Year 2011 – Year of Living in the Mountain

Year 2011 was one of the worst years in my life. It was a year of isolation that I hardly met up with anyone. Most friends were busy with their own lives and work, and all the outing that some of my ex colleagues had promised to organise vanished with time. I was, in fact, too busy to meet up with old friends individually. One of the ex polytechnic class outing turned out to be disaster when all, except Wenchang, dropped out at the tick of the clock. The lack of communication with people offline made me a duller guy. There was no romance like the previous year, which marked another two years of single life for me. I was not really in a hurry to get a girlfriend since I was not financially stable yet. Sometimes I did turn lonely but work had kept me well occupied. I also knew well that my time was too tight, but on another note, a girl could actually spice up my life and make me push myself harder in my work, which could be a positive effect. It was all about fate after all. I was physically weakened for the minimal number workout sessions I had. I went back to ITE College West for volleyball for about twice and hardly did any jogging. The most tedious workout I did was when I went to Fitness First with Gilbert, but just for at most once per week, and I was mostly lazing about there. There were times when we skipped the outing for more than a month. All gym sessions were accompanied by big feast. I was very annoyed by numerous major incidents that happened in Singapore. The unfairness and deception caused by the greed of rich people were unbearable. There were plentiful of sad news such as public transportation prices were raised to make the rich people richer, while the trains and tracks were discovered to be unmaintained for ten years, only after major breakdown incidents with the service provider taking inhuman actions and responses. I realised I had to live with the great injustice in this society because there was nothing much I could do when I could not even fend for my own life. My family got into a major conflict once when things started to explode between my younger brother and my elder brother’s girlfriend after years of toleration. When everyone started to speak up, there were great improvements although many friends still felt sorry for the house owner and two brothers had to squeeze inside a bedroom so as to allow the elder brother to have a bedroom with his girlfriend who stayed overnight regularly in the same house. By then, my elder brother’s girlfriend had grown fonder of our dog and bought him more food and goodies than she bought for the rest of us, and thus my elder brother’s life got better. However, I found it a great insult when his girlfriend banned me from using her pillow whenever I went over to that bedroom, even though the dog was using it like nobody’s business every day. It reminded me of Bruce Lee’s movies that “Chinese and dogs are not allowed into the foreigners’ restaurant”, but I was worse than a dog. Things were still going well after all, in fact, it was much better. My mum’s super ultimate regular visits to the hospital and polyclinic for check-ups and follow-ups caused great problems as she expected companion. Each trip would waste two to four hours of time because of the inefficient system that required patients to wait for long. I hated the idea of my mum expecting us to foot the bill for her because it was totally unnecessary at the moment and that any excess money with her could be cheated off easily. The time wasted could help me to relax at home. I did not join my mum and younger brother for their overseas trips. Even though there was once when my mum’s friend’s husband had things on, I did not take up the free ticket. Apart from being thrifty, my work did not allow me to have any holiday. Work would only pile up. Finance was sustainable for me somehow although I only started earning my first cent from my tuition agency in February. However, I soon started to feel frustrated when the amount of effort and hard work I put in did not produce good results for me. I was in fact earning much lesser than I was working in ITE as a lecturer. The increasingly pressure on the expenses for both family and business caused frustration in me. Overall, after striving hard for a year, I was not rich but at least I did not starve. My elder brother was jobless most of the time, which added weights to my brain since I had to pay for most of the stuffs together with my younger brother, partly due to my mum’s constant nagging in front of me. I spent quite a sum of money on a double decker bed frame with a pull-out bed at the bottom to house my younger brother, my mum and I inside the small bedroom. It was due to my mum’s complaints of not able to get up from the mattress we initially placed on the floor easily and that she often knocked her head onto the old bed frame due to the height. Next was the changing of lighting in my house as to reduce electricity bill, which did not show results due to the increasing electricity cost. The old lighting had two tubes of round light-bulb each and the inner smaller light-bulb’s electricity consume alone was crazy enough. The third expensive item I had bought was a Fujifilm camera recommended by my elder brother due to his read-up of internet reviews during the IT show, which turned out to be a total waste of money. We lost trust in forum’s reviews. Anyway, I knew I should have spent more money to get a cheap DSLR camera instead, which I had wished for donkey years, even though my younger brother preferred a more compact one. Besides not able to catch up with friends, I was dealt deadly blows twice in this very lousy year. I was initially into planning with Tze Khit’s friends for a new business venture when I was already too tight with my tuition agency. I decided to drop out in the end and somehow, someone backstabbed me, which caused Andrew to confront me. As I thought things were fine, I realised I had lost a good friend when I was deleted away from his Facebook friends list. The lost of a friend, including the fact that I was being falsely accused, dwelled in my brain for months. I began the year in Mike’s office as a freeloader to work on my own business. I was too greedy as a perfectionist but I set my priority quite right to increase credibility and efficiency of coordinators by adding and editing useful features. I started from scratch without any knowledge of the business, whereby it required real life experience to further explore, and thus I had to make changes to the website’s features very often. Nobody could understand the amount of work I had put in when I was the sole person in charge of the researching, designing, coding, debugging, content writing, internet marketing and administrating etc. I had to choose between less prioritised tasks that would require more effort if I did not finish them earlier and important tasks that were more critical but could be more tedious. There were immediate tasks, such as to approve tutors’ profile, verifying of their documents and SEO, which was extremely time-consuming, leaving little energy for me to work on other tasks. There were also times, which I had to help the coordinators to even “debug” Gmail or bugless feature on my website. It could be a very good business many years ago but it was already too saturated and that the levy was actually very low. I learned many tricks regarding Search Engine Optimization from Mike. However, he got impatient with the progress of my work as a mentor. He expected more results from me even though he could not understand clearly the thousands of problems I was facing for operating a partially offline business without experience in business – both online and offline. Every month, he would also raise issues and talk to me in a very irritated tone. The pressure on me started driving me crazy and massacring my confidence when everything I did with my greatest effort seemed to be wrong. I became moody like a zombie with my existing struggles with everything and had phobia going to the office. There was a major communication breakdown somehow and I started to fear talking to him. I could not live up to his expectation even as a normal human as I became weary of everything, not knowing how to show him any slight of appreciation while I was almost breaking down mentally. In the end, he told me he had observed me for over ten months and that I had failed him, and we would revert back to good friends instead of mentor-student status. The thing that hurt me most was my misunderstanding that we had always trusted each other fully since the army days and that was why he had been guiding me along. I ended the last few months of the year with worsened sleepless nights tossing around my bed. I hated myself for not being capable enough to prove my worth so that many things would not have happened and refusing to become a person who could suck up to people. I could have borrowed some of his time from his girlfriend to give him a treat or get him a present even though I was suffering from fatigue all the while to even think of these. Year 2011 was yet another scar in my life.

Back to Volleyball after More Than a Year

I finally made my first step into Choa Chu Kang ITE’s sports hall on Thursday. Both Jingkun and Tze Khit asked me down coincidentally for volleyball. Frankly speaking, I was itching for it since long ago.

The hall was fantastic. It was gigantic and could hold up to twelve badminton or four volleyball games at a time. It was the first week of the ITE holidays and thus I had less chance to see my ex colleagues and students. I managed to meet Ah Lei who was currently working in the CCK’s gym.

I was glad that I was not totally wasted after missing the game for more than a year. At least, my services were perfect and could somehow pose some threats to the opponents at the same time. I probably played calmer than usual and that covered up my lost skill. I knew I could do so much better in other areas while stamina posed a major issue as well.

If it was not for Tze Khit, travelling would be a major problem for me. We met up at the Tanjong Pagar market for dinner before we went down in his gym’s van. Along the way, he persuaded me to work for him permanently for his new web venture. He trusted me in my professional in web building. He also highlighted to me on my own business.

To me, it was useless to work for others and earning peanuts when I was a workaholic who would sink in totally. I would rather continue to push my tuition agency to a greater height while enjoying the freedom. Even though my business was not doing well at the moment, it had great room for improvement – I was very down-lucked in my online marketing progress. When Tze Khit pointed out that the time I had spent was too long, I could only sigh that I was handling too many things alone that I could not focus. If I had the time to treat my business as a sideline so that I could find a job, I would rather work on some blogs to earn through AdSense.

That night, thoughts went through my mind. For all I knew, I needed to expedite on the progress of the web development.

Bitch, Bitches

[Wednesday, 24 November, 2010]

I finished up a page about Stress Management for Smart Tuition and went to sleep as early as right after 2am.

I woke up before 6am because of Lucky moving around. I was very scared that he wanted to pee or even do his big business that I opened the door a few times for him. In the end, I switched off the air-conditioner and went back to sleep with the door opened so that he could go outside any time.

I woke up after 9am eventually caused by the renovation noise of the unit above. The disgusting bitch decided to join in the fun of the HDB home improvement after all my surrounding units had completed ours.

The renovation was actually planned well enough that the work would start for one unit on three storeys (vertical) each time for two weeks. In the mid of the two weeks, the next three units (horizontal) beside them would proceed. Upon completion of the first three units, the next three units below would have their turns.

I did not expect the terrible noise and air pollution would come back a month after everything was cleared up. I started cursing her when I recalled how much time I had spent cleaning the kitchen’s windows and frames right after our renovation, because the dust and dirt had their best hideout in between the windows and frames; unless I could remove the entire windows from the frame to clean them, nothing much could be done to clean them.

I was extremely disgusted and disappointed at the management of the project for allowing such incident to happen. The noise and dust had badly affected my family and I. I had to change my plan to go to the gym earlier to do work and train up before the meeting in the late evening. I had to stay at home to bear with the noise with all the windows closed, because I could not leave Lucky inside the kitchen anymore like usual when everyone was out. My younger brother went down to the third storey to escape from the shit soon since he had to study for his exams.

I was very fed up and the nasty network connection worsened my mood. I replaced the old router my elder brother took from his girlfriend with our original tiny one, and the connection was much faster and I needed not refresh the pages multiple times in order to get some images loaded.

In the early afternoon, nobody was at home except me. Lucky surprised me by going into the bedroom alone and slept on my bed. I went in a few times to check on him and he followed me out like normal but he went in again. I was not sure why he was so “emo”. He was never like this even if my elder brother was not home and I suspected it was due to the drilling noises caused by the bitch. Anyway, during my house’s renovation, I stayed inside the bedroom almost the entire day with Lucky, and I suspected it was partly due to this experience that he thought he should stay inside.

In the mid afternoon, my mum returned home with a neighbour who stayed next block. My house was the “show flat” again and I was quite sick of it. Moreover, this auntie asked me to carry Lucky when I was trying hard to rush my work. I got so disgusted for I could not do my work anymore.

In the evening, I tried my luck in Facebook to look for people to go to the movie with me for the next day. Luck was not with me but it was a really good try for I did not expect to get a response that I did not have for many years. Eventually I had to leave my house for the meeting at the gym. I tried to do my work-out but I only got to complete one station before the meeting started.

We were stuck at the same issue until Andrew thought of an alternative. Since it was not foolproof, I still could not see a confirmed success.

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First Official Meeting with Andrew

[Wednesday, 27 October, 2010]

I was working on the tuition website until my mum returned from work and we started packing and cleaning up the house. While I was trying hard to fix back the doors of the compartment under the stoves, my elder brother was woke up by the noise. I had actually fixed it after much struggles but my mum insisted that the wool separator in between the two levels was placed in the wrong direction by my brothers earlier. Since it was too tight to be removed, we had to leave it for after daylight.

I took my shower after that and realised it was already over 5am. I had my breakfast – bread with milo. After blogging, I tried to continue with my website but gave up at 8am when I was totally exhausted by the cleaning up of my house earlier.

I woke up before noon but dozed off again. I halted the work on my website and went to the gym in the evening. While waiting for Letian, I started doing my workout after missing it for a week. Letian dropped us an SMS that he was still feeling unwell and thus Andrew and I began the business discussion without him. Daoxiong was around and I was pissed off when he told me that their competitor had used the PT.com.sg’s website contents, which was plagiarism.

After going home, I continued working on my website.

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A Clearer Picture of Andrew’s Ideas

[Saturday, 23 October, 2010]

I started the day with my website and blogging. Sleeping time was after 7am.

I woke up at around 3pm to continue with my work. Bobby rang me up in the late afternoon and caught me surprised for he was only a few minutes away from my house. I quickly emptied my elder brother’s army backpack and took it down with me. Bobby and Andrew were waiting at the lift lobby. We chatted for a while and after Bobby left, Andrew further told me about his idea for the business. I was quite impressed with his ideas.

While continuing with my website, I dozed off for a while.

My elder brother, mum and Lucky went down to the third storey with me together. I took my shower while my mum washed the clothes. After that, my elder brother started showering for Lucky.

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First Day of Renovation

[Friday, 15 October, 2010]

I was on Facebook to get ready my marketing work before I tried to sleep at 5.30am. Soon, my elder brother opened the door for Lucky to come in as he was leaving for reservist. I could not doze off until the workers came over to start the renovation.

It was the first day of my eleven days terror even though the thundering sounds had been terrorizing my family since weeks ago when it was our neighbour’s turn. As the workers wanted to break the tiles inside the bathroom and toilet, and it would create lots of dust, they set up walls along a passage such that the bedrooms’ doors would be blocked. My younger brother set off much earlier for school and thus I was the only one left to take care of Lucky since my mum was not totally ready. Fearing the amount of dust that would damage Lucky’s health, I brought him to the gym.

I continued updating Tze Khit’s website at the gym. He bought lunch for me since I could not join him for I had to take care of Lucky. I dozed off for seconds occasionally as I was too tired and yet had to keep an eye on Lucky in case he ran around to bark at gym’s users or even pee around.

Bobby came into the gym early and thus I was more entertained. In the mid afternoon, my elder brother came over to join me and Lucky as he came home earlier from the camp. Tze Khit had two pretty trainees. Later, Andrew came over and he agreed to join Letian and I in the business idea he had given.

After reaching home in the late afternoon, I dozed off and was woke up by my mum. She passed me her mobile phone for a survey regarding MediaCorp’s television channels. That lady started to piss me off with the endless questions I thought were dumb. My brain was almost numb at the moment but I felt holy for being nice.

Lucky came over and nipped me non-stop. Suddenly, my mum told me it was near 10pm and Lucky was still not fed. I was stunned and jumped up of the mattress, and went over to question my elder brother who was playing game. I quickly started preparing his food.

After Lucky finished his late dinner, the three of us took Lucky to Maxwell Food Centre where we had our late dinner as well. It was creepy to eat with tiny cockroaches crawling around. After so many years, I was surprised that nobody had reported the disgusting pest infestation to NEA or any organisation to clear it up.

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Lucky Chewed on My Spectacle

[Thursday, 14 October, 2010]

I spent the morning blogging on other blogs even though I knew I was lagging behind on my personal blog. I had a chat with Yaozhong before sunrise. I took some cereal and slept after 6am.

I was pissed off with the neighbour staying right above my flat for I had observed slamming of the bedroom door daily as early as 6am since long ago and finally confirmed it. It was definitely done deliberately for the banging noise was very loud. It happened almost every time when I stayed up till after 6am. When Lucky first came, the sudden sharp and loud noise would wake him up to start barking. I was not sure if the lonely bitch was the culprit or she could have rented a room, but there was a high chance that she was the sick fellow.

I woke up before noon and was pissed off with Lucky for chewing on my spectacle. One of the ends was torn and only the sharp metal was left. I threw him out of my bedroom and ignored him when he was crying in the living room alone.

I woke up again at 3pm and went to the gym after having my lunch. The main purpose of the early trip was to help Tze Khit with his website again. Bobby bought chay kuay teow for me in the evening. I did my workout after that and Letian came over to discuss with me over the business plan suggested by Andrew. Bobby was sharp and realistic and warned us about the little benefit we could get. I had my own doubts too because Letian was simply too similar to me and we were too soft to be good sales-persons.

I tried to show my brothers my spectacle at the house’s door and it broke immediately when I tried to remove it from my ears.

I rested for a while before going down to walk Lucky with my elder brother.

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Dinner with Gym Kakis

[Friday, 8 October, 2010]

I did my website until after 3am. Lucky refused to sleep again and I had to stop him from going towards my mum. The last time I checked the clock was at 4.30am.

I woke up at 2pm and Lucky was waiting at the bedroom’s door. I did not sense anything wrong until I went to the toilet to see that the entrance was blocked with a piece of hard board. After my mum returned, she told me Lucky was terrorizing my house again and thus she kept Lucky inside the toilet. Then, we realised Lucky had somehow made his way out.

My younger brother had done testing for my website and found a spelling error and a bug. I spent quite some time going through the web form but could not see anything wrong.

I went to the gym in the evening. Junze, Letian and Andrew were around. Andrew had a business idea for us and we found it interesting. I went home to fetch my wallet since they were going to Maxwell Food Centre for dinner together and that my mum did not buy dinner.

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