Thursday, 26 February 2015

Travel tip: Melbourne International Airport

  • No free Wi-Fi
  • Public showers
Living in Melbourne was so much fun because it was my first time living in the suburbs since moving out of my parents' as a 17-year-old. It was the first time living in a house, with a huge properly equipped kitchen and a huge garden with a vege patch and a barbie and even a hammock. 

Living in the suburbs had its downsides, too. I used to catch the taxis to/from airports all the time. It was too hard to take the airport shuttle then change to a tram, especially since I used to take the really early/late flights. For me, taxis are a night out thing, or a big city thing. I used to take taxis all the time in Seoul too. But Melbourne is the only city where I actually had a taxi app downloaded on my phone. 

I miss Melbourne more than I thought I would. There's always a sense of attachment to any place you've been long enough, but I feel I'd left Melbourne without getting to know it fully, so the novelty of being a Melbournite never got the chance to wear off. Melbourne is such a cool city. I can't wait to go back, soon. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Carpe diem, seize today or tomorrow?

Lately I've been reading and watching a lot about death and dying. Yea. They just happened to be on my book/movie list. 

Sudden death sentences faced with medical conditions, such as in Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan and The Girl with Nine Wigs by Sophie van der Stap; world dooming death threats, in Inferno by Dan Brown and Jupiter Ascending dir. Wachowski siblings.

In the face of death, people say your life flashes by before you. What would you see? The highlights of your academic/professional/personal achievements, perhaps. The moments that made you happy and sad, or the little things like when you used to play doll with your little sister and she was the doll. You may even feel regretful that you hadn't done/seen/said/eaten one thing or another more/less/better.

Honestly, I wouldn't know, until that day actually comes. I think I'd see a sort of Pantone colour swatch though. When Dad rang past midnight that night to say that Mum had had a mini cardiac arrest, and to say any last minute goodbyes to her over the phone, just in case, I just saw static blackness. Nothing came out. When A surprised me with a Bungy jumping dessert after a birthday brunch, I saw a light green sea blueness all around me (a bit like PMS 353). And Daddy singing a favourite childhood song of our's. I think I may have been almost ready for death then.

After surviving near death experiences, wise people tell us to seize the day, to live today as if it were our last. 

If I were to be diagnosed with cancer today, what would I do? This summer alone, one thousand women in NZ get breast cancer, so it is possible that one day I may also be victim to a similar illness. If I were to be diagnosed today, I would leave right away. Back home, to my family, to my loves. I would stop working and, instead, spend enjoying my last living moments with the ones I care about the most. We will go on a long holiday. Go to nice restaurants and do a bit of shopping, maybe. Catch as many sunrises and sunsets, and - oh, yes, please! - as many falling stars as possible. More hikes and swims, barbecues and massages. Then I'd ask to be cremated and set free over the sea, and everyone can have a nice big picnic on the hills overlooking the beautiful blue waters in their summer clothes, and laugh and drink and say nice things about me, then have a group photo to celebrate what a beautiful person I had been.

But living today as if it were the last kind of means living on the spur of the moment. Let yourself go, enjoy life, yes, yes, but ..

Friday, 20 February 2015

Dessert place: Le Parlement by Alex

So sweet. Been having quite a few brunch sessions with girlfriends lately, and it feels so good, like I'm really settling into this place.

Le Parlement by Alex is a tea salon, but the hot chocolate here is heaven.

Le Parlement by Alex
3 place du Parlement
33000 Bordeaux
Tel. 05 56 52 92 86

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Monthly rituals

Look! Colours! Scarlet and crimson tulips, with yellow balls of craspedia. Did you know Craspedia are native to NZ and Australia?

At the start - or end - of every month, depending on how on task I am at the time, I do the following things:

Monday, 16 February 2015

Whiplash (2014) Damien Chazelle



Whiplash made me tense the whole time. So many f-words! So much sweat! And blood and tears. I even cried a little. It's one of those inspiring story where a student grows supposedly to be a great. He is young and ambitious, with raw talent. Fletcher guides him, no, pushes him, to be better.

But, where is the line between just enough and too much? Would that sort of push and drive be possible in my work? How much pain am I willing to endure to succeed? How can I improve in my own field, equivalent of being drenched in sweat and teeth grinding in pain as the blood oozes out, feeling exhausted but also almost euphoric because you are actually having fun despite it all?

I think I used to be like that. In orchestras when we were performing at a competition. During projects I was managing, trying to get all the works from different teams together by a due date. I am not sure if I am still like that now. What happened? What changed?

Perhaps I have lost that sense of what I want to achieve, and a due date by which I want to achieve those goals. Tonight I'm going to update my professional to-do list.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Are you happy?

Did you have a good day, today? 

Valentine's day passed by quietly. Almost silently. A went off on another kayaking day trip, and ended with a quick, 'I love you,' as I was just starting mine out. I talked with my parents, my sister, but sadly did not have time to call gran. Drats this time difference game. 

Outside the closed windows, the skies cannot make up their minds. It pours with all its force one minute, then gives way to a burst of sun the next. What are you guys playing at? Downstairs, I make my way admist the hazy white curtains of cigarette smoke lazily parting to let me swim past. The party I couldn't take part in, nursing my sick self in bed while laughs and clanks of good pinot were happening below. Its traces shoot up my nose and dive down my lungs, white cold traces of the good vibes last night. Almost chokes me. 

Round and round. Whirl, whirl, whirl. White sheets make clockwise rumbling tumbles inside the washing machine. Sunlight makes a brief appearance again, and filters through the open windows. White curtains dance lightly as the chill waltz into the room, partnering with the white cigarette haze. Out the open French doors. I drink in the chill as the air clears. Nausea passes.

An espresso, too bitter and not enough. A chocolate cupcake with a heart perched on top of the icing. Too sweet. A flat white, too milky. My barista hasn't quite mastered it yet. It's okay, it's only his second try. Chats about changing work and chasing work. Travel plans and travel dreams. Time but no money; money but no time. C'est la vie. 

Dinnertime with housemate. Chicken breasts and quinoa and mushrooms and salad. I forgot I'd put a beer bottle in the freezer this afternoon and found it exploded. Drats. I get another from the fridge and open it weirdly and it explodes in the kitchen. Double drats. 

Are you happy with your life? B asks. 

I watched several movies this week. They made me gasp, tense up, sniffle with tears. I finished another book, went on another run, had another snippets of conversations with family and friends, all far, far away. I spent the whole week interviewing various people, asking myself how I would have answered my own questions. Wondering what more I can do at work, what skills I want to improve on, which tasks I don't like doing. Where I want to go from here. At least two people this week remarked how tired, aka terrible, I looked. I went on a 'crazy shopping spree', buying too expensive but pretty nothings, because I never do those things but I've always wanted to, from time to time. I bought myself another weekend away. A quick, worried glance into my bank account. Whew, it's still alright, for now. Where do I want to go from here? 

Are you happy? B asks. 

I would really like a good back massage. But yes, I'm quite happy with my life at the moment. I really am. 

Now, a hug, please. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Dinner place: alle Carrette Pizzeria

Rome has been delightful each time I've visited. It's such a spacious city, ruins everywhere, full of greens and people. Crazy speeding cars everywhere though. But the food..!

I love pasta. Lasagna, Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Tagliatelle al pomodoro, Cacio e Pepe... Remember the recent reunion trip in Rome I went to? It started off with a perfect cooking class by our Italian friend: simple tomato sauce, shallots, olive oil, tomatoes, with basil for its lovely aroma.

My favourite Italian phrase: Io fame - I'm hungry!

Apart from pasta though, of course, is pizza. Both are so simple yet so filling. I like their simplicity, they don't require too much pressure, usually. Both are excellent for feeding a troop, too. From school camps to  college dorms to easy weeknight dinners. When done correctly and presented immaculately, they can also serve well in restaurants. So versatile.

For our last group dinner, we went to Alle Carrette Pizzeria. We took up two large bench tables. Honestly, we were talking so much we didn't even know if the pizza was going into our mouths or up our noses, but I guess part of group eating is all about the atmosphere. The waiter joked with us. Our tables were overflowing with pizzas and pastas and water bottles and wine bottles and glasses and cups for everyone.

We had met quite a variety of people over the weekend. There was a fashion designer friend visiting from Milan; friends from the energy sector; exchange students from America..

The wait into Alle Carrette Pizzeria was considerably long. A crowd of us waited patiently outside in the growing dark, waiting to be let in. But boy, was it worth it.


Alle Carrette Pizzeria
Vicolo delle Carrette, 14
Roma, Italy
Tel. 06-6792770
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