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Challenge: write a post per week

This has the sole purpose of trying to make the weeks go faster. 😛 At the moment, there’s nothing to do but wait and make the most of this in-between period. I feel a little bit in a rut being in this limbo of sorts, but I know it’s also because of myself. I need to get back into my usual routines, hobbies and activities, and not spend most of my time counting down the days!

So here goes.

Currently: It’s the long weekend and S and I are spending it low-key. No big things, but we’ve agreed to go out for walks every day, get a handle on a whole bunch of admin things and relax after the busy-ness of the last few weeks.

Entertainment: I went to the cinema for the first time since the pandemic started. We watched “In the Heights“. Such a fun movie! It made me miss going to dance classes in person. I’ve only been doing digital classes and while those have their benefits, there’s really nothing like being in a studio with other people feeding off each others’ energy.

Shopping: I didn’t do a lot of shopping last year. Since I was working from home anyway and there wasn’t a lot of proper “going out”, I was happy to use what I already had. But with the move, I ended up throwing a lot of clothes/toiletries/etc. that had gone ratty or out of date. Thankfully there are end of fiscal year sales are going on now so there were some good deals around. Time to put a little bit more effort into my appearance (haha) now that things are opening up more.

Doggos: I’m now in the company of two very adorable dogs – Ron and Belle. Yes, my clothes now have a permanent blanket of dog hair but they and their little personalities bring so much joy to my every day. Ron likes to jump into my lap (even when I’m working from home) to demand pats while Belle is always hovering around while I’m eating, hoping for crumbs. (She is actually lying down beside me on the sofa as I type this.) I don’t know if S and I will get our own dogs in the future but for the moment we are enjoying the doggy love.

Winter: It’s officially winter and it’s cold. Will I ever get used to the cold, or is it impossible since I grew up mostly in a tropical country?

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No longer my place

As of around 11:45 AM yesterday, my unit is officially no longer mine.

I’m still in shock about how fast it all happened. Feels like I’d just sent a casual enquiry about how much my unit might potentially sell for if I put it on the market. I remember meeting with the real estate agent for the first time. He told me he could get photography early in the next week, the listing up on Thursday, and the first open home the Saturday after that.

I remember balking, overwhelmed at the prospect of putting my home up for sale so quickly. He said I could take my time, we didn’t have to move that fast. I said I’d think about it. But a few days, later I emailed him to go with his timeline of moving quickly.

He confidently stated he could sell it within 4-6 weeks.

It sold after the first open home.

Now the contract has been completed. We left the premises last Sunday. As of yesterday the new keys are in the buyer’s hands. It’s her home, now.

I wanted to have a proper moment before moving out. But things became hectic in the weeks leading up to the move. I kept saying that surely it’d be easy to move. After all, we were only in a 1 bedder. How wrong I was! (That being said, it’s a spacious 1 bedder at 90 sqm with plenty of storage space). It was insane how much stuff we had squirrelled away… S would cart off carloads, vanloads or a truckload of stuff and there would still be heaps of things left to be boxed and moved.

Our last official day there was anticlimactic. S had to work after moving a vanload early in the morning, so it was up to me and his parents to do the last bits of packing, moving and cleaning.

There was a bit left to do after that day, so I drove back to the unit, for the last time, early on Monday morning. I was by myself. I only had the mopping left, but it took over an hour to carry all of the remaining items to the car. Cleaning materials, the balcony hose, the BBQ cover that had been left behind, the Vornado, the last mug I had left so I could keep drinking from it.

I video-called my parents when I was about to leave, showing them the empty rooms.

I met with the real estate agent to hand over the keys 10 minutes before the buyer had her final inspection. I played with the thought of being there during the inspection. I was curious to see who had purchased my place. Was she like me when I was buying it 7 years ago, a young single woman moving out to live on her own for the first time? I wanted to gush about how I loved about living there and how I was sure she’d be happy, too.

I still remember my final inspection, come to think of it. The property was rented by a couple then. The guy was home during the inspection. As I scuttled around with my measuring tape, checking taps and flicking on lights on and off, I remember him saying: “You’ll be happy here.”

Yes, I was happy there. Seven years of my life, happiness and sadness and everything in between. I feel a little sad of course, but mostly happy. This was a good move. Onto the next chapter.

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On “lifestyle”

I’ve been thinking a lot about how important “lifestyle” has been to me. It was something I never really thought about because it was so easy to take for granted. But the past year or so have made me realise how lucky I am to be living this way.

I love living in an area where:

  • I get a fair amount of sun in my balcony where I can enjoy a cup of tea whilst doing my morning rituals.
  • I live close to a large riverside park and other walking tracks to other suburbs. (The park is popular with dog owners so have been giving pats when I can!)
  • My suburb is relatively quiet, but only a quick drive to major supermarkets and shopping centres.
  • There are good cafes that we can visit within 20-30 minutes of our leisurely weekend walks.
  • There is a small supermarket, medical centre, and chemist nearby.
  • I’m less than a 10 minute walk to the closest train station and ferry wharf and I can get to most places I need to quickly (or scenically).
  • It’s easily connected to major roads connecting to the rest of Sydney.

I’ve lived in multiple cities in several countries and I feel like I’ve had a few tastes of different lifestyles. There was living in an expat community on a man-made island in Japan; student housing in the US; a serviced apartment a stone’s throw from Orchard Road in Singapore; Manila suburbia; not to mention a few suburbs here in Australia before living where I am now.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that there is no one place in which to be happy. But there is something to be said about knowing what makes me happy, and finding a location which has the best chances of bringing about those things that make me happy.

So as we think about where we might end up in the future, I think I’d love to live in a place that is:

  • Relatively quiet. Living in a busy city is not my thing. All right for working or catching up with friends or going out, but not for coming home to.
  • Close to a park. My daily walks/runs in the park have been so good for my mental health this past year.
  • Walkable to some neighborhood cafes, and having amenities like a nearby chemist or medical centre would be great.
  • Good transport links. I like not having to drive my car everywhere.
  • Not a high-rise. Haha. I really can’t live in high-rise apartment buildings.
  • Near the water! Yes I’ve turned into one of those people who would actively choose to live beside water given the chance. Probably a river in my case, properties close to the beach are super expensive.

Obviously usual things like low crime rate / friendly neighbours / etc. apply.

It seems like such a simple list but sometimes it feels like a lot! I feel a bit sad knowing that we won’t be staying in the place we are now forever. But I also know, wherever we end up in the future, we will be fine. There are other good places out there. There always are.

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More than an old shirt

I like to consider myself – not quite minimalist – but intentional with the clothes I own. I usually wear my clothes over and over again until they’re ratty enough to be thrown out.

There’s usually no dramas there.

Lately, I’ve concluded that it’s time to throw out my “Red zone” shirt. It’s got numerous holes and the neckline looks like it’s been chewed by a small animal. But… still.

I got the shirt in 2008. I’d been in the US for around a month at that point, ready to start my Masters degree. It was the first football game of the school year, the first (and so far, only) football game I’d ever watched. One of my new friends had invited me to watch the game at the stadium.

I’m not much of a sports watching person, but how could I say no? So I went along. They were giving away free shirts to students, so we happily grabbed them as we went in.

I remember snippets of the game. I remember being in that massive stadium surrounded with the energy of several hundred (thousand?) other students. I remember desperately trying to make sense of what was happening on the field, jingling my keys when everyone else did. I remember the Stanford Tree and the Dollies.

It was a great start to what would end up being an amazing year (and a few months). Obviously, it wasn’t all roses – there were ups and downs as I struggled with homesickness and the stresses of grad school. But I look at that time fondly, over a decade on, and sometimes wish I could go back to that time. Isn’t that always the case, though?

Anyway. The shirt has always reminded me of that time, warts and all. I liked wearing it out and about as a nod to that time. It has “The Red Zone” across the chest, with “Stanford Cardinal” under the bottom. Not as in-your-face as shirts with a massive “STANFORD” emblazoned across the chest, but I liked the subtlety. And now it’s time for it to be chucked.

I’m actually wearing it right now, and when I take it off tonight, I think it needs to go in the bin, not the laundry hamper. I know it’s only a shirt, but ah! The memories.