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.

Annunci

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.

4th July

No update, just saw this on facebook and thought wtf. You can only eat sushi if you score 9 out of 13 on this quiz, and the first question is what fish is in a Philadelphia roll? Really?! Human cluelessness will never cease to amaze me. I don’t even like sushi but I feel offended on behalf of their inventors.

Anyway we drove up to Paradise on Mt Rainier today and my husband was doing silly stuff as usual:

“Does it look like I’m walking?” His core is too weak to hold his upper body up for any length of time. All the trails in Paradise were snowed over and we gingerly made our way up the Skyview trail(?) only to turn back halfway when everyone was basically sledding off this steep snow drift to get back down.

 
I’m really bad at going downslope because I am terribly afraid of falling and breaking my camera and/or any bones. Gareth was a champ and went all the way to the glacier view trail while we were napping at the visitor’s centre although I’m not sure the view was very different from base camp.

I need to stop taking photos I am completely swamped in backlog. And we are going to Vancouver in 2 weeks :S Maybe I’ll just stay indoors and otaku it out, I mean, it’s only Vancouver, we’ve been there tons of times, and if I go exploring I’ll just be spending more money :P I shudder to think of our expenses in the UK, especially all those delightful meals at Hakkasan. We already limited ourselves to weekend dimsum, which is vastly cheaper than meals at any other time, but at 65 quid a meal one does feel the pinch. On the upside, it’s 5% cashback at restaurants for Chase Freedom and Discover this quarter! Whoopie. I wish they’d learn how to arrange their cashback quarters so they don’t overlap :x

Loss

And so I’ve finally misplaced a piece of jewelry. Kathryn Schulz had a good piece in the NYer last week on loss –

Such losses sadden us because they presage larger ones — of autonomy, of intellectual capacity, ultimately of life itself.

I wore a necklace into the shower without thinking, removed it, wrapped it in a piece of kleenex, managed to remember to move the kleenex containing the necklace from the bathroom to my dresser… whereupon it lay forgotten until it morphed from “kleenex wrapped necklace” to “used kleenex” and made its merry way to the bin. T-T I’ve always wondered how people lose their rings gardening etc. and it seems that I have now reached that age.

We attended another chamber music concert (Bolcom’s Serenata Notturna + Schubert’s Octet) and it was fab. The violist switched out inbetween pieces and I totally didn’t notice – just whispered to LZ “hey, she changed her skirt.” (The first violist wore a burgundy velvet skirt and the second one wore a black one) He whispered back to me “the whole person has changed. By extension it is also true that the skirt has changed.” That just goes to show how unobservant I am wrt appearance. On our anniversary dinner at Six Seven I managed to wear my sweater inside out until halfway through the meal when he pointed it out and I bothered to change it (I wouldn’t have done so as an undergrad). There were like TWO tags sticking out :P In my defence it was one of those knits with the same pattern on the outside an on the inside. He calls all sweaters with that diamond pattern my “combinatorics shirts” because our undergrad combinatorics text had a similar diamond pattern on the cover.

The 1st violinist in the ensemble is the current assistant concert mistress of the Seattle Symphony. Both principal and deputy concertmaster seats are empty, and they are hiring. She broke like THREE horse hairs throughout the course of the evening! How hard is she pressing that bow?? The cellist was really cute. I think I just really like cellists. If you presented me a cellist on any Coffee Meets Bagel/Tinder platform I would immediately swipe right. He was this asian guy with a pompadour (tt LZ didn’t like) and I didn’t think he was cute at first but then he would break out in the most adorable grin in the middle of playing because he was really enjoying it (or missed a note?); he was grinning to the second violinist and it was so cute. I wonder if they have a thing going on. He was also really good, not as good as the Rimsky-Korsakov cellist but really on point, had mature expressions, and really shone in his solos. I liked the Octet a lot more than the Serenata, and would post a youtube link here only it was so much better in person than listening on youtube. Also I had an inaccurate memory of performing a Schubert trio in JC with a very pretty, ethereal nachtmusik mvmt (which was why I decided to go for this concert) but it turns out it was Schumann’s Fantaisiestucke Op. 88


(the fourth mvt is really pretty)

The last time I performed seriously (for exams and shit) was a decade ago, so you’ll excuse my faulty memory. While even looking for the name of the fantaisiestucke I came upon an old exam program and had totally no recollection of preparing those pieces :P
1. Poulenc – Trois Pieces: II Hymne
2. Beethoven – Sonata no. 6 in F major
3. Grieg – Violin Sonata in F major

Like I had to look the pieces up on youtube to verify that I did indeed know them and knew how to play them decently at some point in my life :x

Back to the octet, I really enjoyed the quiet movements and that bit where all the strings glided in so smoothly and quietly (the Illsley Ball auditorium has really good reverb). There were a couple of pretty embarrassing moments when the first violin cued in the final movement with an additional, accidental F, and another string bit in unison arpeggios at the end of the first movement when either the first or second vln played a Bb in an F major arpeggio :S – yes, I am that person who picks out mistakes – I don’t want to, they just jump out at me and niggle in my mind for the longest time. But Z liked them better overall than the Rimsky-Korsakov quartet, whose first vlnist he thought was a bit messy and perhaps complacent.

Am looking forward to the next campus club concerts! We also managed to score free parking that evening in downtown Seattle(!!) so the concert was totally free!

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
Full 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.

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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:
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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

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on the picture frame leading to the loft

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in the bathroom

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on the shopping shelf

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on the ntuc water bottle

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on the mechanical wave toy

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underneath zassou

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next to the crate & barrel fox

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next to the pebble tower

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on top of my muji humidifier

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and on top of the chesapeake bay candle

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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 Jacque's Eclairs
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.

Christmas presents!

Had the guys over for some Bahamian food the other day – since I wanted to try the jerk spice mix we brought back from Genuinely Bahamian.Turns out, it’s insanely difficult to find pigeon peas here – we drove to three different supermarkets (asian/hispanic) – the first two didn’t have them – just a lot of pintos, black eyed peas, regular peas, lentils, etc. Finally I called up Mendoza’s Mercado (this tiny hole in the wall on Aurora St) and the shopowner told me he had them! Should have started with him. I don’t know how popular pigeon peas are among mexicans, all I know is it’s a Bahamian peas and rice thing, and I wanted to make a super peas and rice just like the one at Lukka Kairi (failed, btw) which of course wouldn’t be the same without pigeon peas.

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ZH came at 6:15pm and GGY gave me an eta of 7:30pm, so I started frying the battered bananas at 7:15pm. He was 10 minutes late! Then he waltzed in and said in his typical sing-songy way
“Hello everybody!”
“Traffic bad?”
“No, traffic was GREAT.” (he’s not being sarcastic. ggy is just not a very sarcastic person)
“lol you don’t have to be so honest you know..”
“There were NO cars on the road.”
“Then how come you were late?”
“I left late.”
lol. No shame, this one.

We got so many presents! It’s so fun to have friends lol. ZH gave us a double sided(?) hotpot! Since he knew we didn’t have one. Now we can have hotpot parties. Tbh I’m not a super big hotpot person but I do like Japanese odens and Korean soon dobu jigaes and if I ever have a good superior stock recipe down then I think I would like hotpot. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense in super hot and humid Singapore so I never had it growing up, at least not in a restaurant? It was always homemade in my grandma’s house at CNY or something and so I always associated it with sweatiness and a general zomg-you-mean-I-have-to-cook-it-myself?!? kinda vibe. That said, I think it makes quite a bit of sense here and we’ve already got a few soup bases to toy around with.

Then GGY produced a present each for me and LZ! Totally unexpected. We got him a present of course, his birthday was just after christmas and we hadn’t seen him since then. I got a nice bottle of pilot iroshizuku ink in mountain grape color. It matches the rest of my ink perfectly! Time to write some nice letters.

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Z got a mechanical pencil, which GGY calls his favourite mechanical pencil lol. The funny thing is, Z got TWO of those mechanical pencils for his birthday in October from the same person, one in black and one in silver. The tip sorta rotates a bit so a sharp edge never forms with the lead. The packages came from Amazon prime and the card said “Happy birthday LZ! From: LZ” and we had NO idea who sent it. Asked around several people, including ggy, and we even made him double confirm “you sure you didn’t send it?” In the end it was SL who sent it, and then the note made sense, because who knows what Jaws is reading out to her when she’s filling in the form for the birthday note on Amazon? She’s visually impaired so filling in things like that would be trickier for her. But apparently our implanting the idea of giving Z a mechanical pencil in GGY’s mind was so powerful that he really went and got him one for christmas. We’re never talking about pencils again. Next time we talk, it’ll be all about ferraris.

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We got ZH a little autobridge game from the Downtown Antique Shop in Nashville (where you play bridge with yourself) and I repapered the cover, as with most games you get in an antique shop, the cover can be quite cui. Of course you lose a little of the vintage feel, but I wanted him to feel like it was a present rather than a random piece of junk lol. Now the cover looks as good as LZ’s go set (I used the same pattern of Nepali paper)

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For ggy we went to the Bean & Bailey workshop in Chattanooga to get him the little faceted salt bowls we saw in Portland and absolutely adored. Wrapped it in a rum cake box to throw him off the scent (well, rum cake is quite a plausible present since we did just come back from the Bahamas but is not as satisfying as those little salt bowls.) He loved them :)

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We got him orange, purple, and grey, all in light pastels.

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And seconds in cobalt, teal grey, and dark grey for ourselves. These were half price because they were color tests. They don’t actually produce pieces in these colors.

All in all, a rather nice belated christmas celebration :) Would be better if I had made the salted egg yolk cookies in time for ggy to bring back to sg but I am still recovering from the bout of fever and sore throat contracted while in Nashville (we suspect it was the Nashville hot chicken that did my throat in) so have been feeling very listless and not-wanting-to-do-anything-useful. Also my legs are covered ALL OVER in mosquito bite scabs. Or perhaps they were sand flies, one can never tell. I’m not very good at not scratching either. It looks like my legs right after I got back from OBS. Hopefully it goes away at some point! This would be a perfect time for a nice oppa to suddenly appear with a packet of anti-scarring lotion wrapped in a white paper bag from a korean pharmacy. Ah, one can only dream.

The Worst Has Finally Happened

I sliced off the tip of my ring finger while trying to make very thin lunes of onion for my cabbage-scallop-oden braise. I had 3 guests coming over for dinner, it wasn’t the knife’s fault at all, I had just sharpened it on my wet japanese whetstone last week. It was the onion that slipped, and made the knife slice off the tip of my finger. It was megagross! LZ wanted to bring me to the emergency room but I really didnt want to go (oh yes, this is being typed entirely with my right hand so i will be eschewing things like apostrophes and good grammar) because im afraid of doctors, shots, stitches, the whole shebang. i dont mean in a hick way, of course id go if it were urgent. but i needed to feed 5 people tonight and my chicken was in the oven. lz had a look around the onions and found the piece that came off – sorry if this is grossing anybody out. it was a disk about 6mm in diameter and 2mm in thickness, nothing so bad, but the blood was really pouring. compressed it with a clean (i hope) kitchen towel, which did stave the bleeding, but I left it there for nearly 1.5 hrs while lz finished his dinner (with the company) which meant that the paper towel freaking annealed to the open wound and i had to rip it off. he managed to get some antiseptic ointment and non adhesive dressing and ripping the kitchen towel off was. quite the experience. we did of course call the school clinic to get advice about whether i should forget about the dinner party and go directly to the ER but (after being redirected 3 times) the nurse said we could just treat it at home and gave us instructions as to what to buy and what to do.

i really need to rethink my onion luning technique. I have cut that shape many times (particularly for japanese dishes such as yakitori don and oyakodon) but obviously balancing a wedge of onion on its edge while slicing it is sheer madness. i guess i probably was lucky the last 10000 times.