Diary entry 21/1/2023
CNY is really early in 2023. Everything feels like it’s in a rush. From Christmas to the New year, and now to the Lunar New year. Barely did any new year shopping for goodies and for the first time since I started work, I did not buy any Bak kua. Haha
The variety of new year goodies also dwindled sharply, I’m not sure why either. I do eat everything, the usual egg rolls to pineapple tarts and all. I usually shop and make sure there is one of very type because I liked the luxury of choice when I plonk myself down in front of the TV with the family.
This year, I have pineapple tarts, a bottle of chilli tapioca chips and some peanut candy. That’s all I bought after going through the aisle in the supermarket. My wife got 3 different brands of pineapple tarts from different places. Ferrero Rocher chocolates appeared one day out of nowhere, and so did a tin of crispy cuttlefish. My kids told me my in laws brought them, perhaps they think our choices for new year goodies are a bit lacking.
The thing is we’re not expecting any guest this year, we’ll be out visiting most of the time. I felt it’s not necessary to stock up so much at home because chances are they will either go to waste or waist.
Just last night, my wife was complaining that she cannot fit into her cheongsum while munching on pineapple tarts.
Wife : can see my tummy right!
I looked at the slight bulge and then at the bottle of tarts in her hand before telling her to keep that piece for our bedroom fun instead. Moments later, I have pineapple crumbs sprinkled in my hair and greasy fingers wiped on my cheek.
Then I had two pineapple tarts forced into my mouth.
Wife : EAT!…EAT!!!!Married life is about growing fat together! EAT!
It’s a mad rush for work because a few clients are rushing to firm up some stuff before CNY, leaving me with very little time to write. I hope to catch up on some of my writing this long weekend.
The payout for freelance delivery is really good these few days, so I made it a point to grab a few jobs close to home no matter how tired I was. Payouts from these go straight into a separate account for savings/investments immediately. A die die cannot anyhow touch account because that is my fall back when I transit eventually.
Interest rate is also a constant worry because the plan I locked into is due to expire early 2024, which meant I have to start shopping around for an alternative end 2023. God knows what the rates are by then, hopefully it comes down a little.
Since late last year, I’ve started to change the way I work in my day job. I moved away from some time consuming matters which I don’t enjoy, told my partner I’m fine with taking lesser pay but I want to free up more of my time. We reorganized the way we split our workload and I’m doing more of design & 3D now and less of site works and coordination.
This will free up more time for my writing and editing.
I’m striking a balance now between day job and writing, which partly explains why some of the recent titles are getting a little longer in length with richer character development. In short, I have more time to day dream and think of erotic ideas. Haha.
Taken as a whole, I think I’m in a comfortable zone at the moment with a careful balance being struck. Sounds like I’m juggling a lot on my plate, but this is life isn’t it?
Being an adult is like a clown, we smile even when we don’t want to, we try to please people around us be it at work or play. We juggle work, family, life, friends and a whole load of other crap that comes out way.
Everyone wants to HUAT big for the new year, but the biggest wealth is our health isn’t it? I hope everyone will stay healthy, and that everything your heart desires will come true.
2023 will be a good year for all of us, I can feel it.
And to my beloved Singapore, I wish her
Diary entry 19/2/2023
2023 began with several temptations for me.
I don’t meant temptations from the opposite sex, if I’m a young, suave man with deep pockets, maybe it might happen. As a uncle with family, kids and practically progressing nowhere in terms of career development, no one will give you a second thought.
Ever since I embarked on my little adventure to try and write full time, I made a conscious effort to keep in constant contact with industry peers. From old clients to former colleagues and even classmates from decades ago. Throughout the years, I do have job offers coming my way. However I turned them down because of several reasons.
Yes, money is one of them, it’s nowhere near what I used to get. I know I shouldn’t be choosy and all, perhaps if I’m not chasing a dream and looking to pay the bills and continue the grind, I would have already accepted some of those. The offer is simply not good enough, considering the work, the stress and the potential hours. I would rather spend more time with the family, and my wife has never been particularly fond of me spending too much time on site given how dangerous those places could be.
Early in Jan, I was having dinner with a former client I was quite close with. He made me an offer which really shook my resolve. A position with a boutique developer. Pay is ok, about 18% less than what I was getting but I’m quite ok with the informal package offered. I told him I need time to think about it especially with everything I have on hand at the moment.
He’s very understanding, he’s aware of the partnership I’m doing at the moment and says if I needed time to wrap things up, we can discuss about starting part time.
I spent more of my CNY break thinking about the offer and the changes to schedule if I were to take it up. The family has already gotten use to the routine of me bringing the kids to school and back. That I will be cooking dinner from Mon to Thurs, my wife can concentrate on work knowing that if the kids need anything, I will be there.
If they are not feeling well, I will be the one to bring them to the doctor, I will be the one to stay at home with them. 80% of housework are done by me, and I take care of the groceries and all the bills.
If anyone needs a ride to anywhere, I’m the driver.
Yes, basically I’m the house-husband in a way at the moment.
So the thought of changing all of these is rather scary in a way. Who is going to do all these if I go back to full time work?
Before I could decide, another offer dropped onto my lap. This time, it was from a 5 star hotel chain with a large property portfolio.
Pay offered is 20% lesser when what I use to draw but meals are provided and in terms of career progression, this one offers a much more tempting pathway. It’s a small property team and the boss hires through word of mouth recommendation most of the time. A former classmate is now a director in the company and he got me out to have a drink with his boss one evening after CNY.
He liked me immediately and asked if I would like to join his team. It’s not a big role, but work wise, it’s practically what I used to do.
I’ve spent a large part of February thinking about my next step. I’m planning to have a talk with my wife about this tonight to hear her thoughts.
I’m very clear what I want to do in life, it’s not going back to regular office/site work. I want to write. However, sometimes even the strongest resolve can be shaken by the most tempting offer.
At the moment, I’ve listed out the pros and cons in an excel sheet and everything is still geared towards keeping things status quo, but I think it will only be fair if I discuss this with my wife to hear her opinion.
Then there is the hot new neighbour that I just got to know at the playground. A mother in her mid-thirties. Hahaha. We exchanged numbers because our kids play well together and she was asking if we can do a play date in the future.
My wife thinks she’s hot too, she wonders why I always bump into her.
Honest to god, I never timed my departure and arrival to coincide with hers, she’s just a very friendly and beautiful lady. Almost every father by the pool is staring at her when she swims. I’m also keenly aware that my wife is staring at me to see if I’m staring too long at her.
Anyway, I’ll make up my mind about the offers by end of Feb. It’s a big change but even if I were to accept it, it will not change what I want to pursue.
I want to write for a living.
Nothing will change that.
Diary entry 28/2/2023
Reflections at Bukit Chandu.
Bukit Chandu, or Opium hill, is named for the Opium packing plant which used to exist at the foot of the hill.
Today, it’s a museum that chronicles the story of the Malay Regiment that fought against the Japanese in 1942.
I first visited the site as part of a national education tour many years ago as part of some cohesion thingy after in camp training. While I was there, the site, the location and the story which takes place more than half a century ago inspired a short scene in a story of mine, My adventure as a hawker.
You may recall a particular scene where the male lead and his friends faced off some aggressors at Bukit Chandu.
I recently visited the museum again and there’s been some changes. The site has been closed for 3 years for upgrading.
It’s not a big museum, I think an hour is more than enough to soak up the history. Please google and look for the closest carpark if you drive, Carpark C is the closest.
It’s just a flight of stairs away from the museum.
Don’t be like me who just parked at the open air carpark right after turning into Pepys road. I can still remember my wife’s expression when we saw carpark C after the trek uphill. She would have bayoneted me if the exhibits were not secured.
There are some activities going on with a few tentages set up when we visited. There are staff giving a short demonstration about surviving in the jungle, making a water filter, even some hands on first aid thing which the kids really enjoyed.
Took some photos of the various setup.
While the wife and kids busied themselves with the fringe activities, I had time to go through the exhibits. I like visiting museums, be it local or foreign. Reading about history reminds me how lucky I am to be born and raised in this era.
It helps with my writing too. Just standing at a corner, looking at the artefacts excavated from around the site rekindles the spark whenever I hit a writing block.
It’s definitely worth a visit.
The Malay Regiment faced enemy troops nine times their numbers during that battle, they held their ground for three days.
After the visit, we went to a café for ice cream. My elder child asked me what do we do if there is a war in Singapore, where do we run to?
My wife immediately replied, ‘ Papa is so stubborn. He won’t run one. He thinks he is Rambo.’
My kids don’t know who is Rambo, they assumed my wife meant rainbow and asked what has rainbow got to do with this.
My wife gave up trying to explain and we changed topics to decide which other museum to visit the following weekend.
Just before bed, my elder child asked me the same question again. She seemed to be rather affected by the part where Commander Adnan sent his family away just before the battle.
James : don’t worry, we’ll all run away to Disneyland.
‘Tsk, Papa…be serious…!’
I shrugged my shoulders and said I don’t know before asking;
James : what do you do if someone wants to come and take your home, your soft toy, all your stuff?
‘I’ll kick him and punch him in his face!’
I smiled and nodded.
James : good.
I’ll end this update with a quote by Commander Adnan Saidi,
‘biar putih tulang, jangan putih mata’
(Better to die, than to live in shame)
Diary entry 9/3/2023
As the saying goes, opportunity waits for no one. The job offers that I was deliberating about are gone. They found a candidate they can work with, people which I suspect is a lot more decisive than I was.
Back when I had the opportunity to be interviewing others, decisiveness is a trait I look out for too. My wife was unsure about my decision when I raised the subject with her. She’s comfortable with the way things are at the moment. She didn’t mind that I’m not contributing equally in financial terms, she even offered me a sub-card if I wanted.
I told her no, because that will mean she will know what I’m spending on.
She narrowed her eyes for a brief moment before saying I’m too clever for my own good, but truth be told, I know she’s just trying to make me feel better.
I can try and sugarcoat it all I want, but the reality at the end of the day is I would be lying, if I say I’m not a little affected by the fact that my wife is primarily the one shouldering the bulk of the family expenses.
Yes, yes, yes, there is the ego and all, I’m contributing in other ways, yadda yadda. Truth is, unless you are in the situation, it’s hard to explain or understand exactly how I feel.
I’m not insecure about anything, it’s just a ‘man’ thing I guess. The traditional structure of a family has always been the man being the breadwinner, sometimes, I just can’t help feeling sucky about my situation.
It comes and goes, like a woman’s menstrual cycle. On some days, I just feel a lot more conscious about my role in the family.
Anyway, I don’t want to whine about my situation, I have a lot to be thankful for. Aside from having a non-existent career when some of my peers are either holding regional roles or working their way up to the C-suite, I am actually very happy with what I have now.
A long time site follower asked me recently how my typical day goes now that I’m juggling a small business and trying to keep the site going. I remember doing a piece like this many years ago, both my kids were still in childcare then.
Schedule based on the day I wrote this;
6am – My alarm is set at 6am and I’m up the moment it goes off. It’s a struggle to get out of bed, but I will recite a mantra I saw on the internet by an angry, half naked man in the gym screaming and gesturing in the gym.
‘If you don’t even have the discipline to get up on time in the morning, don’t bullshit about chasing your dream’
It kind of resonates with me, I mean chasing a dream is all about discipline in a way.
I will do a bit of stretching on bed and it’s off to the kitchen.
While the coffee machine heats up, I will prepare the lunch/snack boxes.
Today, it’s two slices of white bread with butter & sugar. Not exactly healthy, but the kids love it, so it’s a once a week thing.
I put on some frozen kaya bun on the steamer while the kids wash up and change. Wife will help out a little and it’s off into the bathroom for her own shower and make up. Everyone changes, eat, and get ready for a brand new day.
6.50am – No tantrums today, thank god. There are days where kids will fight, there will be screams, wife will have a wardrobe malfunction, and everyone goes full mental until we step into the lift.
We will all walk to school, it’s about 15 mins, along the way, wife will head directly to the train station. If we are early enough, she will walk the kids to school before I walk her to the train station.
7.30am – Breakfast is usually 2 eggs if I’m not heading out. I had 2 half boiled eggs and a Plain Meiji yogurt because I was hungry today.
8.00am – It’s gym day, I’ll usually be in there for an hour, but I needed to shit. So I left at 8.45am and finished the rest of my workout on the toilet bowl.
9.00am – I start working on my stories, site admin, reply emails, fix issues subscribers reported.
11.00am – Head down to a site to meet contractor. Need to revise some drawings and design because there’s not enough headroom and owner insists on having a false ceiling & a ceiling fan when whole family is like 1.8m tall.
After sorting out the site issues and talking to the contractor, I’m back home by 12.15pm
12.30pm – Delivery. I’m thankful my place is near a lot of eateries, bakeries, cake shops & ice cream shops. I have a daily target of $30. I managed to hit it doing 4 jobs.
2.15pm – I usually cook my own lunch on weekdays and I’m rather famished by then. Since I’m in the mood for some Mala, i decided to make it on my own. I used enoki mushrooms in place of noodles, beancurd, beancurd skin, Chinese sausages, and basically whatever scrapes of vegetables or meat I can put together in the fridge.
By the time I’m done, a steaming hot plate of sinful Mala indulgence beckons. Yes, there goes the gym. I will catch up on some dramas while I eat.
3.00 pm – It’s time to start prepping dinner. We cook Mon-Thurs, and will eat out on Fridays. Today’s menu is corn soup, braised chicken with caulitflower & broccoli. Don’t play play, not only can I write rubbish, I can also cook.
3.30pm – while the soup boils and the chicken is marinating in the fridge, it’s back to my work. I edited drawings, did some 3D renders, made some phone calls and had a short zoom call.
4.45pm – I’m done with my day job and it’s back to my writing. Took me a while to get into the mood to write a particular scene, only manage to get less than 500 words in during the session.
5.30pm – I leave the house to pick up the kids from student care.
6.30pm – dinner, shower, homework, spelling and what not. Wife reaches home.
7.45pm – I cut fruits for the kids, we spend time together as a family.
9.30pm – Bedtime for the kids. It takes about 15 minutes to settle them in and then I’m back out into the study.
10.00pm – I write best at night when I’m not disturbed. I gave myself a target of 2-4k words a day. Unfortunately, I did not hit the target. Only managed 1.5k words. I did write more, but I ended up deleting the bulk of it because it didn’t come out the way I expected it to.
Nights like these are frustrating. The thing about writing, is it comes and goes. There are good days where I can do 4-5k words, and there are days I struggle to do 200.
I worry about getting into a writing block, one where I end up staring at the screen while my mind wanders aimlessly. A bad one can last two weeks or more. Periods like this will also make me sink into a mini depression or sort but they’ll eventually pass.
11.00 – 11.15pm – Bedtime. I’ll do a bit of scrolling on Tik tok or social media feed, but I last barely 15 minutes. My phone will just fall and slam into my face.
And that’s how a typical day of mine go.
Twice to three times a week, I will head out after my wife comes home. I have to meet clients who get off work, or follow up with potential referrals. On days that I’m out, the kids will be asleep when I get back.
Fridays and weekends, I try to keep them free as much as possible. It’s spent with the family, in laws, visiting my parents and so on. I’ll squeeze in time to write on weekends when possible too, sometimes when I have inspiration for certain scenes, I will type it down on my phone and send it to my own email.
I don’t do any deliveries on weekends unless kids are out either on playdates or have some activities.
If there is one word to describe my life, it would be ‘boring’.
I think it’s boring too but this is life, we’re just repeating the same thing everyday until we can’t do it any longer isn’t it?
If you are also a semi-stay at home dad / trying to get something off the ground guy, drop me a mail or message. Maybe we can form some support group of sort haha.
I realized I lacked photos & videos for diary entries like this, sorry, I’m not very good at this content creation thing yet. Haha. I made a mental note to get some videos/photos taken.
At least when you are reading my dairy, it’s not a whole wall of text.
Till the next entry…
Diary entry 28/4/2023
I won a small 4D prize recently. Nothing to shout about, it’s a grand total of $120. I’m penning this down not because i won, but rather, i want to remember the atmosphere when i was informed of the winning.
It’s a Wednesday evening, i’m having a meeting at a client’s place with contractors and home owner. This particular electrician i work with, Ah Hock, has the habit of buying 4D at each place he works on, usually the unit number.
He will go around canvasing if others want to chip in. I usually don’t but i happened to have $2 change in my hand after buying lunch that day, so i chipped in $2. The client, who never has the habit of buying 4D, decides to chip in as well.
Ah Hock collected all the wagers, including $5 each from the foreign workers doing the hacking works, and he placed the bet. I totally forgot about the bet because there are just so many things to discuss and sort out.
Then at about 6.55pm, the magic happened.
It’s getting dark, the house has no lights, everything has been ripped out and removed. Ah Hock was was just wiring up a few light tubes for temporary lighting when he started shouting and jumping up and down in joy.
Tio ah! Tio ah! Hoe seh ah! (We won!)
It startled both me and the home owner who were sitting on bags of cement and going through some drawings with light from our mobile phones.
When I glanced at Ah Hock, his face illuminated by the bright light of the recently installed tube, his expression was pure elation. His joy was clear to see. His laugh, his energy, everything spread like some magical aura.
Everyone stopped what we were doing as Ah Hock told us the number came in at the consolation price. The client immediately asked how much did we win.
Hock : $60 for every $1, so you got $120
The client took a couple of seconds to process the reply before nodding with an uninterested ‘orh’
He seemed indifferent, the modest sum cannot even pay for the digital lock he is considering to get for his door.
However, for Ah Hock, and the two Indian workers, it meant a lot to them. So much more than we will ever understand.
Ah Hock placed a $10 bet, that’s $600 bucks. He comes from across the causeway and works under a local electrician, convert it to RM, that’s Rm1800.
For the two workers, it’s a $300 dollar windfall that they get to send back home that month.
The hollow and emptied out house just echoed with their laughs for a full minute. And when the laughter stopped, i could still feel their joy radiating from their bodies. It’s infectious. Since the total prize from the ticket is not too big, Ah Hock claimed the prize from the shop he bought the ticket from and distributed the money.
We left the place at about 7.45pm and Ah Hock was still all smiles. He went to the bakery beside the carpark and bought cakes/pastries for his kids back home. He asked if i would like some and i said no.
That smile never left his face, not even after he got onto his bike to make the arduous journey home across the causeway.
It’s a few hundred dollars no doubt, an amount that some will not bat an eyelid to. A flagship smartphone can cost $2000 these days, a decent omakase meal easily goes above $200, but to many others, it means a whole world of difference.
Ah Hock used the money to replace his son’s old cracked phone, got his daughter a new bag, and they planned to head to Desaru for a short break when school holiday comes. I asked the two Indian workers what they did with the money, and they said they sent it all back home.
A couple of weeks after that, i still kept thinking about it. I find myself asking the same question in my head over and over again, how much does it take, to truly be happy?
Growing up in Singapore, we’re always in a rush. Always chasing for the next big thing. Bigger house, bigger car, longer holidays, it can feel breathless sometimes. Maybe we all need to take a deep breath and just slow down. Life is so much more than just a race to accumulate things we cannot bring with us when our time is up.
$120, may not seem like a big amount, but it could fill the grocery cart and feed a family easily for a week. I told my wife about my winnings, her eyes lit up initially when she heard i won 4D, but the life drained away immediately when she realised it was $120.
The win, or rather, being beside my co-workers when we won, made me happier than the impromptu sex my wife gave me outside our planned coitus schedule. It made me realised how blessed i already am in life.
Sure, i may not have everything i want, but i honestly can say i have everything i need.
Given the significance of the $120, i know i must spend it wisely. My wife thinks i should donate it, but i disagree.
The reward from the winning was not monetary in nature, it’s satisfaction stems from a reminder of how fortunate life has been to me.
So i need to preserve that joy in a manner that i will not only remember, but one that will allow me to slowly savor it’s sweetness.
Life should be simple, as simple as how all men are.
I spent half of it buying condoms because there is a promo going on online before GST hits 9%, and the other half buying cheap sexy lingerie, bondage cuffs, and a leather mistress jacket complete with mask from Taobao.
My wife is not amused, but she cannot deny that by doing so, i will be reminded of how blessed i am every time we have sex.
Jokes aside, For Ah Hock and the two workers, the winnings were a lifeline, a chance to make their lives a little bit easier, but for me, the winnings were a reminder that happiness comes in many different forms.
Will try to update my diary more often.
*Ah Hock is a pseudonym, and i have a lot of condoms in my cabinet*
Diary entry 4/5/2023
With more and more people returning to office, the number of delivery jobs that fits my filter settings have dwindled to almost nothing.
My app can be on from morning till after lunch, and there are no jobs at all. I risk sounding picky but i filter the jobs by areas. It doesn’t make sense to go out of the way to pick up orders, nor does it make sense to send food half way across the island. This week, i did a grand total of 2 jobs, sending ice cream to a condo and a cake to a childcare centre. That’s all i managed to get the whole week.
Friday usually will have a bump in opportunities but i have a meeting in the afternoon, so the golden hour for me to make a few extra bucks is gone.
Things are changing, and they are changing fast. Half a year ago, i was really confident that i can easily clock $30 a day sending parcels and food during lunch hour. With the way things are moving, i’ll be lucky if i can clock $30 in a week.
As the saying goes, the only constant in life, is change.
There are still plenty of jobs available for the taking, it’s just that my timing are rather restrictive. Evening peak is out because i need to cook and tend to the kids, which leaves me with lunch hours. And i know i’m not the only one looking to clock a few jobs during spare time too.
With no stuff to deliver, i have been spending more time writing and developing the various stories in my working folder. As of now, i have materials lined up for 11 weeks back to back, with many more in various state of completion.
Book 4 is well into the heavy editing stage with 5 chapters edited and ready for publishing. I’m hoping to send Chapter 6 to my editor by mid next week.
There’s enough weekly release to last a while, so i’m going to start going full steam on book 4 for the rest of May. Hope to get 6-10 out before June arrives.
Day job is ok so far. Couple of jobs moving smoothly, hope it stays that way.
From mid May to early June, i expect subscriber numbers to drop due to the school holidays. It was the same case last year if i remember correctly, but things are still looking not too bad.
Still can clock a bit of profit every month.
Checked my HK counters today and Ali Baba is at $80. My average cost of it is $160. Sitting on a 50% paper loss. haha. I’m honestly undecided on this, no idea if it will go back up eventually or i should cut my losses and redeploy the funds to something else.
Bank of China is doing pretty well, i got them at an average price of $2.7, it’s moving up gradually, anyway, will just keep it for the dividends.
Local portfolio, nothing to shout about. No major news is good news. I only buy boring stuff for the dividends anyway.
Please do not buy anything i mention unless you know what you are doing. I’m an erotica writer, not a finance guru.
It’s been a quiet and eventless week, and i quite like things that way. Boring is good when you are at my age i guess.
Talking about age, today an auntie at a neighbourhood bakery asked me about my age when she saw me with my eldest kid. She say i look so young to have a kid that old.
I kid you not, she fucking made my day man. haha. I told her my age and she literally dropped her jaw by an inch. She say i look like too young to be even married.
As i bask in her praises, i did not realise i kept loading my tray with more and more pieces of bread. Everything she recommended, i took some.
When i shared this with my wife, she asked me how much i spent at that bakery.
And i went ‘Oh, i forgot’
But one thing for sure, i’m going back there again.