While I was struck with extreme bad luck during the beginning of the year due to a few models who had wasted my time, Boon Hui helped me when I was in need of someone to test playing with my new white backdrop. We had a “last minute” shoot and it helped me to test the limitation of my equipment to prepare me for an important shoot with Joy.
After the shoot with Joy, she gave me a good treat. I felt guilty for I was not someone who would appreciate good food and dining at an expensive restaurant was really a waste of money.
There was a volleyball game in NUS new town. Jingjie gave me and others a lift over at Harbourfront Centre after our lunch at MacDonald’s. After that, we went to Tampines and he was the driver who also sent me home. Anyway, Jingjie was the coordinator for the game and it was very kind of him to help to arrange with us even though he was very busy with work.
My younger brother arranged for a Mother’s Day dinner. He managed to get discount through an application and we got to enjoy expensive Indonesian food at low price at the new Tanjong Pagar Centre.
I went over to Marsiling twice to help to take care of Luckie who had his third slip disc problem. During the first stay, my elder brother helped me to fix the tablet he had passed to me much earlier – the WiFi was down after doing windows update. During the second trip, he tried to fix my trolley’s wheels but realised the ball-bearings were spoiled. Then, he found out the model number so that I could get new pieces online.
There was a dramatic change in my family as my elder brother and his wife moved to their new BTO flat at Marsiling, together with Luckie. From a badly clustered house to a house with only three people left, the sound of silence filled the atmosphere most of the time. There used to be a lot of unhappiness for everyone had very different lifestyle that we wanted to live in. The limited space had always been causing frustration and thus I could firmly testify against those rich hypocrites who were running the country akin to North Korea. I was probably too used to hearing complaint from my younger brother about how the couple forgot to switch off the toilet’s light and my mum who would bottom up every matter to grumble only in front of my younger brother and I.
With the reduction of conflicts, loneliness began taking over. I knew well even with the very limited help in finance in the past, my elder brother actually contributed in other ways. I never wanted to part with my elder brother but I knew it was inevitable. It was simply impossible for them to get a house within or near the CBD area – apart from having limited space for new flats, the price would be scary. Sooner or later, we had to move far away from the city.
I helped out a lot in packing up the remaining stuff to bring over to my brother’s new place. It took quite a number of trips to empty the room they used to stay in, even though my mum quickly turned the room almost as messy as before. It was not because she wanted to keep a memory of my elder brother by creating similar mess, but because she was simply a collector of everything. Somehow, everything could somehow turn useful one day for the poor, maybe no in near future.
Apart from the sadness from the moving out of my elder brother, Luckie’s absence in the house was a big blow to me. I was the one who used to sleep with him when he first joined my family. Since I worked from home, I was the one who had spent the most time with him. It was also because of him, I always hesitated to leave the house since he had fear in loneliness. I stopped my occasion afternoon jog to places like Marina Barrage and Henderson Waves mainly because of him.
The most dramatic thing happened soon after they moved out as Luckie got his first slip disc problem. His lower back caused his legs to become strengthless. After his operation, I went over to take care of him during weekdays since both my elder brother and sister-in-law had to work. Seeing Luckie in such sorry state hurt me a lot. Before he was fully recovered, he had a second slip disc that caused him greater pain than ever. Just as I thought Luckie would be out of my life, the couple spent another 10 grands to save him. I did my part by going over to take care of Luckie during weekdays.
The closest friend I had was as usual, Gilbert. He helped me in everything without expecting anything in return – not that I was able to help him much in anything. Apart from him and my volleyball friends, I hardly had many chances to meet up with old friends. I also made many new friends through photography even though it was back to business that not everyone would keep in touch with me after they had gotten what they wanted.
In the third quarter of the year, my relationship ended. She was the most intelligent girl I had ever being with but we had very different priorities in life. She was more into the YOLO lifestyle while I was still struggling with my own life to make ends meet. There were also some differences that we had always struggled with, such as I felt obligated to stay over at my elder brother’s place to look after Luckie but she was fed up for she knew I was unable to work over there without even a proper table. I always felt bad for my mum’s attitude towards her even though she had always been showing respect and offering helps. Unfortunately, it was a bad start after all and my mum was more inflexible than me. I was glad both of us had tried very hard after all. I blamed myself for I was unable to give her a better life – not that I was able to.
Cough caught up with me for months and I knew well I did not recover because of the food I had been eating – my mum loved spicy food and she would deny cooking them. As for my injuries, my ex-girlfriend helped a lot. After her mum brought me to a Chinese doctor, my back injury improved a lot because it did not ache very regularly. Since she had learned some massages on the acupuncture points, she also improved the conditions of my other injuries, such as my right shoulder. Towards the end of the end, I suffered from a new injury on my left shoulder after carrying the bulky and heavy camera equipment for too long – the nerve was pressed too much that I felt weakness on my left arm.
The tuition agency business dropped tremendously since both of my main coordinators were too busy with their lives. One of them had too much family issues to handle while another could buy a condominium just by giving tuition lessons instead. They were both not obligated to spend their time to help me in my business and thus I was more than happy that they still spent some time whenever possible to take up some assignments. Whereas for the rest of the coordinators, they were busy with their lives too.
For my photography services, I was still unable to make any breakthrough as there was a huge competition from photographers who undercutted the market while most enquiries were from clients with low budget. I knew the standard of my work and the market rates, and my strong principle insisted me not to lower down my value or further harm the photography market.
– My wrist rescuer
It had been long since I injured my right wrist due to an event shoot for JGC and the injury gave me problems during my Sunday volleyball games. I started by using my old wrist guard but it was bulky enough to prevent me from playing. Desmond lent me his wrist band and it helped a lot during the game play even though it was not as strong as mine. When I told him it was difficult to get the wrist band, he tried helping me to get one as well.
– Birthday came early
Gilbert asked me to go downstairs my house to pass me something. At first, I thought it was a souvenir from overseas since he had just returned from his holidays. After meeting him and receiving the small item, he told me it was because he was going overseas again the following week. It took me a few minutes to realise it was my birthday present.
The present was a piece of magnet with my photo on it. It was a brilliant gift, which I could do it for other friends in future. However, it also made me feel so guilty and helpless that I was not able to think of anything creative in return for him.
Thanks to Ahpa Saeyeoh for introducing me to her friends Dickson and William. Dickson has studied Chinese medication for more than three years while William is currently understudying him. Both of them have improved on my back’s condition.
My back problem had lasted for nearly 15 years. It was worsened during my NS days due to the excessive loads I had to carry regularly. I had gone for X-ray and MRI screening but the results were not as “bad” as what doctors expected for me to downgrade permanently. Despite getting temporary “excuse heavy load” medical certificate from the medical officers (MOs), I had to continue to carry heavy stuffs. Well, I was simply unlucky because I had a bastard superior called Captain James during that time who would threaten (indirectly) all the injured co-slaves to work. His moonlighting business – some aquarium shops – should be failed by now after being cursed by so many nice people.
I was in fact one of the fittest guys in my camp other than having the injuries, which nobody could see nor understand. I had to go for regular physiotherapy sessions and campmates would jokily call me “chao geng”, thinking it was just an excuse to skip “work”. Friends who know me well should know that I was a very determined and responsible person who would do everything well and not push work around. An example would be during the BMT’s SIT test, I actually fireman-carried a platoon-mate much bigger size than me over a distance all by myself. Therefore, during my NS days, I was being hurt both physically and mentally.
Anyway, the aching on my back was more terrible than anyone could imagine. For a few times, there were sharp pains when I was jogging – obviously the spine was connected to lower body. The aching happened very often that I had lie down every now and then. More than half of my days, the pains accompanied me faithfully. I simply had to sit down for five minutes without my back supported to trigger the aching for years.
After some examination, Dickson told me I had slipped disc, which was not easily to be detected by both X-ray and MRI. He used a big stick with around five or six split ends to whack my back hard for probably longer than 20 minutes that my face turned red. He was experienced enough to tell that the pain was bearable compared to the 15 years of my torment. However, my back was numbed from the whacking that I was unable to tell him the exact condition so that he could do more.
The sore on my back improved immediately, which stunned me totally. All these years, I always thought the western doctors were right that I could only train my muscle hard to support the injured spine. Most of the time, I thought my back muscle was injured as well. If only I had more faith that my back problem could be cured or improved, so that I could seek better Chinese physician for help earlier, my life would be so much better. The pain had slowed me down badly in my work.
My left thumb was sprained on last Saturday night. It was caused by receiving a ball using fingers on the volleyball court when I softened my fingers to place it a metre away for the setter. I did not trim my fingernails and had this phobia, which restricted my movements. It had been more than a year since I last sprained any part of my body as I had not played volleyball for very long. I hate it for causing pain whenever I trigger it. Even squeezing the toothpaste has been made difficult. It reminds me of the doctor warning my mum that losing the power on the thumb will cause disability to nearly 40% of the daily tasks. I am actually quite used to the after-sprained feeling since my back has been hurting similarly for the past ten years. The hurt is definitely not as severe as heartache though. Somehow, I have not forgotten about the hurt caused by my last ex-girlfriend more than two years ago. Every single lie, regardless of the seriousness, from any female friend just pours back the memories. “Please don’t treat me too nice.” I’m quite sensitive to the request from any female friend because it reminds me of my first relationship. It somehow makes girls guilty and the feeling is bad, which also makes them begin to admit their lies, whether big or small. Sometimes I wish I have not been too sharp, which has also been scaring female friends away. I always remember what Baoyu has told me more than a year ago – most girls do not think logically. When I begin to be too frank with my observation, it often draws a line between us. I’m not a smart person and thus I always do my best to make up for the shortcoming. However, I’m often powerless. Most of the time, I can only sit back and pray hard for them when they are in bad times. Whenever a sweet friend whom I have been treating sincerely distances away suddenly, it hurts.
My new pages for my tuition agency website were up though the contents were not fully ready. Meanwhile, I had difficulty filling up my stomach with the dinner my mum cooked for I had roti prata with Kachua a couple of hours ago. I managed to get the website’s url up in Wikipedia before I went to bed at seven plus. It took me quite some time to doze off.
David gave me a call at 1pm to deliver to me the bad news that the viewing for the office had to be postponed to the next day.
I tried to work on the new website for the new project with my gym friends but my mind was all about the tuition site to stop me from making any progress. Anyway, the thought of the tedious design and programming work frustrated me because I knew with my lack of experience, it would take months to deliver the work.
I went to the gym at 7pm with my stressed mind. Andrew was training under Dan and he looked worse than me. However, I did not display my frustration and instead, I showed everyone the opposite side of my mood. I started playing the Xbox 360 Kinect and the volleyball game got me tired soon. Eventually, when I moved too near the gym bench, my toe was cut badly by the sharp edge. I lost quite a big amount of blood and Bobby was quite worried. He wanted to go upstairs to get me the “yellow medical oil” but I went up myself instead since he had two clients coming at the same time – one came late and another was earlier.
Before 8pm, Andrew was very worried. His stressful face did not recover even after sweating out. He told me to call Letian and Junze. Both of them were already on their way and were pretty on time. We were lucky that Bobby was around during our meeting again. He commented that we were not moving after so many sessions of meeting. We decided to take actions and I told them of my concern of the website. Andrew suggested to engage his partner’s service. I was happy that the problem could be solved as the professional definitely had much more experience, manpower and existing coding to establish the website probably more than ten times faster than an amateur doing one-man show. The meeting was eventually interrupted and before we realised, it was over and we started playing the volleyball game on Xbox.
I spent the morning surfing, planning and blogging. I left for reservist straight without catching a wink. I met up Kang at the control station and he tempted me to get breakfast at a shop nearer to the bus interchange. I was expecting them to charge me an extra dollar for extra ingredient but I had to fork out two dollars and thirty cents, which I felt was cheated. Kang was quite worried that Terry would cause us to miss the base ferry and I assured him that we could even afford to miss one SBS bus to get there.
Kang made a move fast after checking out from the guard room and he managed to get into the squadron bus. I persuaded the NSF to squeeze in as well and there was only an additional place at the front, which Terry and I decided to give a miss. We took the base ferry instead and I was glad to meet Yutong. We had to walk a much longer distance to get into our headquarter.
While unwrapping the wooden chopsticks, I was injured by the sharp surface. I was not sure if any wood strap did get into my index finger but it hurt and irritated me for the entire day.
I started playing pool with Teng, and dart and Chinese chess with Terry. Finally, we moved to the table tennis table outside and I realised I had forgotten totally how to play the sport. After losing six sets straight to him, I got a hand of it and raced eight sets before losing another set. The final score was ten to seven. He gave up his bat to another guy and I won another two sets before calling for a break. I was drenched by my sweat but managed to doze off after some time.
I took a late lunch before playing table soccer with Terry and Yutong, and other NSmen. I dozed off a couple of times again to rest my back. Everyone was getting restless and we were extremely disappointed to be out-processed at 5pm sharp. We took Peter Chan’s car to Novena again. Terry was meeting his friend and thus I left without him.
It was already over 6pm when I reached home and thus I did not join my ex colleagues at Changi, considering that they were meeting at 5pm and it would take more than an hour for me to get there. I worked on my website instead and started dozing off.
After meeting up with Terry, we went to the hawker centre to get some food. I bought only a bowl of beancurd for eighty cents. Since I had slept much earlier than usual, I could keep myself more refreshed in the morning. I spent some time writing and planning for Smart Tuition Singapore. I tried the burger from the ninja van but it was awful. I missed the chicken burger from the Stagmont Camp’s ex Specialist Mess uncle.
After the interview, which I was told that I could be granted time off to leave earlier on Thursday for my birthday dinner, I could not hang on for the afternoon as I was deprived of sleep. In the late afternoon, Terry and I hitched a car out of the camp.
After having my dinner, I went to the gym to help out. Since it was getting late, the meeting with Andrew and my team was cancelled. It took an hour to hurt my skin on the finger as they were short of penknives and I had to use brute force to tear the wrapping plastic from the new equipments. I left earlier with Andrew for they had enough people there. I knew I had done my part for my friends despite I was already being frustrated by the lack of time due to the reservist.
I had lunch at the Tanjong Pagar food centre with my family. I had a bowl of fish soup.
The highlight of the day was the jog to Marina Barrage at 6pm. Due to the problems with my stomach and that I did not maintain a constant pace, I faced difficulties. For the start, I realised it was not a good idea to set off on the last Saturday before National’s Day. I knew there was rehearsal of the National Day parade and many people would crowd around at Marina Barrage to catch the fireworks.
This time round, I held on to my phone and started recording video from Shenton Way till Marina Barrage. However, the product was much shaken than I had expected. I was quite unlucky that traffic light was against me at the first junction to delay me badly. Soon, I was exhausted and my timing was disgusting in the end.
Marina Barrage was crowded. The management even projected shows at the ground level to a big screen and they blasted the sound. There was no quiet spot and I had to go till the far end where it was much warmer to take a rest. After being attacked by sand flies, I shifted to near the lift at where I used to camp at during my earliest few trips. Finally I lay down to close my eyes and rest. However, when I tried to check my watch for the time, it started to go haywire. The screen went blank and the alarm sounded to irritate me from my rest. It stopped after quite some time and when I tried to press the buttons, the same irritant came back.
It was not a good night to catch rehearsal’s fireworks for there was explosion for every ten to fifteen minutes that lasted probably around ten seconds each time. I was surrounded by Chinese from Shanghai.
It was one of the latest times I set off from Marina Barrage. I had to use the stopwatch from the phone’s function instead since the watch was down. I hated my timing. The jog seemed to have worsened my left foot’s condition.
My dinner was spaghetti cooked by my elder brother.