asked to replicate this look, and the response was:
Due to the venue operating as a restaurant in the day bump-in times were very early and short, plus labour costs would drive the price up as they would need to stay overnight in the area. They told me to allocate a minimum of $8,000.
I said that was fine (I mean I’ve never planned a wedding before or had to organise florals for any events, so I was going off all the information I had from this really terrific Facebook group Wedchat by Wedshed – thanks for adding me Katie!). They ghosted me for a bit then suddenly came back a couple weeks later with “I have had an overall look at what you’re after and for the allocated budget and I would advise to choose a florist closer to the highlands as you won’t need to pay the extra travel/accommodation fees. Hoping you appreciate the honesty and want you to have beautiful flowers!”
Ugh. I was so upset.
After that came several more rejections from other florists and many florists did not respond entirely – I think a lot of wedding vendors actually have issues with their contact forms, or maybe they misread my date and thought it was super soon in May 2022.
Anyway. I told Hilary about my disappointing correspondence and he recommended Pia+Jade.
Bless him, because just look how wonderful the florals turned out!
(and the cherry on top – they were below my budget)
No wedding is without it’s dramas, thankfully mine had very few. A funny story I’d like to share is about the arbour.
The Wedding and Event Creators were easy enough to work with and there wasn’t any fuss. The round arbour structure is surprisingly uncommon and there was really only one company in New South Wales that had it. The arbour itself wasn’t expensive to hire – $190 but they had a minimum spend of $600 before offering delivery and pick-up and another $400 for setting up the arbour. So I turned to my trusted friend Andy and told him he had the most important job. I burdened with the responsibility of picking up the arbour, transporting it to the venue, setting it up (several hours in advance so the florists could decorate it), disassembling it and returning it. Gosh. That was a long sentence to type – THANK YOU ANDY YOU ARE THE BESTEST.
Apr 30, 7:54AM a voice message comes from Andy
“So pickup went okay, but I woke up this morning and like the very first thing that was in my brain was like there were sandbags on the floor of that shed, ’cause there was like shit everywhere and.. I don’t know why, my brain, just thinking about it, like the very first thing I woke up. But then I was like those sandbags are definitely for the arbour and it’s not going to stand up without the sandbags so I’m driving back right now to pick them up *laughs* which is like a fucken three-hour round trip, but oh well!”
Once again, thank you for your service Andy.
The next couple hours were non-stop photos while the guests enjoyed some canapes. Ah, I suppose if I had one wedding regret it was not having those canapes! I was definitely offered canapes by my friends and bridesmaids but I just didn’t feel hungry then, even though I was fading away before the ceremony. I also didn’t want to risk dropping anything on my dress or jacket and I knew a delicious dinner awaited us.
The sun said goodbye to us as we headed inside. In planning my runsheet for the day I had anticipated that I would be full of nerves before the reception and slotted a 15-minute break. How valuable those 15 minutes were! I had time to pee and warm my feet.
The fire was going, the tables were set and the guests seated. Sally, our day coordinator came to line us up for the bridal party entrance, Oberon Lane hit play on “Celebration!” and it was time to kick off the reception!
Let us take another moment, before we look back on everyone’s second favourite part of the day, to appreciate the stationery! This was my favourite part of the wedding planning, and also one of the last things I did, only reaching out to Jojo on January 31st this year.
By March, my budget sheet had added up the venue fees, the food and drinks package, the accommodation, the transportation services, celebrant services, florals, cake, the band, invitation printing & shipping, photography, videography, hair and make up services, the dress, the jacket and accessories, the suits for the all the boys, props hire, the bridesmaids gifts and other little things. It was already a pretty sum.
I was honestly set on doing my own stationery and getting them printed at Officeworks to save on costs.
My maid of honour, Jessie had helped me with the arched invitation cards and I had decided way back to apply the same style to the rest of the stationery suite. The arch die-cut had already made the invitations quite pricey and if I wanted arch-ed menus and name cards they would be ouchy.
Now, I cannot stress how valuable word-of-mouth recommendations are. Jojo was recommended to me by Dany from Pia+Jade, after I had shown them my invitations and asked if they could print a large arched welcome sign and a cut-out arch like this one. They said Jojo from Rebel Reflect could do that for me.
I visited her site and oh my lord, everything she made was so creative and FUN.
My brief to all vendors so far had been simply “fun”. I had seen countless elegant/luxurious/minimal wedding photos. As pretty as they were, they were not me. Mine was going to be bright, colourful and fun. I wanted my family to have the best experience, to see the friends I had made here and to have a glimpse into my wonderful life in Sydney.
So I wrote an apology to Jojo.
Apologising in advance for the very long email in her inbox with all my dreams, with links my moodboard and pins, and all my thinking-out-loud thoughts. It was probably anything but a slow morning for her on January 31st.
The reception started with speeches from the fathers.
Back in 2021 when I called home to share the exciting news, Daddy asked what I needed him to do, I said, just prepare a speech, I’ll do everything else. I shared some very insightful words I had heard from Jimmy, who said this after I asked him how it was being an MC at Andy & Ash’s wedding.
“It’s great to speak at a wedding, it will be the warmest crowd you ever speak to. Everyone is happy to be there, everyone knows the Bride and Groom and they want to hear all the silly, funny or embarrassing things. It’s awesome. It’s the best time to share stories.”
I heard from Irene that Daddy had quite some trouble writing his speech and was working on it up to a couple days before departing for Sydney.
You did so well Daddy, everyone loved your speech.
Salaamalikum and good evening. On behalf of my wife and family - a very warm welcome to all of you. We are gathered here today to honor something so truly magical, so truly unique and wonderful that it simply had to be celebrated. I am of course talking about the buffet spread. Marriage is a religious duty, a moral safeguard and a social commitment. To my beautiful daughter, Ayesha – today I am honoured to stand here to celebrate your wedding. In February of 2012 when you left home for higher studies in the land down under – little did I realise that one day I will be delivering a speech at your wedding in Sydney. The second child out of three siblings – born in Canada, raised in Singapore and getting married in Australia, as your father, I have watched you grow from looking a like baby seal (we called her that because it was so cold in Canada she was always bundled up) into a strong, confident and independent woman who has always been there for her siblings and for me. You have been your older brother Imran’s best friend since childhood and your little sister Alisha’s role model, mentor and closest confidant. Life is full of fond memories seeing you grow up. Teaching you how to cycle, the swimming lessons, piano lessons. Not forgetting teaching you to rollerblade in our rented apartment in Singapore – which turned you into a rollerblade instructor as a teenager. And btw, I can’t swim, play the piano or rollerblade – but I had very trusting students. Despite many proofs to the contrary, my daughter always thought I could do everything. She even told her class in school that her dad is an electrician – because I was the one who changed spoilt light bulbs at home. Ayesha, I remember the day you left home for Brisbane how quiet the house became without you. There was always a buzz in the house when you were around. You were unpredictable – what will she do next? You made your dad – a grown man cry at Brisbane airport while waiting for my flight back to Singapore after dropping you off at Uni in Brisbane. Like any doting dad, I was worried - How will she survive on her own in this new place? What about her food, laundry, studies etc. But you did it. You have always been a risk taker and a dreamer. You had a dream and chased your dream, defying all odds and surprising many including your dad. Look at you now - you've graduated with a double degree. Moved from sleepy Brisbane to the bright lights of Sydney, found a job and set up home here. And along the way you found your soulmate, while paying League of Legends online - just like how your older brother met his soulmate playing video games online. You should be proud of your achievements. Marty, I have known you now for a few years. I must commend my daughter on her choice. Well mostly. I must applaud your parents for raising such a lovely young man. A charming, humble and down to earth young man who even likes my cooking. I hear you are not only smart at studies with First Class Honours from USyd but you are also an accomplished tennis player, a cycling enthusiast and a marathon runner – hopefully you will have time for your wife. You and Ayesha make a handsome couple and complement each other. As I look at my Ayesha and Marty, I can see how happy you make each other. I am confident you will build a strong, lasting and happy life together. On this your special day, my wife, my family and I would like to congratulate the newly weds. May your love grow stronger with each passing day and may you always find joy in each other’s company. Congratulations my dear daughter Ayesha and my new son-in-law, Marty, welcome to our family. Please take good care of my precious Ayesha. Ayesha & Marty, remember as a married couple, in life there are only two tools that you will need in your toolbox - duct tape and WD40. Duct tape keeps things from moving when they shouldn’t (i.e., its best to keep quiet sometime) and WD40 gets things moving when they are stuck (i.e., keep communicating). Saying I do at your wedding is like clicking the “I accept” box anytime a new piece of software on your computer or phone asks you to read its terms & conditions. You do it despite having no idea what will come next. And Marty a golden rule in married life: If at first you didn’t succeed, try doing it the way Ayesha said. And finally.. The secret to a happy marriage, remains a secret.
I’m not crying, you’re crying!
Uncle Brian and Geoff gave their speeches, Jordan our MC, also said many kind words before it was time for us to give our thank you speech and cut the cake! This part all happened very quickly, and we did not expect how tough the cake would be, with two hands on the knife we just could not slice it all the way through!
The cake from Natalie (Alcakemy – how good is that name?) turned out so darn beautiful. My other “regret” is not taking 1000 more pictures of the cake and not tasting it fresh on the night! But I did get to take the top layer home. We had decided to keep our wedding modern without any religious (sorry papa) or cultural traditions, but I did want to nod to both our Chinese blood so I requested our plaque to say 囍 – the double happiness character, which is a Chinese symbol used during weddings.
I was told by my mother-in-law that I had to keep the top layer of our wedding cake as it’s meant for our first born.
Well the cake’s gone now, but I said I would order the exact same cake from Natalie for my first child’s first birthday and Aunty Margaret thought that was a splendid idea.
Okay, get up everyone, it’s time to dance!~
I am not someone who has a wide library of music, actually, I feel extremely uncultured overall in terms of music, film or anything kind of arts knowledge. Even people who are super duper famous/all-time greats like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, heck even Beyonce, I can only say I know 1 or 2 of their songs, and absolutely nothing about their lives. So choosing all the music for today was very difficult, I thought this would be a good task to hand off to Marty, but he didn’t give me any songs, except Here Comes The Sun, which was our aisle exit song.
Our first dance was to Stand By Me, by Florence and The Machine.
I’m sad that I cannot remember how I came across this version of the song, but I’m 90% confident it was Jessie who mentioned it to me. Thank you Jessie! I’ve always been a fan of the Lion King and most things Disney. When I was younger, I did often dream of having a fully-themed Disney wedding, so I’m glad to have a little bit of Disney in mine!
Our dance was choreographed by a dear friend Rosie, and Andrew. I had met Rosie through a friend at work and she was a rare type of friend that I instantly liked. I often am very anxious (even if I don’t show it) about meeting new people, but somehow Rosie had a very calming presence and she also has the sweetest smile!
I don’t see Rosie nearly enough in my life, but after a couple ghostings from other choreographers I reached out to Rosie, only a month before the big day.
I had hesitated, because while Rosie is an amazing dancer, and has her own studio, I knew her genres were Hip Hop/Street Jazz/Lyrical and I didn’t know if she did any ballroom dance or wedding dance choreography. But she does! Here is her official wedding dance business – hit her up!
So we had a tight 4 weeks for Rosie to choreograph, teach us from scratch and polish it!
I am incredibly grateful to my husband for going through with this with me. I know dancing is not really his thing but he knew it was important to me and he gave it his all.
After an epic minute and a half of “Stand By Me”, we invited everyone to tear up the dance floor.
Okay I have another small regret I’ve just thought of, how many am I at now? Oberon Lane were flawless in their performance all day and evening. I was too carried away by everything to say hi properly. The award for most seamless wedding vendor definitely goes to them. They were very prompt in responding, extremely clear and I appreciated when this when they supplied their briefing form – “Pro tip: keep it short and snappy! While it might seem like a good idea to include every tiny thing you can think of, in reality it only makes the brief confusing and difficult to follow – succinct is always best.” I definitely gave too much detail to every other vendor.
As the evening drew to a close, we ducked outside to grab some epic night shots, our guests lined up to form a cute tunnel to send us off into our new life as Mr. and Mrs.
Are you still with me because we haven’t talked about the dress!
She’s a Stella York piece and just everything I wanted. A beautifully fitted top to accentuate my little waist and just enough volume and tiers for twirling. I felt like a true princess.
I found her on my first visit to Fashions by Farina. Before my first appointment, I had been so set on getting a Rosa Clara dress, I had found most of their dresses breathtaking, and their dresses had pockets! I also tried on different styles of dresses but let’s be real, it was always going to be a ballgown for me.
Because I found her on my first visit, I was quite worried, was I making a decision too quickly? On my second visit I tried more several more but she really was the one!
It’s funny how it ended up being a designer I had not looked up. Some other designers that I didn’t get the chance to try were Mariana Hardwick or KYHA which were extremely popular on Wedchat. I had also dreamed of a dress from Teuta Matoshi or Millia London if money was no issue. Maybe in my next life, I sure hope they do weddings in heaven.
Okay, I’m almost done.
I’ll keep the rest really short, I promise.
Just a few final special mentions to other magical things on the happiest day of my life.
Hanging florals and lights were something I wanted as part of my styling, but I compromised and went with the MR&MRS light up letters. These were so cute and another super chill vendor to work with, in fact, I did not even see the staff who delivered it, set it up and packed it away. I heard from guests that some lightbulbs had shattered from all the energy on the dance floor but thelovesign did not make any fuss about it!
A huge thank you to the bus drivers who were the MVPs of the night, the one back to Sydney even turned around midway as someone had left their keys at the venue. I also heard someone made a mess in the backseat hehee, but again, not a peep from Prestige Mini Bus after the event. Just a sign of a good time.
The team at Bendooley were exceptional! Kelly, our wedding coordinator; Sally, our day coordinator; Mark, our friendly host during our tasting session and Jen, our gracious host during our site tour – and behind them a whole team of staff, experts at their services making the day absolutely perfect.
To the ninety-one special people who were were present on May 1st 2023, I sincerely hope you continue to be present in our lives and may that day bring you happy memories when you think of us.
This morning, I watched the Sydney NYE fireworks live and up close for the first time (in my memory! I’m probably losing it. I’m 30 after all hah).
It was spectacular! I was with the lovely M/WPA gang and we were the rowdiest but cutest bunch at the Bradfield Park foreshore.
It was 12 minutes of pure joy and wonder as the skies lit up, then some strangers gave us sparklers as we chanted our 2023 goals. I no longer write down new year resolutions or new year goals because I feel goals should be ongoing. I don’t think anyone should suddenly create a goal for the sake of it or force yourself to achieving something that may take longer than a year or might not fit your circumstances at that time.
I have many many goals, some very specific and some not.
I want to get a promotion!
I want to buy my first home!
I want to get a front oversplit and my middle splits!
I want to do a side aerial!
I want to do walkovers and elbow rolls!
I want to do big drops!
I want to take the JLPT!
I want to snowboard confidently!
I want to master more aerial tricks, do more acro, write more, read more, cook more, learn more of everything!
I want to watch more tv and learn more languages. I want to dress better and use more of my wardrobe. I want to be less wasteful. I want to save money. I want to be less stressed when travelling. I want to be more spontaneous. I want to see my family and be close to them.
I want to be kind.
I want to be optimistic.
All these goals have been going on every year and every year I just want to be better.
Earlier this week I shared a beautiful piece done by SBS on Sydney’s erotic deaf dancer on Instagram. I had been so thrilled to watch and read the piece because I played a tiny part in that story. Katia, who is the founder of Sky Sirens had invited students to be volunteers in her film.
Even though I have been a student at SS since July 2019, 26th May 2021 was the first time I had interacted with Katia in person. I was beyond impressed at her ability to lip-read and understand the people around her and teach us a short choreography in 5 minutes that hit the beats of the song.
I had a realization that day that I had not actually interacted with many people with disabilities or chronic illnesses or any invisible issues. Immediately after the class I messaged a friend who is a sign language interpreter to teach me some common phrases as I had a workshop with Katia in a couple weeks time.
Within 2 days, I learnt to spell my my name, say my pronouns, ask for help, ask for a repeat demonstration in Auslan 🙂 Auslan is pretty fun! I managed to use some of it during my workshop with Katia but I also panicked halfway during my finger-spelling as I was signing much slower than I was speaking and I knew it must have looked incoherent.
Anyway, back to what I was talking about now.
I shared the SBS story because I was truly inspired by Katia’s journey and how she didn’t let her disability stop her passions. It was not a disability she was born with and thus had to change her life to adapt to me. When I shared the story, I wrote that I had my own paranoia for becoming disabled one day and that her story was comforting to me as she managed to embrace and overcome it.
For context, I did not say this in my shared story but this is what was going through my head – I have recurring nightmares of being jumped on / stabbed / attacked while walking home and specifically my attacker chops my legs off with a huge machete. Whenever I drive or am a passenger in any vehicle, my mind is imagining a car crash. What if I get in an accident right now? What if that car beside or behind us loses control? What if my legs get crushed?
It’s always my legs because the thought of losing my legs and not being able to dance is horrifying and I can’t imagine how I would live like that. I also have a separate fear of things falling on me and crushing me and killing or paralysing me – i.e. signs / billboards / traffic lights (I associate this from the freak accident scene in the movie Dodgeball)
The next morning, I got a response back on my story from someone with a disability (they are not wheelchair-bound/have not lost any limbs) saying that my comment about being paranoid of becoming disabled was ableist and made the person uncomfortable. They said it was hurtful that I said something like that, even if I didn’t mean it that way.
“You’re saying you don’t want to become someone like me, that you would hate to be someone like me.”
I almost had a heart attack when I read that. I was so shaken that my comment had been interpreted that way. I was completely oblivious and ignorant to how someone would feel. I started to cry. I wanted to dig up a hole and hide in there forever. How would I ever face this person again?
It got my thoughts racing about everything I have been posting and talking about. How many people have I offended? How many people have felt uncomfortable about what I’ve said online or in-person?
I started to spiral for the rest of the day..
If I posted a picture of my cat, saying how much I loved it, would that be discriminatory and hurtful or offensive to someone with cat allergies? Is being allergic to cats and hence not being able to be near one considered a disability? Is talking about cuddling my cat to someone who is unable to be near one ableist?
I’ve decided to take an absence from social media and avoid sharing and commenting on posts for .. some time. My heart is in great pain. I can’t look at social media without being reminded of my erroneous actions. I am very ashamed to have hurt someone without meaning to and making them feel even more vulnerable. I hate that I’m running away but I don’t know how else to deal with this. I need to educate myself more, I need to be more observant and mindful of others. I cannot do this again.
I’m really sorry for my selfish comment.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
Nothing to report.
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.
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.
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 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.
- Make friends with animals
- Make friends with people older than you
- 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 🙂
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!
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! 🇦🇺
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!