The Seven Friendships

They were friends from the first look
the first day of work and friends
they would remain. Not lovers.
Never, though they thought of things
to whisper about all day.
At night, when they sat at home
hunting for something to say
to their actual lovers,
they longed to be back at work,
where the home life they described
to each other seemed larger,
funnier, more colorful.

They were playful as gods and,
at the same time, serious.
Once, in a car, on the way
to a conference, they worked out
the seven possible forms
of friendship between people
who aren’t related by blood.

First: the fortunate friendship
of two who feel equally
attached but not attracted
to each other. No desire.
Instead, equilibrium,
a reliable membrane,
keeps them wholly separate
while holding them together.

You can always tell these two
in the kitchen: they can share
a cutting board — two different
sharp knives chopping two different
vegetables, and no one gets
in anyone else’s way.

Second: the friendship founded
on suppressed desire. All
the accessorizing takes
the place of real nakedness.
The servant’s invocations
to his master; the master’s
adulation of the slave.
Michael Jackson / Liz Taylor —
yes — Regis and Kathie Lee.

Letter writers are the third,
their correspondence floating
safely above and beyond
their problematic bodies
like a vial of scented oil.
They use each other without
apology — an excuse
to shape the simplest moment
into something memorable
ending with “Write soon, write back,”
that frank plea for affection.

Then there is the electric
communion that’s awakened
between two people vastly
different in age, like the
dowager one of them knew
who’d had to wait ’til she reached
ninety to meet a young child
she recognized as herself,
the adventuress she’d been.
At long last, the right playmate!

Fifth: the fireproof friendship
that has survived desire.
This includes all the ex-wives
and ex-husbands whose shared grief
unites them as love could not.
They drift back to each other,
grateful for a cup of tea,
for someone who remembers
that their first dentist in Troy
collected brass hose nozzles.

Next, a love of argument —
not bickering or nagging,
but the brainy brakes-without-
pads kind of arguing, no
attachment to conclusions,
no transparent right and wrong,
just the delirious pleasure
of competing for airspace
with someone you trust never
to take you personally.

And the seventh form? Friendship
based on the exchange of gifts,
preferably ridiculous.
Someone would get the idea
to buy odd salt and pepper
shakers, and once he’d purchased
the first set, a whole history
of silliness could begin.

That was when they stopped counting
and pulled off the interstate
on the way to the conference.
They found a small antique store,
Junkian Analysis —
really! — and in the windows
pairs of perfectly ugly
salt and pepper shakers shaped
like airplanes and bowling balls,
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
They liked the ceramic clams,
the Taj Mahal in Bakelite;
they loved the milkglass cabbage,
the jaguars, the shooting stars,
the stainless state of Vermont
side by side with New Hampshire.

A lovely poem in an equally lovely collection by Erica Funkhouser I found in a used book store in San Diego.
How nice to think of you and another suspended in equilibrium, at once together and apart by a membrane. Like larvae in an egg sac, snug and with nowhere to go. It reminds me of Katherine Mansfield’s

We might be fifty, we might be five,
So snug, so compact, so wise are we!
Under the kitchen-table leg
My knee is pressing against his knee.

We started packing for our annual trip back today. Z is an excellent packer, loads of plates and bowls were tucked away into spaces I did not know existed. We usually try to concentrate on bringing back ceramics/glass since the rest can be shipped home with negligible damage. The house is a mess, and despite that I have asked Zh to come over on saturday to play gostop with me since I have huge withdrawal symptoms ever since Hr left. It was very nice to pick up where we left off (in 2015!!!) and to think that we might be back in Singapore at the same time for several years. Especially since a certain someone has informed me of tentative plans to move to Sardegna soon after we return to Singapore. What is that about even?! It’s almost as if she can’t bear to exist in the same country as me. How rude.

Z is reluctant to ever move again once we move back :P We will see how that goes. He says if I insist on moving away again he will sell all of my stuff and my painstakingly collected plates. We all know how successful he has been at getting his way in the past, so I’m not exactly worried about that.

Apparently I might make a return trip (alone) later this year to check on the renovations and he just realized that he will a) starve and b) have no one to bug. I haven’t decided if it’s nice to have someone depend on you for stuff. One the one hand it is nice to be needed/appreciated but on the other it’s kind of a pain to have to keep thinking ahead and preparing for meals. When I am left to my own devices and alone I’d usually resort to takeout :P Or reheating some junk in the freezer.

We got a free hunk of raclette on Sunday and that made me really happy. Granted, it’s American raclette but still. Free raclette!

I would love to visit an antique store called Junkian Analysis! So cute. Z has similarly corny names for all kinds of things – his dream Indian restaurant would be called Second to Naan, and his dream shellfish restaurant would be called Pot de Clam.

Is it weird to have a kid just so you’d have a third person to play Go Stop or other board games with? I think the returns are too low, it would take 14-15 years before that kid is old enough to understand the board games that we play (I had to check the age ratings of our board games once) and it would probably take less than a year for me to resent that kid for taking up too much of my time/attention/sleep. H recently posted an article on maternal regret and it seems highly worth a read, especially for all those moronic cloistered christian women in Singapore who keep pestering me about having kids or who claim that I will change my mind.

Anniversary 2017

Got up in the middle of the night (6:30am?) and couldn’t get back to sleep for awhile, so we decided to skip the Hilary Hahn concert today :P in favour of staying in. Sorry Hilary, I guess sleepiness and laziness won out over you in the end. We have seen her before at the BBC proms playing the Beethoven violin concerto but because the symphony doesn’t seem to have processed my campus club membership yet ($30 for all-you-can-hear) it was also a bit difficult to get tickets. I didn’t want to make the trip downtown only to find that they had no tickets left :S

It was a fantastic decision – I got up at 12-ish and made us an English fry-up

with scored sausages and all (no black pudding). We didn’t have English muffins on hand so substituted with bagel halves smeared with raspberry compote from Dahlia Bakery.

I gave Z his present last night – a really vintage compass/sundial that I got from Pangaea in Nashville, TN

(which he already knew was coming) and a bottle of artisanal olive mix (which he didn’t know was coming). I had asked him to drop me off at Paper Source in UVillage ytd (believable, but not the true destination), from which it was a short walk to Pasta & Co., where I was first intending to get the olives. Some pricy Italian ones since he only buys cheap Greek varieties for himself. Pasta & Co. was closed! So I ended up having to go back to our regular QFC to find the best olives on their shelves, all the while stealthily avoiding him because I had sent him to get groceries while I was at Paper Source :P

This morning he gave me a really cool anniversary card:

that he made by cricutting the swans out, placing them on the white linen paper, lighting a candle and snuffing it, placing it near the paper+swan cut out and then covering the entire setup with a bowl. The wax vapor would then condense on the uncovered parts of the paper, making those parts hydrophobic.

Adding the yamabudo ink at the end was a nice touch, although it made the swans look rather more like flamingoes. Probably we should do more research as to the kind of paper to use that doesn’t bleed; the end result was rather unintentionally tie-dye-y:

He also gave me my presents (which I picked out :P) – a set of Sarasa milk colored pens (kind of like chalkboard ink) and also sent me on a washi tape hunt through the house

on the picture frame leading to the loft

in the bathroom

on the shopping shelf

on the ntuc water bottle

on the mechanical wave toy

underneath zassou

next to the crate & barrel fox

next to the pebble tower

on top of my muji humidifier

and on top of the chesapeake bay candle

There were 14 tapes in total and each one of them has really pretty watercolor designs on them and is 21m long!! About $1 each on Amazon, which is pretty worth it. I think the watercolor designs are much prettier than those in Paper Source and definitely more so than those in Michael’s etc. Then again, washi started in Japan and has had a much longer history in Asia than over here. Not to mention stationery in general is 100x more advanced in Eastern Asia than here, in terms of compactness, design, color, and efficacy. I remember being quite horrified the first time I went to the Cornell Store – the staplers are holepunchers are ginormous! Super heavy and super non-portable and you need a lot of muscle to use these tools, when their functions are really singular and can be easily outsourced to much smaller implements that are easier to use and to bring around. Case in point: I have been lending my classmates my stapler every time homework is due or after an in-class test ever since college started whereas in Singapore nearly everyone has one of their own in their pencil case from elementary school.

Doing the tape hunt made me realize how colorful our place is :P He could find objects to match every single tape to and I walked right past a lot of them without noticing them.

Watched two episodes of We Got Married (Jjongah) over lunch and then had our defrosted eclairs from TJ’s:

Trader Joe’s really has The Right Idea when it comes to dessert! Look at that shiny chocolate fondant! They should roll out a coffee eclair; I would be overjoyed. I believe it was something like $2.99 for a box of four. Which is ridiculous. I am never making eclairs again. The only problem is it takes like an hour to defrost at room temperature, and in our house the room temperature is quite a bit lower than the room temperature I imagine they think our house is at :P and it looks so delicious and beckoning more often than not we end up eating it while the vanilla custard is still partially frozen because we are piggy :S I think two hours is a more accurate recommendation for defrost time.

The Professor’s Beloved Equation

This was so beautiful! It couldn’t have been done anywhere else but Japan. The premise is that this math professor has Alzheimer’s, or at least a special form of it, such that his memory is only 80 minutes long. In the movie his memory was shown to have reset every day at the least, so every morning when his housekeeper arrives, the following conversation takes place:

“What’s your shoe size?”
“24 centimetres.”
“My, what a noble number… It’s the factorial of 4.”
“What is a factorial?”
“If you multiply all the whole numbers from 1 to 4, you get 24.”
“What’s your telephone number?”
“Did you say 5,761,445? Why, that’s wonderful. That’s equivalent to the prime numbers up to one billion. In any event, come in.”

And then every day she came in after that, the same thing would repeat.

“What’s your shoe size?”
“24. The factorial of 4!”
“That’s wonderful. What a noble number…”

He meets her afresh every day, and while she goes about her daily chores he disrupts infuses her housekeeping experience with a good dose of math.

On the day one of the professor’s papers got accepted for publication in a journal:

“Do you often submit your papers to magazines?”
“Right.. I sent my proof to the Journal of Mathematics, Vol. 37 today. That’s good. ”
“Oh, no! I should’ve sent it express. Only first place takes a cash prize.”
“No, there’s no need to send it express. It’s important to arrive at the truth before anyone else, but it’s more important that the proof be beautiful. ”
“Are there such things as beautiful or ugly proofs?”
“Of course. In a truly correct proof, air-tight and compelling reasoning coexists without contradiction, with supple logic. Just as no one can prove why stars are beautiful, it’s difficult to express the beauty of mathematics.” He paused for a beat.
“What’s your birthday?”
“February 20th.”
“What a charming number!” The professor takes off his watch.
“220… Take a look at this. Back in college, I won the President’s award for my paper on Transcendental Number Theory.”
“Ah.. what a great honor..” the housekeeper tried to be relevant.
“No, that doesn’t matter. Can you read the number?”
“President’s Award No. 284. Does that mean you’re the 284th person to receive the honor?”
“I suppose. The question is 284 and 220. This is no time to be washing dishes. Come with me, quick!”

They walk over to the blackboard. The professor writes 220 and 284 on two ends.
“What do you think?”
“Well, I.. Both have 3 digits… How can I phrase this? At the meat counter at the supermarket, if there are two packets of ground beef, one 220g and one 284g, they seem the same to me. One quick glance, and they look similar. They’re both in the 200 range, and all the digits are even…”

“That’s a keen insight. Intuition is important. Grasp the numbers intuitively from your heart. Do you know what a divisor is?”
“Yes, I think so, I remember studying them.”
“Let’s write out all the divisors for 220 and 284, excepting themselves.”
220: 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 20, 22, 44, 55, 110
284: 1, 2, 4, 71, 142,
“You can calculate all those divisors in your head?”
“I’m just using the same intuition you did. Onto the next step.”
1 + 2 + 4 + 5 + 10 + 11 + 22 + 44 + 55 + 110 = 284
1 + 2 + 4 + 71 + 142 = 220
“Will you behold, this beautiful chain of numbers. Add all the divisors for 284, and you get 220. Add all the divisors for 220, and you get 284. They’re amicable numbers.”
“Amicable numbers?”
“Mm. Such pairs are very rare. Even Fermat and Descartes only discovered one pair each. They’re numbers bound to each other by God’s design.”
“God’s design…”
“Mm. Isn’t it beautiful? Your birthday and the number engraved on my wristwatch are so perfectly intertwined.”

He gave everyone in his acquaintance names, mathematical names that represented their characteristics. To the housekeeper’s son, he gave the name “Root” (of course, pronounced “Root-oh” in Japanese)

“I can tell you’ve a wise heart in here. All right, you’re a Root. You accept any number that comes your way, rejecting none. A truly generous symbol, Root.”

Root starts coming by the house everyday since the Professor cannot stand the idea of Root waiting at home alone for his mother while his mother prepares dinner for a complete stranger. After being thoroughly schooled in the beauty of numbers by the professor, Root goes on to become a math teacher, and teaches his students about the professor’s lifelong equation:

“Pi is the circle ratio, right? “i” is the square root of -1 and an imaginary number. Here we have pi, a number that continues to the ends of the universe, and the imaginary number “i” which never shows itself. What’s tricky, is “e”. “e” is also called the “Napier number,” after John Napier, the British mathematician. The Napier number is one of the constants so critical to math. For now, I’ll just tell you the conclusion. If you calculate this “e”, its value is 2.7182818284…. This is just like pi. It goes on and on and on forever. It’s an irrational number. From an infinite universe, pi drifts down to “e”, and shakes hands with the bashful “i”. They come together, and hold their breaths… none of them are connected. But, if a single human adds just one thing… the world is transformed.
The contradiction is resolved. Zero. In other words, the realm of nothingness embraces them.

Today, we celebrate this equation. When a single human added just one thing to my contradictory and irrational life.

Everyday Eclipses

LZ hid a honeydew in my closet today. It’s a new game we play. The first time was a coupla weeks back. We were out antiquing in Snohomish and stopped by a grocery store to pick up some random things. I could smell the honeydew display 10 feet away – all ripe and saccharine and we went and lightly thumped some (apparently the Asian way to tell if they’re ripe? That’s what my dad did to watermelons anyway, not hard enough to bruise anything, mind you) and decided to take one home. He unloaded the groceries and I didn’t see where he kept the honeydew but I kept smelling this persistent honeydew whiff in the dining room whenever I walked past the bookcase, and when I looked, there it was sitting right on top with his granola and the cake stand and the calendar. (Our apartment is tiny, bookcases are multipurpose and not necessarily in a den or library. Nor do they necessarily hold books. They are in the dining room.) We cut it open and it was fabulously sweet.

So today we picked up another one at Safeway (we checked the ones at QFC, which were old, hard, and not fragrant or ripe at all) and when we got back he hid the honeydew in my closet behind the vases. I almost missed it! But when I closed the closet door after my bath my rather hound-like nose caught the scent of something fruity and I opened the door again and stared – there it was hiding behind all the vases! (Again, the house is tiny, closets do not necessarily hold only clothes. But neither do they hold produce) Now my clothes are all fruity and melony smelling.

NB: We seached on Youtube how to tell if a honeydew was ripe before cutting it open and found a marginally less old wife’s tale-y method by an american guy who said when you rub its skin with a damp thumb it should create this squeaking sound. Which we promptly tried and ours did! But it required some effort before we mastered the right squeaking technique. I’m not sure I totally believe this but it was so incredible I thought I’d write it here in case I forgot.
So I finally started reading the thin volume of Roger Mcgough poetry ‘Everyday Eclipses’ we bought from a second hand bookstore in Camden while on our honeymoon. We also bought 3 Beatrix Potters and Quentin Blake’s Snuff from the same shop. (I didn’t know Quentin Blake illustrated his own stories) but I suppose you can tell from his illustrations he is plenty quirky and imaginative enough to come up with enough plots to fill a library.

I do have Mcgough’s Collected Poems (in fact we have two, because I gave one to Ze before we even started dating), and am not quite sure how comprehensive of an anthology that is, so I just bought this one. It wasn’t expensive anyway, something like £6.

Here are four of Mcgough’s…. delusional poems – meetings with famous artistes and his tremendous impact on their lives.

One with Jimi Hendrix:

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The one in which he claims full credit for the lyrics in ‘Hey Jude’

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The one in which he clairvoyantly predicts Bob Dylan’s career path..a posteriori

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And finally, his indispensable influence on Oasis.

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6th Anniversary

I said a year ago that I would like to record what we gave to each other on our anniversaries here so that when I forgot (which I surely would), I would have some diary entry to look back on. It’s impressive how quickly we are forgetting things these days.

The start of the day for me – got up early (i.e. 10:20am? normal wake up time is 11ish for me) to prepare this tuna melt with omelette and buttered, sugared toast for our lunch. It was a school day so gone are the days of all day revelry on our anniversary. Our current routine is where he fixes his own lunch while I’m at school and I fix my lunch when I get back while nibbling on random things in class so my stomach doesn’t growl too obviously. So tuna melts are special occasions hahaha. Well, this one anyway, since I bothered toasting the bread with butter and sugar, and made a thin flappy omelette to sandwich between the bread, so thin you can’t see it in the picture. The soggy bits at the side are our left over beef brisket poutine from Vittles.

stacked boxes of presents! These are from him. Only the bottom two boxes are presents, one containing a necklace which I intend to return/exchange for another one at Fireworks. It’s got a spinning pendant that when you spin fast enough says the words “I love you”. We saw a lot of these spinning type contraptions at the Eye museum in Amsterdam where each side of the disk only has a partial picture and when you spin it really fast you get to see the entire thing.

It’s pretty cool as a concept but I’m not sure it works as jewellery. The white box is a box of Fran’s salted caramels and truffles, which I guilted him into buying for me :D The top box is the langues de chat box from Betty’s which currently contains some of the Neuhaus Astrid truffles I brought back from Bruges and am slowly working through. I love how pastel they all look together.

Flowers from trader joes (not the valentines flowers, just flowers bought randomly when we were there after getting the Fearless Flyer). Trader Joe’s flyers are so old school and marketty and just make you feel like buying all of their rustic products. When we went that day after having lunch at Luc (with the crabby server) we emerged with shampoo (we like TJ’s tea tree oil line of products), a frozen cheese and onion tart, frozen macarons (which are not bad, btw), tomatoes, triple cream brie, wine, a bunch of other things, and these flowers, despite having had no plans to go to TJ’s before we left the house. In general I think TJ’s flowers are not the freshest and you’d be better off getting ‘em somewhere else. Various parts of the bouquet die at varying times, so it makes things kinda difficult for you, having to decide to throw bits of it away first.

These are the paper flowers we made at the west elm/paper source paper flower workshop a few days before vday that I dragged liangze to. we had a lovely time! He was very wary about being the only guy. However, in the end, 180+ people RSVPed to the facebook event and I showed him tt other guys had RSVP-ed so that he’d go with me. And of course when we went he was the only guy there. But we had a smashing time and got a folding bone from the event. They also provided free mini trophy cupcakes and bottles of water! The whole event felt so posh housewife-y, for women who have a smidge of time after getting their nails done to spend two hours folding a paper flower.

They made us glue down each layer with regular glue sticks, which were not very sturdy at all. I got home, painted the heads of two tacks yellow with nail polish, then shoved them right into our ikea shelf with my bare hands. Ikea wood is really soft.

Here’s the date marked out on the pretty succulent calendar I got from the Regional Assembly of Text in Vancouver. They have really nicely designed cards, calendars, random print materials, as well as a letter writing club that meets every week! I wish I lived in Vancouver.

And the date marked out with a felt heart on the pusheen calendar I got for christmas. The felt heart magnet was from a little home decor shop in Bruges (that I believe was actually called home decor). I didn’t know Pusheen had a birthday. Then again, I suppose she was inspired by a real cat!

The balsa sloth also from Fireworks that was the actual anniversary gift. I got him a silver tip badger shaving brush since he’s recently got into the DE razor shaving (cheaper in the long run because of the cheap blades – 15c a piece and you can change your blade weekly), as well as a wooden box to hold his shave soap. We’ve been doing a lot of research on shaving recently after I found out how expensive gillette blades are and how much the average guy spends in his lifetime on razor blades. I suppose the equivalent for women are sanitary pads, but you can’t exactly cheap out on pads :S At least, I wouldn’t want to. He gets a pretty close shave with his DE razor (also known as the safety razor) but it takes a little practice. He let me foam his shaving soap with his new badger brush and it was really fun! All these manly shaving products make our bathroom seem very hipster when actually the only occupants of this apartment are nerds who in general couldn’t care less about their appearance.

The tiny little pot of flowers he got me from QFC and put in a trophy cupcake box – that’s how tiny this little pot of flowers are – as tiny as a cupcake! He later put them in this lovely enamel espresso mug that we bought in gloucester and the pops of red match each other so well it became a really fancy present from a pretty ordinary looking one :P I’m pretty proud of how far he’s come design-sense wise :P In the bg is a lovely furoshiki tissue box holder we folded/tied using the furoshiki book hr got us as a wedding present! I was just wondering how to make a very ugly kleenex box look like it belongs on our table of non-ugly things and thought surely there must be a way to fold a furoshiki over it? And we looked in the book and there it was! I have collected a ton of cloth napkins and kitchen towels and furoshiki napkins so that was an easy fix.

The weird english card I got for him. When you pull the tab at the bottom…

The cutest little sailboats pop up! Purchased from Paper Hammer at Pike Place. The English is a little weird though, and the only place on the card which has space for a message is the back.

Later that night we had a perfectly lovely dinner at Sushi Kashiba, which is just opposite Watson Kennedy! And we scored free parking at Pike Place! The reservation was at 6.45 and the parking spot was free from 6.30. Or something incredibly lucky like that. People who live in less cut-throat cities probably won’t get it but we were psyched to get free parking hahah. Like you finally understand how awesome that square in the corner of monopoly is. Tbh parking in Seattle isn’t THAT expensive (compared to say Sydney) but you need to know where to go and from what time street parking is free.

Here are some of the highlights – the full review (if you can call it that from someone who doesn’t eat raw fish :P) will be up on the food blog of course. I ordered the Rainier set, which is all cooked except for the two pieces of chef’s choice nigiri (donated to LZ).

The salad was amazing! In some sort of dashi/sesame dressing, it had dungeness crab, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, some forgettable but slightly peppery greens, and the freshest, briniest ikura bursting in your mouth! I loved the combination. It reminded me a lot of the crab salad we had at Quod. Wasn’t a big fan of the bamboo shoots, so I donated those to LZ too.

I adored the chawanmushi. It had dungeness crab and white fish in it. Probably one of the cheaper things on the menu at $11 but I could just eat cups and cups of this without anything else and be perfectly happy. The white fish and crab was so fresh! Tasted just like steamed fish we get in sg. I haven’t had a good chawanmushi since last I was in Singapore, which was ages ago.

LZ got the omakase, which was a whopping $95. We _really_ don’t spend that much on food, all things considered. He loved every bit of it though. He got served nearly 18 pieces of nigiri, two rolls, and a tamago finale.

My set had some vegetable/shrimp tempura to accompany my

grilled black cod! This was a pretty awesome cod, but I thought the sake taste was too strong. Also, miso saikyoyaki cod is totally a normal black cod preparation in a lot of japanese restaurants in singapore – off the top of my head, Rakuichi, Fukuichi, Cornerstone I think had one?, The Disgruntled Chef, B @ Rochester, the list goes on and on. But somehow this too sake-y rendition made it to the NYT Must Eat list? Not sure what is going on here. The best I’ve had is definitely in Singapore (possibly the Rochester Park Japanese restaurant), and definitely wouldn’t come with the same price tag.

Another entire platter of nigiri, with the amaebi head deep fried – apparently the best way to eat it. Lots of ang mohs had problems with this of course. They don’t eat heads. They don’t like when the head of something is staring at them when they dine. It’s true that when any shellfish is deep fried their shell becomes incredibly tasty, like keropok though, as if all the umami has been distilled by deep frying.

I gotta admit, I don’t really understand the tamago finale, and actually prefer regular dashimaki tamago. It was such a tiny piece I suppose it was hard to detect that elusive flavour that took him 900 batches to perfect and finally be allowed to make it for paying customers. They mix some sweet potato paste into the egg batter (as explained by the serving staff) so it’s a bit cake-y and sweeter than regular dashimaki tamago. Eh.

LZ’s mind was totally blown by the omakase. I think he’s actually never had uni nigiri and geoduck nigiri, and he said all the flavors were so interesting and so different, even different cuts from the same fish. I’m sure we’ll be back, for another special occasion.

Portrait of a marriage

We’re a few months in, no idea how long exactly. Nobody bothers to count, not when you’re in it for the long haul. I was so surprised after the first month when my mum texted me “You’ve been married for a month!”. I guess somebody is keeping track. We don’t see much meaning in it. I feel like a lot of the adults who assiduously keep track of such lengths of time have to work especially hard at their relationship, so a lengthier commitment becomes a badge of honor for how long they have managed to keep peace or how tenacious they are for not calling it quits.

Nothing is particularly different. We’re the same people, in the same relationship, thinking the same thoughts, judging the same other people. Perhaps we are becoming more pronouncedly ourselves. When he first asked me to date him, the main reason he stated for making the proposition was that he could be the most true version of himself around me. Which essentially means he does not mind burping, farting, making the lamest puns, being totally uncool, being socially awkward, etc. around me. In some angles that sounds romantic. In others that means that I have become equivalent to a piece of furniture around him, so he is physically incapable of being embarrassed around me. Okay.

Here is what happens in the gentle swing of things

1. We hardly go to bed at the same time. I rather dislike sharing my bed actually (yes, I still think of it as mine and he is but a migratory bird on a temporary visa haha). He’s kind of a lanky person but he takes up an extraordinary amount of space for someone so skinny. The other night we switched sides (because the power strip is on his side, and my phone was out of battery but I wanted to play Drop 7 (my latest app addiction, which XM introduced to us when we had to wait for her to finish eating on our road trip. She eats like a little snail.) and he actually had the brazenness to comment that my side of the bed felt smaller.

2. Because I usually sleep much later than him I’ve grown rather well acquainted with all his sleeping sounds. He has three main sleep sounds – eating, squeaking, and snoring. Some nights I hear him chomping away contentedly at nothing, but with distinct swallowing sounds. Then there is the snore. It’s pretty quiet as far as snores go (I’ve heard my dad’s), but it still keeps me wide awake when I’m trying to get to sleep. The squeaking is the cutest. He sounds exactly like a little mouse and I have no idea how he’s making that sound considering he’s a bass. It’s totally high-pitched and squeaky, like a little “eek!” at regular intervals, before it’s back to breathing sounds and eventually snoring. When he starts snoring that’s when I passively aggressively warm my frigid toes in the crook of his knees.

3. Thanks to my irregular sleeping hours and how early he goes to bed, I get kept up a lot and can rarely wake up in the morning (at a normal time). My first class is 11:30am, so that works out nicely. He has a class at 9:30am, then he comes home via bus so that he can ferry me to my class :P I usually prepare a really early lunch (we eat at 11-ish) but have been finding it hard to get up to do even that thanks to the snoring. So he often comes home to find me still tucked beneath the duvet at 10:40am, and now he calls me his embedded submanifold.

4. His puns are so bad I have a ranking system just for them. Just mild puns merit a simple eye-roll. When they’re a little worse I straight up tell him “That’s not funny.” He doesn’t care because I think his puns are for his own entertainment. (Another bonus of seeing me as a piece of furniture is that he can laugh at his own jokes unabashedly) When nobody gets his little jokes (when we’re dining in a group for example) I just give him a look and tell him “Omg, nobody got that”. The worst puns, even I don’t get. His cousin will then gleefully point out that “even Ivana didn’t get it!”

5. We go to the Crest on no-homework days with all the other cheapskate couples to catch second run movies. It’s nice to laugh together at big screen jokes and to be cheap together. Builds a real sense of camaraderie when you’re doing both at the same time. Gas up by the Crest is cheaper too. Today we went to see “Spy” and exulted in the smartness and amazingness of a movie with a predominantly female cast, and where the female cast is totally empowered and competent, even more so than the male agents.

6. We keep a little notebook of the car’s mileage, gallons pumped, and fuel price each time we go to a filling station, like responsible little adults. This is mainly something we picked up from Chris, so you know when your car is not being fuel efficient and when you have to bring it in for a check. And so you can gasp at gas prices in the future and mumble about how much it used to cost “in your day”.

7. We’re slowly developing our own special blend of neuroses, our own perspective of the world, our own moral grounds, our own ideas of what constitutes an insufferable person, our likes and dislikes… so much so that when we walk into a store, we circulate it first by ourselves and then find each other to show the other person the exact same things that caught our eye. It’s happened many times.

I’ll end with a quote from Roger McGough:

our love has become
as comfortable
as the jeans you lounge about in
as my old green coat

as necessary
as the change you get from the milkman
for a five pound note

our love has become
as nice
as a cup of tea in bed
as simple
as something the baby said

5th Anniversary

I decided we should really record what gifts we get for each other during anniversaries because they are invariably very cool things but we can never remember what we received or got from the other person.

0th year (2010):
Ze just asked me out two days before valentines’, so naturally I didn’t have anything prepared or anything. He gave me a cute swing set he got from Minnesota the previous winter (before we even got together!).


It took him 3 days to get up the courage to say anything, and meanwhile these freesias
were slowly dying in his backpack. He lugged them around (in their vase and everything) for three days!

My birthday: He got me three books (that he liked) – The Man Who Was Thursday, The Hunting of the Snark, and A Severe Mercy. I think I read two out of three but decided that we would never have the same taste in books. As in, he likes the books I like, but I don’t like the books he likes. They’re too… boring and philosophical and unliterary.

Ze’s birthday: To pay back the favor I got him a creme brulee torch and a set of ramekins.


I also brought him to Boston for SingSem (he wasn’t invited on account of being an A* scholar). We got stranded at Providence because of Delta cocking up their flights as usual and literally had nowhere to stay because there were no trains or buses running to Boston (where our motel was booked). That was seriously lame but the seafood made up for it.

We went to Skipjacks for dinner :D

skipjack profiterole
Their profiteroles are man-sized.

And then the Boston aquarium:
Here’s a bright blue frog we saw at the Boston Aquarium.

And some really fluorescent jellies!

I also brought him to his first BSO concert. Too bad we didn’t know about the 20 under 40 tickets then.

1st year (2011):
He brought me a bouquet of flowers for our anniversary while I was busy doing MCM. I don’t remember if I got him anything at all. It would be a little strange if we didn’t get anything for each other on our very first anniversary but neither of us remember :/

My birthday: He gave me a boxology box with a fairy mushroom ring in it cause I was doing the fungus course at cornell.
boxology box

He also made me a crossword! And tiffany made me a piano haha.

boxology box2
The cat box with the ring in it.

His birthday: We were in Budapest doing a semester abroad and so we went to Salzburg and Vienna with Michelle!
We hiked in this ice cave in Werfen on his birthday itself. Werfen is about two train stops away from Salzburg. This is the trip in which Michelle remarked “Austrians are so lazy!” in the middle of Vienna and we were so embarrassed :P

Him in Mirabel Gardens

And us at some Mozartplatz in the Salzburg city center


For his birthday we ate at this so-so Italian restaurant. I think it was Michelle’s treat!

It had sparklers for his birthday though!

Here we are in Michelle’s apartment in Vienna and she gave Ze a big box of merci chocolates. I really ought to call her soon.

In Vienna we got to walk about the Belvedere when it was completely deserted cause of the rain.

Why are his birthdays always so much more epic than mine??? :P

2nd year (2012):

My birthday: Ze made me a paper mobile with a locket from etsy and brought me to John Thomas for dinner :D

Ze’s steak

And my scallops in with some sweet bacon sauce that I invariably regret ordering

Their chocolate terrine is pretty good though!

Ze’s birthday: I made him a really epic cake with hazelnut feuilletine
Wow my cake decorating skills were (are) so bad

Here’s the cross section of the truly epic cake. Mousse, ganache, flourless sponge, and feuilletine.

And then we went to the only restaurant in Singapore that has the Vera Pizza Napoletana certification, which is this tiny trattoria in the central business district

Ze and his wine

Their veal ravioli is amazing but they’ve taken it off the menu since :(

3rd year (2013):
What did we do for our anniversary???

My birthday: He brought me to the Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora in the RWS aquarium and we ate fish sitting among fish :P
It’s like this celebrity chef restaurant next to the huge aquarium in Resorts World Sentosa (one of Singapore’s many offshore islands) where yo usee rays and stuff swimming right up to your table.

And then you eat all kinds of delicious seafood in a happy sadistic sort of setup. This is a crabcake sandwich – absolutely how anyone should do crab cake sandwiches! Who needs the bread?

Portions in singapore are all this tiny. Although portions in celebrity chef restaurants are probably tinier than most. You don’t normally hear about people doggie-bagging anything. This was some mad delicious seabass.

I checked out their menu at the podium. The whole place was really fancy! It’s such a luxury to have a car in singapore and get to drive to all of these out of the way places for food.

I also got a purple teapot from him!
This was bought during our double date with ahem yanyan and he-who-shall-not-be-named lol, from a previous visit to the same aquarium. I really wanted to visit the SEA aquarium with them since we had free passes and aquariums are totally my thing.. and the gift shop inexplicably had some really nice pottery! This is my ‘Cinderella’ tea-set because the cups and teapot look very fairy-tale like.

His birthday:
We took leave and we went traipsing around singapore –
1. To the national museum in the morning just to look at their exhibits and draw random stuff at the samsung s pen exhibition,
2. To Jumbo for lunch,
They write your name on these plastic reservation stands. I wonder how they got the spelling right.

The one thing I always order at Jumbo is their home made seaweed tofu covered in braised mushrooms and broccoli

3. To the Hort Park
with this lovely tillandsia exhibit. I’d never been there before this actually.

4. To the Marshmallow tree for tea
which was a stone’s throw from the Hort Park.

(they have a really nice rose latte)

3. And then to the Greenwood Fish Market for dinner
With his folks. I remember his dad exclaiming “Ivana, you don’t like seafood?” when I said I don’t eat sashimi or oysters. Seafood is my favourite thing to order on most menus if it’s cooked.

I got him two books –
presented by our entire menagerie in the car :P

My cool bike and My cool caravan.
which I saw in one of those hipster shops like Cat Socrates or Kinokuniya or something.

And the cake I baked this year (a concorde cake) fared much better on the decorative side than last years! Although last year’s cake with 5 different layers certainly tasted better.

4th year (2014):
We took leave and went to the ion Salt Grill and Sky Bar for the awesome view.

They had this really nice crab omelette, probably the best omelette I've ever eaten in my whole life.

Their curried scallops were also pretty amazing.

This was followed by my birthday: In Ithaca!
I can’t describe how glad I was to be back in Ithaca after two years. Flights from here to there are also not all that expensive so I should really visit more.

Cornell is unspeakably pretty in the snow.

We of course had to do all the things we used to do, like go back to Nasties and have a Mint Chocolate Chip F’real.

This was when he proposed!

And darling Chris made me southern fried chicken for my birthday which was amazing. I’ve never had anyone really cook me a special birthday meal before with champagne and the best table linen and everything. I think singaporeans just aren’t that great at making people feel special.

Chris also bought me this magnificent chocolate decadence cake from Wegmans which was really awesome, I wish I had packed it with me when we flew to Boulder after. The grocery store cakes here just aren’t as good.

His birthday: In Seattle.
He got a trophy cupcake; his cousin got him (us) a car radio, and I got him a purple hot water bottle from Etsy as well as Bob the Tomato plushie (he is a total Veggietales fan).

He got a lot of presents from home!

This is the beautiful polka dotted box from Paper Source that was housing an extremely squished Bob the Tomato

I brought him to Palisade for dinner during Seattle restaurant week.

Their seafood is amazingly fresh and the scallops were perfectly seared.

5th year (2015):

I got this judgmental zebra and erudite giraffe from him for our anniversary. We spotted them in 10000 villages (a fair trade chain) and I really liked them because they were so anthropomorphous. There’s just something super surreal about waking up and seeing a zebra with its legs crossed looking at you with an “Oh really.” expression.

He also gave me a box of Fran’s chocolates for vday

which was really exciting. I love Fran’s! They only do the best salted caramels in the world.

I got these roses from him about 2 weeks before vday and then a little pot of white roses on our anniversary itself accompanied by a lovely quote by Ian Burgham:

And you, a windrose, a compass, my direction, my description of the world.

He didn’t know a windrose is not a rose, which I found hilarious. And he’s a scout! Don’t they read maps and compasses and things??

all the meals were super crabby, from this dungeness crab melt from coastal kitchen to

this amazing crab and artichoke dip from Cutter’s Crabhouse.

I am extremely poor now since we’re waiting on our allowances to come in (I’m basically living off him right now), but I managed to bring him to

Paint the Town in the UVillage to paint some pottery.

My pottery looked much better pre-glazing.

He painted this cute tilted bowl for candy and stuff but which he uses for cereal. “It’s like you’re eating his brains!” he says.

We just collected them after glazing last week and they look like this:

His cereal bowl got a chip on it coming out of the kiln so they gave us a $20 voucher to go back and paint something else! I’m really excited.

My painted city (I was copying an illustration by Ji Mi) turned out kinda patchy :S

(something like this)

But I do like the splotchy typography on the other side that came naturally from a ceramic paint pen.

Phew that took a lot of trawling through my old photo archives, which are really badly managed. I also only keep the current year’s photos on my computer hard drive and am too lazy to go digging for photos out of my hard drive so I had to find everything on facebook or flicker. And we still have no recollection what we did for various anniversaries and vdays :P I resolve to keep a better record of all these special occasions!