Exhibit 3: A copy of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

R. and I both started reading Walden in the beginning of our relationship. It takes a certain amount of solitude to grow fond of Walden, and our relationship was a vessel where we could put both our isolations while keeping them separate, like water and oil. We were living together, but decided to sleep in different rooms, both reading Walden before falling sleep. It was our proxy: our bodies were separated by the wall in between our rooms, but our minds were converging towards the same ideas. By the time we broke up, neither of us had finished. Nevertheless, we continued reading it.

From the Breakup Museum in Zagreb. I gather this is a new-ish development? Because the last time we were in Zagreb we didn’t bother seeing much/any of it except the wall of graffiti near the bus station. I still remember a very sweet old man giving us some danishes while we were wandering around near the bakery at the bus station. Looking lost? Homeless? Penniless? We were not very self-aware at the time.

I wonder if having a partner makes you travel more, rather than less. If you had to travel alone and foot the cost of a hotel alone etc. would that be too cost-prohibitive? Including all the planning you had to do, alone? And all the eating in restaurants in foreign places, alone? I’ve done my fair share of solo travelling and always found it delightful. But then again, it takes a certain amount of solitude to grow fond of Walden.

Last night we talked about how the outliers in social ineptitude rarely have their friends tell them to their face that they are being dicks. I guess to wit I do not recall an instance where I have directly told a friend that. I generally just don’t make friends with such people. Perhaps the more impressive phenomenon is the friends of said dicks (let’s call them FOD for short), who are nice enough to hang out with them at length without complaining or being turned off. Wouldn’t they then be the ideal friend? Super tolerant and always encouraging. Even in amity the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. One of these FODs actually sent me a Christmas card last Christmas without my sending him one! Thanking me for hosting him for a meal last year. That was the sweetest thing ever.

The amazing thing about the Singapore gossip mill is that everybody kinda-sorta knows everybody else (even nominally) in a given social circle. So that allowed us to distill concretely several examples of Ds and FODs :P which I think yields better analysis. This is the main benefit I have found in going to the right schools. Better gossip.

latest book

So Yishun Library just opened while we were here and I homed in directly on their singlit section. Nobody else showed much interest except a young boy who was there poring through the Singapore Ghost Stories. I picked up an anthology – Under One Sky, and so far the most brilliant thing I have seen in it is this:

2018-02-05 13.59.15.jpg

So cute. I confess the shorts translated from Chinese were lost on me (even after translation!) in that I did not see the point of some of them but I did like the one with the paper menagerie. I read it at the dentist and almost cried right before it was my turn to be seen, which would have made the dentist understandably antsy if his patient were in tears before her teeth were even fiddled with.

The ones translated from Malay were also meandering with not much of a concrete plot, just themes woven together to evoke certain moods. So this poem is still my favourite. Yishun Library is super snazzy now with little reading nooks (with individual lights you can turn off and on), loads of magazine cubbies, and a ton of people already using it; it was as if it was never closed (I went on opening day).

Northpoint has also become a veritable food haven with restaurants I actually like! Of course after 20 odd years of living in Yishun they only decide to up their game when I am about to move away. There’s Din Tai Fung, Sushi Tei, London Duck, Canton Paradise, 4fingers/Bonchon/Jinjja chicken – three korean fried chicken establishments. We don’t even have one in Seattle and there are now THREE in Yishun.

Of course even with all those restaurants I asked X to venture further with me to Yishun Park where there is a famous har cheong gai. Our JC music teacher joined us (since we all live in the north) and he finally got a free meal out of us in exchange for the torture we subjected him to back in JC. I used to go over his notes and worksheets with green and red squiggly lines for spelling/grammatical errors and bounced them back to him. After the rather excellent Ah Tan chicken wings we took a bus back to Northpoint and he gave us a most uninformative tour of the place in which he basically pointed at restaurants and said “So here’s some food” and “There’s some more food…”

Of course halfway through he tried to get me to quit my job and to join him and X at MOE teaching music/planning the music syllabus, and also to help him screenwrite some of the shorts he wants to film/produce since he thinks my language skills are decent and we have established that his sucks. Every time I meet this guy or talk to this guy the odds of being asked to do creative work for him (for free, in my limited spare time) are very high. He thinks I’ve been wasting my life away studying math but I showed him my wooden adult mobiles (he has a v. strange brain in which he doesn’t know many words or technical terms for objects, in this case ‘mobiles’, but once I namedrop Alexander Calder we both reset to the same page. So one sorta needs to know how to hack his brain before any comms can be established.) and baby origami mobiles and he thinks I should sell them on Carousell under the Baby Toys section. He says that they will sell (I never doubted that) from $50-$100 apiece, but I have barely had any time to actually make some for commercial purposes (even though I have already designed a logo for my etsy shop, but that’s about as far as I’ve got :P). So far I have only made 3? for young kids that I actually know (or whose parents I know), and one for ourselves. He still has our work and the H3 projects we did in 2007 in his cubicle! Crazy! Is he a hoarder? I barely remember what I wrote back then.

In fact the other day Z told me his mum found a review I wrote of the book she gave me for my birthday last year and I could hardly remember that I wrote any such thing.  It has not even been a year since  I posted that. I don’t normally review books since I’m not really interested in reviewing books but that lady made me so pissed off with her rhetoric that I gave her a one star on Goodreads and basically warned everybody off buying her book. Which I guess was not the best thing for Z’s mum to find considering it was her gift :P Apparently I had written three extremely harsh paragraphs taking the entire thing apart and she got his entire family to read the review and they were all bemused. I felt bad after Z told me so went back to see what I wrote but everything was justified so I stopped feeling bad really quick :P

Done (2017)

Books read:
1. The New Yorker 2016 Cartoon Edition
2. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
3. Longbourn, Jo Baker
4. The Home-Maker, Dorothy Canfield Fisher
5. The Perfect Hamburger and other Delicious Stories, Alexander McCall Smith
6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 1, Jeff Kinney
7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 10: Old School, Jeff Kinney
8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 5: The Ugly Truth, Jeff Kinney
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 4: Dog Days, Jeff Kinney
10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 6: Cabin Fever, Jeff Kinney
11. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules, Jeff Kinney
12. Esio Trot, Roald Dahl
13. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3: The Last Straw, Jeff Kinney
14. Before and After, Matthias Aregui
15. Spoiled Brats, Simon Rich
16. Meditations in an Emergency, Frank O’Hara
17. Eat, Muse, Love; Chua Foo Young
18. Shoulder the Sky, D.E. Stevenson
19. Folding Paper, Meher McArthur
20. The Half Stitched Amish Quilting Club series (Books 1,2,3); Wanda Brunstetter
21. Between Two Seas, Carmine Abate
22. The Amish Millionaire series (Books 1,2,3,4,5,6); Wanda and Jean Brunstetter
23. Sarah’s Choice (Brides of Lehigh Canal #3), Wanda Brunstetter
24. Wild Horses (Sadie’s Montana 1); Linda Byler
25. Keeping Secrets (Sadie’s Montana 2); Linda Byler
26. The Disappearances (Sadie’s Montana 3); Linda Byler
27. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 11; Jeff Kinney
28. Absolutely on Music; Haruki Murakami, Seiji Ozawa
29. Bit Rot; Douglas Coupland
30. The Illustrated Book of Sayings: Curious Expressions from Around the World; Ella Frances Sanders
31. Orbit: Poems; Cynthia Zarin
32. The Lesson; Suzanne Woods Fisher
33. Every Good Deed and other stories; Dorothy Whipple
34. The Moving Toyshop; Edmund Crispin
35. Losing it; Emma Rathbone
36. Meddling and Murder; Ovidia Yu
37. Washington Driver’s Guide
38. Crazy Rich Asians; Kevin Kwan
39. China Rich Girlfriend; Kevin Kwan
40. Rich People Problems; Kevin Kwan
41. The Frangipani Tree; Ovidia Yu
42. We were always eating expired things; Cheryl Julia Lee
43. Princess in the Spotlight; Meg Cabot
44. Princess in Love; Meg Cabot
45. Princess in Waiting; Meg Cabot
46. Princess in Pink; Meg Cabot
47. Princess in Training; Meg Cabot
48. Party Princess; Meg Cabot
49. Sweet Sixteen Princess; Meg Cabot
50. Valentine Princess; Meg Cabot
51. Princess on the brink; Meg Cabot
52. Princess Mia; Meg Cabot
53. Forever Princess; Meg Cabot
54. Royal Wedding; Meg Cabot
55. Princess Lessons; Meg Cabot
56. From the notebooks of a middle school princess; Meg Cabot
57. Alice in the know; Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
58. One more thing; B.J. Novak
59. The Grooming of Alice; Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
60. Royal Wedding Disaster; Meg Cabot
61. Alice on the outside; Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
62. Alice on board; Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
63. A Week in Paris; Rachel Hore
64. The Book of Snobs; D.J. Taylor (husband of Rachel Hore)

Now reading: Lapham’s Quarterly: Home, Chatsworth; Balik Kampung; Nathan Hawthorne – Tanglewood Tales,

Dramas completed:
1. Feast of the Gods (2012)
2. Goblin (2016/17)
3. Legend of the Blue Sea (2016/17)
4. Happy Together (1999)
5. Queen In Hyun’s Man (2014)
6. Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim (2016/17)
7. We Got Married (Jjongah)
8. High School King of Savvy (2014)
9. My Princess (2011)
10. Autumn in my heart (2000)
11. Summer Scent (2003)
12. Hwarang (2017)
13. Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (2017)
14. What happens to my family? (2014)
15. High Society (2014)
16. Ms. Perfect (2017)
17. Sirius (2012)
18. Reply 1988 (2015)
19. Dummy Mommy (2012)
20. Misaeng
21. Moonlight drawn by clouds (2016)
22. She was pretty
23. Oh My Ghost
24. Fight for my way (2017)
25. Suspicious Partner (2017)
26. You’re the best, Lee Soon Shin!
27. Descendants of the Sun
28. Emergency Couple
29. The Prime Minister and I
30. Witch’s Romance
31. Time Slip Dr. Jin
32. The King Loves
33. Wang’s Family
34. Kill me, Heal me
35. Pasta (2010)
36. Saimdang, Light’s Diary
37. I remember you/Hello Monster (2014)
38. Shopping King Louis (2016)
39. Reply 1997
40. The King’s Face
41. While you were sleeping (2017)
42. Temperature of Love (2017)
43. Rascal Sons
44. Innocent Man
45. Black (2017)
46. Royal Gambler
57. Trot Lovers

Now watching: Temptation (2014)

Movies watched:
1. Eun Gyo
2. 500 Days of Summer
3. 50/50 (set in Seattle! but majority filmed in Vancouver)
4. The Night Before
5. Tough as Iron
6. Mood Indigo
7. The Walk (2015)
8. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
9. Maid in Manhattan
10. Clueless
11. Bounty Hunters
12. Enemies in law
13. Dad for Rent
14. Pride and Prejudice (1995)
15. Lady in the Van
16. Sense and Sensibility
17. Jane Eyre
18. Midnight Diner 2
19. Totoro
20. Obsessed
21. Bride Wars
22. Arthur (1981)
23. A Werewolf Boy (2012)
24. The Third Way of Love
25. Almost Famous
26. Arthur 2: On the rocks
27. Fate (2008)
28. Casa Amor
29. It could happen to you
30. Eloise at the Plaza
31. The Servant
32. Arthur (2011)
33. The Princess Diaries
34. Eloise at Christmastime
35. 10 things I hate about you (filmed in Seattle!)
36. The housemaid
37. Fever Pitch (2005)
38. She’s all that (1999)
39. Valley Girl (1983)
40. The King
41. The Great Gatsby
42. Chinese Puzzle
43. The Meddler
44. The Great Gilly Hopkins
45. Mona Lisa Smile

Now watching:

Games played:
1. Monopoly Deal
2. Terra Mystica
3. Dominion
4. Lords of the Waterdeep
5. Sushi Go
6. 80 points
7. Bang
8. Code Names
9. Blokus
10. Red Se7en
11. Through the ages
12. Go Stop

Piano pieces learnt:
1. Etude Op. 10 No. 3 ‘Tristesse’, F. Chopin
2. Fantasiestucke Op. 88 (piano part), R. Schumann

Kids’ books

You can never go back – on loving children’s books as an adult, says

Handy found a means to circumvent the social inconvenience of haunting library kid’s sections, though: having kids of his own.

this, while a pretty good reason to have kids, seems to be extending social inconvenience to an inconvenience that permeates all aspects of life. I’d rather haunt the children’s section alone like a creepy stalker, thanks very much. Most people probably do assume I am checking out books for my kids. I don’t know why so many people (particularly in church or family) seem to be overly interested in our offspring. Someone recently mistook an instagram post for a baby announcement. Most friends who know us know how anti-natalist we are and would never assume such a thing. So there is a clear divide between our close friends and all the other people who are the instagram audience and two different things are being communicated all the time.

I’ve recently started reading One More Thing, by B.J. Novak – it got off to a slow start with an alternative hare and rabbit tale (I am not a fan of fables, with all their moralizing) but got subsequently much better with “‘The Something’ by John Grisham” in which one of John Grisham’s books mistakenly gets released with the publisher thinking that ‘The Something’ was the title he wanted instead of just a placeholder for his typical lofty titles, which he hadn’t had time to come up with yet. John Grisham found out that his book ‘The Something’ was number one on best seller lists in his newspaper and shit hit the fan :P Almost Simon Rich-esque. Harvard must be doing something right.

Been too lazy/busy to start on christmas cards (and I really should, if I want to send them out at all) – instead I’ve been busy making luggage tags with Japanese maple leaves and my new Amazon Basics laminator. I looked up whether or not I could relaminate something (that had little air pockets) twice and this forum that told me I could (and I did) also informs on how laminating machines are not allowed in schools without excessive checks and then devolved completely into a principal bitchfest. “Is your principal my principal? Because…”

In other news, made 12 inarizushi today with a little packet of onigiri spices I brought back from Japan (you just mix it into the rice with sushi rice vinegar etc.) and tuna mayonnaise in the middle and inhaled like 10 of them throughout the course of the day. Got a huge inari craving yesterday while we were at uwajimaya. I’m all out of sushi vinegar though so can’t get my next fix until we go to the asian supermarket.

The ending of the article:

Handy ends his survey of child lit with E.B. White, whose terse brilliance has yet to be surpassed; he was similarly successful at writing for adults. The grand tear-jerking finale of Charlotte’s Web is technically the spider’s quiet death, but I’ve always struggled most with Fern’s declining interest in Wilbur the pig’s survival. She’s grown too invested in riding the Ferris wheel with a boy named Henry Fussy. White “doesn’t condemn her for it,” Handy notices approvingly, since “Fern’s interest in boys is as natural and inevitable as the change of seasons.” White doesn’t wish to stunt his heroine’s growth like other children’s authors might (C.S. Lewis infamously shamed Susan Pevensie for leaving Narnia behind in favor of lipstick and nylons when she came of age).

I understand Fern’s falling for Henry Fussy. I’ve fallen for more than a few Henry Fussys myself. But her abandonment of unsuspecting Wilbur still hurts me in a way a Henry type never could. I guess it’s the ache of innocence—the kind of ache that doesn’t have anything to do with lust or greed or any dark desire, but with deep-seated childhood fears. I don’t want Fern to leave Wilbur behind, because I feel as though she’s leaving me, moving on from our days of lounging in the barn amongst earthy smells, two lazy friends sat in the sun. At the same time, I know that I am Fern, and I’ve abandoned Wilbur a hundred times over, following the same societal and biological pull of romance and progress. I’ll probably be torn between the two all my life. Maybe everyone is.

Huh. I’d never thought of Lewis’ portrayal of Susan Pevensie as “shaming” but now that I think about it, that’s exactly what it is. I did feel a veneer of disdain toward her while reading the series. Omg all these children’s authors are just playing with my mind.

More shouts and murmurs

1. An Imagined Date Between Two Straight Men
LOL. This is EXACTLY how I would have written it.

Matt: It’s nice to finally meet you! I like your flannel shirt that smells like whatever soup you had for lunch.

The banal conversation and the fake feminism.


lol. I guess we can agree on one thing. I wonder if this is what all married women fantasize about. Their husbands running off with another man and leaving them well alone.

I mean, I am in several Whatsapp conversations with exactly two other heterosexual (or so I’m led to believe) men and it’s really quite accurate! Especially the Cards Against Humanity obsession. My heterosexual men are not so poncey as to discuss the postmodern condition or to call things “Kafkaesque” though.

2. Valentine’s Day word problems
Ah, I was falsely led to believe that it would be problems to do with words, like anagrams or some such thing. I forget that K-12 teachers here inexplicably like to call math problems ‘word problems’.

6. A friend sets you up with one of her co-workers on a blind date, on Valentine’s Day. At dinner, your date insists it’s important that “we give President Trump a chance.” If your youngest sibling is five years younger than you and is about to celebrate her second wedding anniversary in three weeks, how important is it that a couple has so much in common, really?

3. People more difficult to break up with than your SO

4. Classic Rom-coms Rewritten for Trump’s America
This makes me feel like rewatching all of them! It’s been more than a decade since I went on my romcom binge in rgs. To watch: Clueless, You’ve Got Mail, Maid in Manhattan, Reality Bites (have not watched?), Obvious Child, Casablanca, Kate and Leopold, Annie Hall, The Lake House. Well, maybe not Lake House.

5. The Kama-Sutra for Married Couples
As always, Simon Rich is gold.

6. The Cheater’s Guide to Love

7. Books just for grown-ups, with cute interactive shelf!

8. A Singaporean love story in civil servant speak
omg… “Irregardless”… the whole thing was so painful.

9. OMG This is me to a tee!

For years, I resented any recipe that called for tomato paste. It wasn’t the flavor of the paste itself, which I’ve always been fond of, or even my erroneous suspicion that its impact on finished dishes was overrated. Rather, it was the sight of yet another full can (less one or two tablespoons at most) joining its half-used predecessors in the back of my refrigerator, an elephants’ graveyard of forgotten tomato pastes in various states of decay.

Finally, a cute comic by Adam Ellis:
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Links 2

Mainly for my own remembrance
1. Well people are actually moving to Canada

Also, a company called True North has sprung up overnight, in Vancouver, to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to start poaching some of our top technology talent.

“Got U.S. visa worries?” the company’s website goads. “The solution is True North. We make it simple for you to immediately gain the necessary paperwork to set up a Canadian work and residency status similar to what you have in the US, so that you avoid disruptions or uncertainty relating to changing U.S. visa regulations.”

2. How the kiwi descended from the chinese gooseberry

It all began in 1904, when Mary Isabel Fraser, the principal of an all-girls school, brought back some Chinese gooseberry seeds from China. They were then given to a farmer named Alexander Allison who, planted them in his farm near the riverine town of Whanganui. The trees went on to bear their first fruit in 1910.

But, as luck would have it, neither the British nor the American attempt at commercializing the fruit was as fruitful. For example, the first batch of seeds brought to Britain’s Veitch Nursery all produced male plants, thwarting the growers’ plans to produce edible fruit. The same fate befell the U.S. government’s attempt. “It seems ironic that the sending of seed by a missionary to an amateur gardener should eventually lead to a new horticultural industry, when the efforts of the Veitch Nursery and the U.S. Department of Agriculture were so much less successful,” Ferguson remarked in his 1983 essay.

The gooseberry’s rebranding didn’t happen until almost 50 years after Allison’s trees bore fruit, according to New Zealand’s official history, when agricultural exporter Turners & Growers started calling their U.S.-bound Chinese gooseberries “kiwifruits” on June 15, 1959.

The fruit’s importer told Turners & Growers that the Chinese gooseberry needed a new name to be commercially viable stateside, to avoid negative connotations of “gooseberries,” which weren’t particularly popular. After passing over another proposed name, melonette, it was finally decided to name the furry, brown fruit after New Zealand’s furry, brown, flightless national bird. It also helped that Kiwis had become the colloquial term for New Zealanders by the time.

Huh. I thought it was at least hybridized or something but it looks like they took it wholesale!

3. On Puzder as labor secretary

A bit whingy and over-emotional/irrational. Like, if for the first 5 years of your job you hardly see any raises or anything wouldn’t you go looking elsewhere? Why would you let your career continue in the same trajectory? But yes, I see your point.

4. Jake Tapper grills Kellyanne Conway on Trump’s Lies

5. The dishes of different dialect groups each chinese new year
Thought the hainanese chicken rice with creamy mushroom and chicken sauce was quite weird haha. I always felt chicken rice was a 清 dish though, having a gloppy sauce is a bit weird.

6. On Emily Temple-Wood, the wikipedia editor who fought back online misogynist trolls by adding articles about underrepresented and unknown female scientists every time she received a threat or insult. People -.- Should learn that their personal insecurities are not a woman’s problem to solve.

7. This picture is me at any social gathering involving more than 4 people (including Z)

8. Flight Attendant Quietly Informs First Class Passengers Where Real Emergency Exits Are


Used to do this quite often last time when I was very free to surf all the weird and wonderful links on fb.
Have been having trouble sleeping recently so here’s what I have been reading (in addition to watching Sens. Warren and Sander’s videos on fb)

1. This gecko sheds his scales to get away from predators – why, I’m not sure how it helps. Oh, apparently its predators grab onto it via its scales, so it’s akin to criminals shedding their coats when they are grabbed by law enforcement officials. They also have some freaking humongous scales! More like a pangolin than a gecko.

2. New Yorker mockery of hygge

I sit under a thick, lumpy blanket with my new book about hygge and light the “cabin-scented” candle I got from my office Secret Santa, Gail. Is this hygge?

The candle smells more like new rain boots than like a cozy cabin, so I put it out, cupping my hand around the flame and blowing slowly, savoring this moment of domestic defeat. I pull on another pair of socks. I think this is hygge.


My hygge book doesn’t say anything about not looking at screens, but it feels implied. I should Google it.

I open a fifteenth tab about Laura Linney. I don’t know how I got here, but I embrace the journey.

I love Laura Linney too! Especially her accent.

3. And since I am really missing the chowder at Skipjacks, I suppose I should try Kenji’s New England Clam Chowder recipe pretty soon. It’s just not the same as Seattle clam chowder, as our recent visit back to New York confirmed.


4. Why yes I would like a greasy soulless valentine’s day menu. Screw the champagne and the chocolate covered strawberries, those pepperoni garlic knots are definitely what we’re going to do.

5. On Republicans silencing my favorite senator and well, now everybody’s gonna hear about Coretta Scott King’s letter. I gotta say though, with Betsy Devos being confirmed I can’t help but be convinced that majority of the senate republicans are a bunch of wusses with little to no regard for the competencies and ethics of the people they are handing influence on a platter.

6. China’s oldest newborn teenager – well the jury’s still out on having children but it’s nice to know technology allows you to do it when you’re in the middle of a mid-life crisis.

7. Sherlock Holmes and the Massacre at Bowling Green. Well. The title speaks for itself :P

He handed me a dusty photograph featuring a rather tall man reminiscent of the orangutan in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and a blond woman with a somewhat vacuous expression.

“Is she on the left?” I asked, peering at the crumpled image.

“The far right,” responded Holmes. “Oh, you mean in the photograph. Yes, that’s her.”


“What was it that she said again?”

“ ‘I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi-refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.’ ”

“Goodness. She’s not a very eloquent speaker, is she?”

“My dear Watson, the woman just witnessed a horrifying event all by herself. Of course her words were not so well selected. She is obviously in shock.”

lolol this story is gold everyone has to read it.

8. Kenji’s recipe for extra flaky scallion pancakes, since I have not had any good ones here yet. The hot water dough sounds easy enough to make, and I thought it was cute how he got inspiration from Yan can cook. We all used to watch that as children in sg! I think it was on free-to-air. There’s no telling what you pick up from your upbringing that will psychologically impact the way you cook and live.

9. In which the internetz discusses Obama’s snapback fashion choices and the reality that he’s not coming back

10. Long-ish NYer article about losing things. Very me.