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347 articles in category Personal / Subscribe

Two years ago, I wrote and published a short ebook titled Swimming with The Sharks. It was a 20,000-word PDF file containing stories of my life after graduation—how I got my first full-time job and threw it away, and how I got my second full-time job and threw it away. Ah, life was good.

Two years later, like all writers out there, I Googled my own name to see what the world know about me. (Ahem, don’t tell me you’ve never Googled your own name before.) I found my website, my LinkedIn profile, my Twitter account and this: a Goodreads page on my ebook.

There was a review on it, a good one, and I was excited. I took a screenshot and sent it to my fiancée. He disappeared from the What’sApp chat for two minutes. The next thing I knew, he had straightaway went to Goodreads to rate the book.

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I have only been to two funerals that I remember. One is my grandfather’s funeral from my Mom’s side, who died of lung cancer when I was eight. I didn’t remember the songs we were singing, but I remember we did sing some songs. I remember going to the funeral house at night and talking to relatives and strangers alike. I remember sitting down on the side of the casket, my sisters sitting beside me, listening to the pastor talking. I remember looking down the casket and seeing Kung Kung lying there, wearing a flawless black suit and white gloves, his hands folded on top of his chest. There were two white cottons stuck on his nose holes. I remember the funeral the following morning, where we throw flowers and water to the freshly dug earth.

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Having been engaged for almost one week, I want to tell you that life’s pretty much normal. Despite what my friend told me on the day, I slept very well, thank you very much. I cleaned my apartment and had coffee and went out with friends.

I’m happy that I’m engaged, but apart from being self-conscious about the ring on my left hand’s fourth finger, life’s still, pretty much, the same.

A lot of people see proposal as something life-changing. It’s such an important day, and there’s so much pressure to make it perfect. It has to be a surprise. It has to be something very meaningful. It has to be grand. It has to be magical. And remember the year where everyone seems to propose with a flashmob? Yeap, good luck topping that off.

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It was our fifth anniversary.

We actually never knew the exact date when he first asked me to be his girlfriend. I thought it was on a Thursday night. He thought it was on a Wednesday the next week. So we settled on something: let’s make our anniversary the day when he first asked me out for coffee.

Our fifth anniversary, or five years after he wrote on Facebook chat, ‘Let’s have coffee’, started like any other day. The only thing that was weird that day was the fact that he was already on my doorstep at nine-thirty in the morning. Usually, we would have just started saying good morning at nine-thirty on a Saturday. As he lived one-hour away, he would have woken up at seven that morning. It was weird, but probably he was just wanting to prove something.

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I walked inside the office room – the room in the corner of the first floor which window looked down directly to the front gate of the university. At one end of the wall was a huge bookcase full of academic books, and at the other end, well, the big window.

Professor Mark sat down on his L-shaped office table, glued to his Mac, as per usual, before he noticed me, smiled and said, ‘Ah, Marcella, come on in.’

I smiled and mumbled that I’ve been good, and put down my two bags and took out a draft of my third chapter. It was the most important part of the thesis. I was so proud of it, but I didn’t know what he would say about it. I had sent the piece on Friday and enjoyed the long weekend. Today was Tuesday, and I would find out the verdict.

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Are you one of those people who are very scared to disappoint people, namely, the sales clerks with whom you have accidentally made an eye contact and now asking for ten minutes of your time to let them talk about a certain item you’re never going to buy, like, ever?

Well, welcome to the club.

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Every time I encounter a mini quarter-life crisis, I change the wordings on my About page.

There was one time when I chose to divulge everything – putting all personal information about my life. Another time, I chose to be seen as a professional, and tell the chronological story of the jobs I did and the ones I’m doing now. Other times I get emotional and tell the backstory of the blog and how I come to ‘be me’.

I can promise you that it will keep on changing.

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself in the past few weeks, it’s that the futility of doing something when clearly my heart’s not in it.

I’m quite a fast do-er. Once, I wrote two chapters of my thesis in two days. Of course, I have to rewrite both chapters, but I did do it. I did a same-day kind of highlight video on an event in four hours. For a rookie, I think it was impressive enough. In November last year, I wrote the first draft of a 60,000-word manuscript in three weeks.

(That’s gonna be another story, but I really do have a very exciting news to share. I’ll let you know when I know more about it.)

But most of the times, I do things according to the heart and not the brain, and it means that I work only in the momentum.

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Some months ago, I was involved in helping to run an event. My job was to do the comms work – writing articles, sending emails, updating statuses and images on social media. But if you have been involved in running an event for one hundred people, you would know that everyone would be doing multiple jobs, and not just the one they are assigned to.

Doing an event is hard. It is draining and tiring. There are the pre-event activities, where you try to spark people’s interest in coming to whatever it is you are holding. You would then have to call the sponsors and manage the activities. You would have to call the caterers to provide food. You would have to be present one hundred per cent during the event, and help every department that lacks manpower.

That day, I had been working since morning and all that had been going inside my body was one cup of coffee. By one o’clock in the afternoon, I was starving. I headed back to the main room as they would be serving lunch.

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For me, twenty-sixteen started with a text.

My family – my parents, my first sister, her husband and her baby boy and I – were spending our Christmas and New Year’s holiday in Japan. We were somewhat lost, and trying to find our way back to the hotel from the train station. Suddenly my phone rang. My cousin sent me a Facebook chat: ‘Ella, are you in Japan? My father told me to tell you that Empo is currently at the hospital. She has stroke.’

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