To say that so much has happened in 2020 is an understatement. To say that it hasn’t felt real, like this still feels like a dream, is an understatement. To say that life seems to hit pause button, that’s everything is frozen, is an understatement.

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Some people you remember for life, some people only in passing. Some leave their marks, some barely leave footprints. Some are gone too soon. – The last time I saw her, it was at a wedding. Mine, in fact. She …

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Hopefully you never have to call triple zero. Or 911. Or 112. Or whatever the emergency telephone number the country you’re in. Hopefully you never feel threatened that you are really considering calling the police.

I did.

It has been a tough few days, if I’m honest. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who would be calm, or at least I expect myself to, in regards to emergency type of situation. I’ve watched countless movies, read countless books. I’ve pictured myself as a hero in those dystopian stories—the one who would actually take chances. But when it’s happening right in front of you and your mind draws a blank, remember this above all else: do not freeze.

I froze.

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I have to admit, I haven’t been reading as much in February. I’ve read one fiction, which is so good, and one nonfiction, which is good as well. That being said, I DNF (did not finish) one.

I rarely DNF a book and probably this is only the second time I’ve done it. But I’m trying to be better at DNF-ing books that I know I don’t enjoy reading, as there are too many good books to enjoy instead!

Reading has definitely taken a back seat these past few weeks, as I’m deeply engrossed with other projects (indoor gardening and cooking), but there are a few books that I’m really keen to be reading soon, so perhaps I’ll read better in the coming month.

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Last week, I attended a situational awareness training at my workplace on how to deal with upset, difficult, or aggressive customers, and the trainer was talking about empathy. I know that this doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with cooking, but hear me out.

He told us about his encounter with a stranger on a train with whom he felt a strong connection to. At that time, he was undergoing a really difficult time—his wife had just died. He was sitting on a train, reading newspaper, when a woman in front of him asked him whether he was divorced. There was a line on his finger where his wedding ring should be.

He told her that that he has been widowed for three months, and that he has three little children.

“So you know how difficult it is to be in the kitchen then,” she said to him. He was offended. Just because I’m a man doesn’t mean that I can’t cook, he thought.

“Oh, no, no,” the woman said, realising his face had changed. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m referring to feeling the dread when entering the kitchen, thinking, What should I cook for dinner tonight?”

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Is it just me, or every time I buy a package of Enoki mushrooms, I couldn’t finish it in one cooking, and half of them would end up in the fridge somewhere, forgotten, before being discarded?

Probably it’s just me.

Anyway, I was buying a package of Enoki mushrooms the other day to make Kimchi Soup, and I realised that using the whole thing is just too much Enoki. So I save half of them in the fridge for another cooking, determined that I would cook them tomorrow, because if not, I’ll forget.

After browsing for Enoki side dishes, I’ve decided to make this recipe. And it’s so good, it will straightaway go to my weekday rotation!

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Your husband wakes up before you do.

This has always been the case, as he goes to work earlier than you—on the days that you have work anyway.

His alarm rings, and you are aware, just vaguely, when he reaches down to turn it off. He goes back to sleep, as he always does, for an extra minute or two, and you’re vaguely aware of this too. You occasionally give him a pat on the shoulder when you feel like he’s been laying down for more than a few minutes. Then he gets off the bed, and heads to the shower. You would then grab the blanket that’s been misplaced somewhere, pull it up until just above your neck, and snooze a second time.

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Another year, another #GoodreadsReadingChallenge to do.

This year, I’m setting the same number of books to read as last year: 48. I might go over the number (as I did in 2018), or I might even go lower. But what’s important for me is that I enjoy the reads. One book a week has allowed me enough time to really digest the words, and yes, I’ve read four books in January!

I’ve started the month slowly, reading four nonfiction books—most of which are quite easy reads. I really recommend The Good Women of China by Xinran, which was recommended to me by a colleague; it’s truly an eye-opening book. Being of Chinese descendant myself, I understand a little bit about what’s been happening in my ancestral country, but I have no idea that the circumstances are that, well, bad for women who live there. My heart aches a lot when reading that.

On the other three, I do recommend Reading Allowed by Chris Paling, only because I work in the library and this book, which is written by a librarian, sums up very aptly on what working in libraries is all about. Contrary to the public’s belief, working in the library is more about customer service than books. It can be quiet at times, but most often, we get to see very interesting things happening at our workplace.

So without further ado, here are the books I read in January.

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Another easy pasta recipe.

I cook bolognese once every few months, as I usually make a huge batch and freeze three-quarters of them into separate portions, ready to be defrosted on a lazy cooking night.

And while it’s time consuming, this recipe is quite forgiving, basically all you need to do is to throw everything into the pan until they’re all cooked and leave everything on the pot to simmer to improve the flavour.

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Ever since I work in the library, I’ve met so many different people walking different paths of life.

It seems a bit surreal sometimes, of how different we all are, and how different are the lives we’re living—how different are the things we want in life.

Take those who work in the library for example. Almost everyone has a different story. One is currently studying, the other is a proud grandmother of three who’s filling her time as a casual. One, I find out, has always dreamed of becoming a librarian. Another comes into the job by accident, and yet he’s stayed on, year after year, for almost a decade.

One has a side business as a photographer. Another used to be a teacher, a banker, an economist.

One travels a lot, every chance he gets. The other has hardly ever left the country.

One thinks of the job as a bridge to the next thing. One really, really wants to be a permanent, and has been waiting for an opportunity ever since.

And that’s just the people working there. The patrons’ stories are even more diverse.

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