one of those days i did for me

I always love reading “a day in the life” blog posts, clichéed and cheesy though they are. My mother regularly does them on her blog and it makes me really happy to see snapshots of her life, as we are so rarely together! And I dream of the day I can convince James to share his crazy Afghanistan life in that format. Given how mundane my life is at the moment, it seems like the best way to write about it is to… photodocument it. It is however bordering on impossible to remember to take pictures all day, so these have been compiled over the last month or so and then reassembled into a single day’s worth.

So we start.
My alarm goes off at 6:45am, but often I cannot drag myself out of bed until the last minute. If I showered at Bikram last night, then I’m going to spend bathroom time… reading stupid things on the internet instead. I do *NOT* like getting out of bed.

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Breakfast time. Our toaster’s spring catch thinger has mysteriously died and we still haven’t got round to buying a new machine… so rubber bands and a keen sense of smell do the job. I generally have peanut butter and banana on toast.

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Quick hello to the three-legged ginger cat who squats our porch in the mornings.

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It’s cold walking to work and I obviously look as sleepy as I feel.

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I’ll confess to my wake-up method. I’m ashamed but I’m not, I just can’t help dancing around listening to Kelly! Otherwise it’s my other favourite playlist at the moment, compiled by The Moldy Virgins, aka Sana and Cici my Hong Kong grrls.

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Trams, trams, trams. My commute is 45 minutes, which flies by thanks to my iPhone. Often I listen to favourite podcasts The Infinite Monkey Cage or Answer Me This to block out anyone who thinks talking on the tram is a Good Idea.

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Work. So patriotic, yet so grim.

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I have a window desk. In winter this allows me precious sunshine, and year-round, extra storage space for my crap, including my 10-ton backpack and my handbag. BAG LADY ROSIE.

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I can’t show my desk when it has work on it, because everything is super-confidential. So here it is at the start of the day. Ignore my coffee habit, it has since been reduced to once every 10 days (so I can FLIP OUT whenever I do have a sip).

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I will relent and show you my other workspace: the floor. I am a really visual person, and whilst workmates and bosses tend to arch an eyebrow when they walk past, sometimes the only way I can re-write a long document is to print it out and get out my scissors. On this occasion every person in the office came over to ask what I was doing so I set up a little sign informing them.

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One of my favourite things about my job is that my work-mate G and I spend our day winding up the third person in our office pod: A. Or is he the one who winds us up? Anyway, most of the day is spent teasing each other. Here is A after I told him to google blue waffles (in case the expression on his face isn’t enough of a warning… don’t do it. Really. Don’t.).

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The day drags by till 5pm, at which point I take off my joyful office hat and put on my merry study hat. I set up my laptop in front of my PC, and scroll through around 40 pages of reading for school whilst taking notes. The readings are all online as scanned PDFs, and whilst it is harder to read, I don’t feel right printing off an average of 500 pages per course, which are then going to gather dust in my already messy bedroom. I don’t have a picture of this but it’s nothing very exciting. I am substituting with a picture of my studying at Babka’s yesterday instead.

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Around 7pm I make the choice to either keep studying and stay till late — if I choose to stay, I go to the office kitchen and microwave myself some dinner, then settle in for the night. I’ll catch a tram home around 10:30pm, and stumble into bed around midnight. IF however, I’m feeling frisky, then it’s off to Bikram I go. Either way, I leave the office looking like a bag lady, because I always carry school stuff + Bikram stuff with me everywhere I go.

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Bikram always greets me with a warm gust of sweaty studio smell and The Quintessential Bikram Quote:

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No Bikram pictures, because it would be weird to take photos at any stage within the studio. Then I take the tram home, getting home marginally earlier at the fun time of 10:30pm, which leaves me time to watch some TV shows, waste time online, and snuggle with Coco the cat before bedtime.

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life can be fine if you’re not a bitch about it

I may have had a little whimpering self-pity fest this morning. I woke up from a nightmare where I was stuck re-writing my entire group assignment because nobody else had done their work. This isn’t all that far from the truth. Additionally I was stressing about collecting a parcel from the post office in Fitzroy and couldn’t find anyone to give me a lift — I’ve already had one parcel returned to Taiwan last week, and I was worried it would happen again! And because I was faffing around I’d missed the 8am Bikram session and couldn’t make the 10am session because I had a meeting scheduled at lunchtime. And I was potentially going to have to spend my afternoon re-writing my group assignment. Not what I wanted!

So I stomped around and flailed my arms about and cried because my life should be so perfect and yet shit keeps happening. Then I remembered something one of my little brother’s friends posted on Facebook a while back: life can be fine if you’re not a bitch about it. Out of the mouths of babes…

So I pulled myself together and told myself to stop being such a… bitch? I booked a cab to take me to the post office. $22 dollars for my sanity? cheap! I called my lecturer and she told me not to worry and extended the deadline by another 2 days. Sorted!

My lunchtime meeting — with a French lady art restorer here in Melbourne — was really interesting. After chatting with her for an hour, I went down to the city to meet Supermate Cici.
Somehow the only picture we have taken together since she got here last week, from Sunday night
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We hung out for the afternoon, ate some delicious Korean food, and then I went home to get ready for Bikram.

And it turns out, I’m so glad I missed that 8am class. The 8pm class was led by my Bikram-super-crush Josh, and I had a really strong, enjoyable practice. I wasn’t once tired or dizzy the entire time. In fact I came out of the class feeling really refreshed and barely sweating, which feels almost worrying when it’s Bikram!

I have been keeping a sticker diary recently. I have different coloured stickers for my supplements (calcium and krill), medication, Bikram and library. On a good day I should have all 4 — putting up Bikram AND library stickers makes me so happy! And at the very least, I never forget my various pills, because every day I have to put a sticker on it. You may also spot a couple of white stickers… whisper it, it means I ate meat.

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This morning’s little breakdown seems so far away. I had a lovely day. I must remember that Life can be fine if you’re not a bitch about it.

el pomposo

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Thursday night dinner with my Hong Kong family! We went to El Pomposo and had an amazing and delicious spread of tapas and goodies. This is the kind of situation where I make an exception and return to being an omnivore — meat and dairy are worth eating when they come in the form of European cheeses and cured meats… There wasn’t much left from our feeding frenzy by the time I got my camera out…
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I hate using flash, and personally don’t mind when my pictures are dark and fuzzy, it’s more atmospheric, right?
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Okay, maybe actually being able to see people is better… Here I am with Cici and her lovely, beautiful, kind and funny parents.
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And a big family pic, including Stephen (Cici’s uncle, with whom I am staying at the moment)! We’re missing little sister Kiki but Debbie stood in for her.
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I am really lucky to have such kind and welcoming friends here in Hong Kong. And what a fantastic dinner… almost made me miss the cheese and charcuterie orgies in France last summer!

wednesday kong

On Wednesday morning I caught up with Dawn, who I hadn’t seen since… summer 2005! All those years ago, Dawn had been scouting for some western talent to cast as extras in an SK2 advert. I seduced her with my teasing and pleading, and she in turn made sure that I was chosen (despite my casting pictures being some of the least attractive in history…). I recently saw the videos for the actual adverts and I have to say, the back of my head looks fantastic on screen – glad I wore all that make-up!

Our 2005 cast, minus Karen Mok and Stephanie Hsiao – Dawn is in the middle, with short hair and a stripy shirt.
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It was so great to catch up with Dawn – we have a lot in common and it makes me even more keen to move to Hong Kong so I can hang out with her more often. MTR Green is one of my favourite picture backgrounds!
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Cici and I then had lunch before hopping on a bus to Stanley. I finally, after all these years, have an Octopus card! On my very first trip to Hong Kong I asked Cici if I should get one, and because Cici is a lady of few words and occasional laziness, rather than line up for 20 minutes at the busy station where we were, she vaguely insinuated that it was a complicated and unnecessary affair. I maintained this belief for each of my subsequent visits, never presuming to burden ourselves with such a disagreeable task, or waste our precious time, and it was only on my last visit that I was enlightened… I saw a friend of a friend, in town for 2 nights only, brandishing her very own Octopus card, and enquired of her, with wide-eyed admiration, how she had managed to get hold of such a precious commodity…

Anyway… it took me all of 30 seconds to buy this baby yesterday.
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Cici and me on the bus, rejoicing in our Octopii:
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Stanley Beach felt like a bizarre combination of my hometowns Melbourne and Cahors – lots of Australian-style cafes and pubs, and French-style cute shops. Cici and I found our “mini-me” selves here…
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It’s a beautiful place, although nothing was remotely affordable to us, given our Asian salaries. We wanted to visit the “Correctional Facilities Museum” as it sounded suitably stark and entertaining, but it was closed… bank holiday, crap! Still, beautiful views. Yet another score for Hong Kong. I’m a woman of simple tastes I guess – give me steep mountains and hills, reaching into crystal-clear waters, and I’m sold.

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Mui Wo

As most people in Hong Kong had a half- or whole holiday this Tuesday, Cici planned a barbecue in Mui Wo on Lantau Island. So after meeting for lunch in Central, then wandering the streets looking for a decent AND affordable coffee (thanks Wagyu), we finally headed for the Pier to catch a ferry to the island just before 4pm.

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I know many vegetarian treats to bring to barbecues, courtesy of my four years in Australia. Unfortunately the mountain of veggies that I purchased weren’t really… ideal for a Hong Kong-style barbecue, where you spear slices or balls of meat and fish onto giant toasting forks. The idea is, everyone has their own fork and eats piece by piece, sitting round the fire and chatting. It’s really sociable and fun, but I was happy to let fellow vegetarian Christina take over the prepping, and to retreat to the beach with a gallon of Martini Rosso and ginger beer.
Bye guys, see you later…
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SHARKS!?
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Debbie thinks the water is too dirty to swim…
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By the time I came back, Jamela and Christina had constructed aluminium packages of veggies and we were ready to go.
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Night fell and Cher got cheeky…
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Several more people turned up, including a French guy from… Cahors! We both were suitably impressed but none of the Honky kids cared. At least we got to talk French whilst they all chattered away in Canto.

Of course despite all good intentions we ended up running in a frenetic panic to catch the last ferry from Mui Wo back to Hong Kong at 11:30. We made it with minutes to spare but running in my sandals has left my right tibia feeling like its stress fracture has spread the length from my ankle to my knee… I slammed ice on it as soon as I got home but I am really frustrated, as I have been resting it for over three months now (give or take a few sneaky runs in January before the diagnosis). I get that I cannot go running anymore, but not being able to dash for the bus or carry my suitcase upstairs without limping for days afterwards is really impractical.

love

Every time I come back to Hong Kong, the vague affection for this city which I carry around year in, year out, explodes into something bordering on obsessive love. Due to budgetary restrictions I hadn’t been here since my 27th birthday, nearly 2 years ago, and the light in my heart may never go out but it had dwindled somewhat. Now that I am back, especially after 9 months in Taiwan (my god, has it really been that long?), Hong Kong’s glory is all the more spectacular. Love! I even revel in the noise of the traffic and a/c units humming outside my window. The traffic in Hong Kong sounds different from anywhere else I have lived.

Of course, it helps that Hong Kong is synonymous with Supermates…

I was second-guessing my decision to move to Hong Kong after Taiwan, but I think it was mainly due to the fear of taking on a dreary office job in order to earn a living. I’m glad I get to stay on in Taiwan for a few more months, as the work I am doing brings me closer every day to finding what it is I want to do. Eleven years ago, my philosophy teacher (an otherwise hateful man, who made the compulsory 8 hours a week of philosophy lessons a chore…) presented us with a text on Existentialism by Kierkegaard which resonated ever so strongly in my rebellious teenaged heart. I always remember it in French, as that is the language in which I copied it out, word for word, in blanco onto my L’Etudiant diary, in order to memorise it with a passion which my teachers probably felt could have been diverted into more sanctified topics, especially the bit about “Et quel profit aurais-je de me bourrer à fond des systèmes des philosophes et de pouvoir, au besoin, les passer en revue, d’en pouvoir montrer les inconséquences dans chaque problème?”. However, for clarity’s sake, I will provide the most famous extract in English here (not in Tip-Ex):

What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find a purpose, to see what it really is that God wills that I shall do; the crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die.

Anyone who knows me knows of my loathing for religion, so we will quietly overlook the whole “God” thing, because it’s obviously just a symbol of something broader and difficult to put into words. I suppose it could be called “the Universe” maybe… Anyway, I digress. I feel that I am moving gently towards whatever it is that I am meant to be doing, towards finding a truth which is true for me. And now, amongst all that reflection, I am late, as I am meeting Cici at Central in 40min, exit F for FUN!

up to date

I have not been updating very assiduously, have I… Quick run-down of the past week:

On Sunday I walked the China Hash, which wasn’t much of a walk and more of a “push your way through jungle scrub up and down mountains” experience. It was fun but my knees did not like it. I did remember to ice them straight afterwards though, so the fall-out was not too bad.

Maria behind me looks shocked and horrified — when Relax appeared on the horizon to snap this picture, she thought he was some kind of investigator/agent. She’s lived on the Mainland too long!

On Monday Maria and Alberto left, and I bought my tickets to Hong Kong. Cici and I have been planning our Supermates break with enthusiasm! It’s been 7 months since we last saw each other, and despite talking online every single god-given day, nothing beats sitting together not talking at all.

Tuesday as planned I blasted my room and re-organized my office space. David (aka my new “boss”) is getting a MacBook Air for me to work on, which I have to say I’m pretty excited about. In the interim, I have been trying to restrain the French part of me that is obsessed with stationary and desk organisation…

Wednesday meant lunch with my beloved Catherine, and somehow after lunch, shoe shopping happened. Shoe shopping used to be an addiction of mine; I owned at least 60 pairs when I decided to sell everything a year ago. Since then I have purchased just one pair of Adidas sneakers in London and one pair of leather boots in Florence, which demonstrates the incredible restraint I have developed. However it was time for a pair of summer shoes that were suitable for the heat here and which would provide decent support for my poor knees.

I have been doing a little yoga every morning in order to stretch my hamstrings, which seem to tighten more and more every day. Other than that I am not really exercising though… still, I’m feeling happy overall. Spring in Taipei is like the perfect continental summer in Europe — plenty of sunshine and birdsong, warm breezes, gentle mornings and fun evenings. Once the summer gets here it will be like a furnace, if a furnace is ever damp and sweaty, so I am relishing these perfect days. There’s something about the air, the light, the smell of Taipei at this time of year that I absolutely love (as long as you aren’t anywhere near a stinky tofu stand or the drains of course…).

I leave you with a couple of pictures from the Taiwan tour last week. The quality of my pictures should be drastically improving now, as I asked Alberto to check my camera and turns out I had it stuck on a weird setting:

5:20 sunrise in Chiayi

Lions in Taroko Gorge