The New Romance

Today I learnt something new: Many romanticize the idea of needing someone, as though one would wilt without the other. But this idea of dependency, I’ve grown to despise.

I’ve accomplished many things without my husband, while he watches on from afar. I think he hates the idea of dependency too. I have a great sense of achievement when things get completed, and I completed them, and hopefully I did a great job.

But the new romance is the idea that I don’t need my husband. It isn’t life or death that he has to be physically by my side all the time. It’s just that if I could choose, I would have him by my side. I would definitely prefer to share all my ups and downs with this man. If he isn’t there, it’s a pity and life sucks but I’ll get on with it. If he is, life rocks.

So I don’t think I’ll say “awww” at the sentence “I need you”. I miss you is great. I love you is better. I want to be with you is perfectly active.

I need you is just slightly pathetic. Isn’t it?

Time travel

Upon waking up after falling asleep on the couch, H and I shared this conversation.

I: Did I sleep long?

H: About 20 minutes maybe. What time is it?

I: 5 minutes to 2am.

H: Oh! That’s late.

I: No wait, 5 mins to 3am.

Thanks for robbing us an hour of sleep, daylight savings.

(But the truth is I’m thrilled to have an hour extra of daylight after work! :))

My Singaporean Salute to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew

I rave about this country I’m in. Germany is wonderful. I’ve great options here, I enjoy what I’m doing at work, the quality of life is amazing.

But above all, I enjoy telling people about Singapore. Or at least Singapore has made a name for itself – it’s Asian without being backward, successful without being corrupt, well structured without being boring, and a big city without the lack of green.

And I enjoy it. I find it extremely thrilling to tell people about the country I’m from. I call Berlin my home now, but Heimat is a different thing. Singapore is my Heimat.

I complain that living in Singapore is stressful and there are too many changes to feel nostalgic. But the moment our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew died, the pride I have of my country rose.

I grew up in a safe environment. Because English is my native language, it’s easy to go everywhere and learn new languages. I never worried about carrying too much valuables around, leaving my bags open, travelling around alone at night. My country grew and prospered because of the man’s vision. He brought us to this standard, and his sense of protection for this country is admirable.

I don’t strive to be a politician, so I don’t expect to fight as much as he did for our country. But I will tell my future kids about him. And I will strive to love my husband, the way he proudly and strongly loved his wife.

“Growing Up” in Germany

Sometimes I feel like Germany has moulded me in the past year and a half, although early mid-twenties hardly ever counted as the impressionable years. But indeed, the impressions are imprinted on me.

Right as I’m saying this, I’m struggling slightly to type quickly and accurately on my good old macbook. I’ve gotten used to the German keyboard since starting work.

I’ve become more careful with my manners. Back home, we don’t show appreciation or give thanks as much as the Germans. Now it becomes more natural to say that “I’m looking forward to it!” when arranging a meet-up with a friend. Or to say “it’s so nice to have met you!”

I’m also in the midst of creating a new habit. I’ve started trying to use people’s names when speaking. It could be a personal habit or an asian thing, but I’ve never been comfortable using people’s names. This is especially so for the older generation (I never call my aunties and uncles by their first names in Asia), but it also applies to the younger generation. But lately it’s becoming easier to say, “How’s it going, (name)?” and “(name), thank you for your help!”

I’ve learnt to look out for quality over quantity when purchasing, because Germans buy things with the aim of keeping it for a long time. I used to buy tons of flats for $20, so that I could switch among them, but the reason why I end up switching so much is because none of them last a season! I’ve become a little less stingy while shopping.

Most importantly, having the German language all around me, hearing it and speaking it all day isn’t as exhausting as it used to be. In the past, a two hour intense conversion in German is enough to kill me for the rest of the day. Now it’s like meh.

It’s interesting to be a foreigner and not really feel like one anymore. 🙂

Start-Up Snob

Apparently, since I started working this month, I’ve not only my ability to type normally on my macbook, with the regular international keyboard (I work on a German keyboard at work), I’ve also grown really fond with the start-up culture, and thereby becoming a snob.

My previous full-time employment was at a large company with over 15,000 employees worldwide, with a brand name everybody knows. My current company is officially about 2.5 years old and is projected to break even this summer. It’s very strange, very amusing but very fascinating. I thoroughly enjoy seeing increasing success just within these three weeks of being there!

H works at a huge company, so they have a budget for everything. While currently enjoying his two weeks off from accumulated overtime (Start-uppers be laughing at this), he told me about his dinner event with his department that would take place tonight.

H: So we can’t have dinner together tonight.

I: Oh ok. Hmm I feel like we haven’t cooked for a while. I miss cooking.

H: We’ll be cooking tonight.

I: Really? At a colleague’s place?

H: No, at a cooking studio.

I: (snortles) Big companies.

Am I right?!

2014

Here we are – 2015. This time last year, I’d never have imagined that I’d be curled up on the sofa in the Berlin apartment, alone, but with a wedding ring on my finger, home after a day’s work – all that a year later.

2014 was quite a big year. I started it off in Germany and ended it off in Germany. It’s the longest I’ve ever lived in another country. I suppose the semester in France now seems like such a baby step.

I did a fair bit of travelling in the last years. The number of countries, however, is starting to dwindle. 2014 saw me through Wittensee, Hamburg, Leipzig, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Nürnberg, Braunschweig. It also saw me through Manchester for a short weekend trip with a bureaucratic purpose, and Singapore for the summer, also partly for bureaucratic purposes.

I spent the good first half of the year going to language school, working at the cafe, freelance editing and job searching. I had my first assessment center experience. I made and lost friends. I struggled further with the language. I struggled keeping in contact with my family. I struggled finding my purpose here but I enjoyed life a lot.

Things took a surprise turn, when H proposed. It remains my happiest moment, and I can perfectly recreate that memory in my head, as we laid on the grass and enjoyed the sun, content.

I helped him move to Stuttgart shortly before we returned to Singapore to visit family and friends – the people I love and miss so much! H went back to Germany as I stayed on to miss the real World Cup fever, and did a short-term merchandising role at supermarkets. Developed a newfound respect for them.

Then I came back to Germany and shuffled between Stuttgart and Berlin. Finally, we married at the civil registry office, and what we had no expectations for, turned out to be amazing. H then went on to India and had an adventure, while I learnt to live with someone I didn’t know – what an experience that was. And when he returned, we returned to being newly weds.

I spent Christmas being ill, but was well enough to feast and unwrap presents happily on the eve. We also had an amazing New Year’s Eve – one that I truly thoroughly enjoyed, without having to ask H to translate everything that’s happening, one where I stopped feeling like a guest to this land.

2015 brings new challenges, but I’m excited for them.

Thank you 2014. You’ve been amazing.

The Happily Married Man

There’s something about a man who’s happy to tell people that he’s married.

And that his lovely wife is at home waiting for him.

And that despite countless tantrums and frustrations,

he still thinks it’s the best decision ever.

My heart is dancing.

Self-exclusion

On good days, I’m advising friends who are down to pick themselves up because nothing’s ever that bad.

On days like today, I wish time would just swiftly pass by.

I spent the first half of my day surrounded by people. My flatmate, her husband and her friend. I could decide whether I would try to be in the know of all private jokes and stories. I could laugh as hard as they would. But I chose to exclude myself. I sat in the corner and spoke when I was spoken to.

You see, after 3 months of being apart, I sort of don’t remember how exactly it feels to be with H. I know from memory that it is good. But how good? I’ve been excited to find out again.

I spent yesterday evening in the loving company of my flatmate and her husband. They were in constant mockery of each other, and I found that endearing. I missed having that person to do all these things with, make jokes that are fully understood, have your little weird traits be appreciated.

Then last night, I dreamt that H came home. And all the feelings came back. I remembered how good it was to see him again. And the alarm rang. Damn the alarm.

Now I’m left to sit in the empty apartment thinking about how empty this feels, without him. Being with company didn’t make me feel like participating. Being among strangers didn’t make me feel better. I wasn’t quite in the mood for much else, so I was happy to buy a frozen pizza to bake for dinner. I sort of just want to hide in my shell for a bit. At least just for today.

Maybe tomorrow will be better. If I return to dreaming of all other weird stuff except H.

Masterpiece

Yesterday H and I had a good long video chat. We haven’t had one of those in a long time, usually because the connection gets in the way.

Honestly, it was mostly one-way – I had a lot going on that day: two interviews, in person and via telephone. He listened patiently, intently and responsively. He was happy to see me excited. I was happy to elaborate on the nitty gritty details and see his responses to them. It was fun. I missed it. He’s my favourite person to talk to.

That evening, I was watching The Voice of Germany (I’m a big fan), when Jessie J came on and performed her new song “Masterpiece” with the hopefuls. I caught some lines of it and was already in love with the song, I searched them up. It was one of those songs that clicked instantly with me, because I felt exactly like this at this very point in my life. I would love to belt it out:

I still fall on my face sometimes
And I can’t colour inside the lines
‘Cause I’m perfectly incomplete
I’m still working on my masterpiece

And I, I wanna hang with the greats
Got a way to go, but it’s worth the wait
No, you haven’t seen the best of me
I’m still working on my masterpiece

And it made me realize that H makes me feel exactly the same way as this song. Even though it’s been a tiring journey, he believed from the start that I was working on my masterpiece, even way before I realized it. (Such a great feeling.) He believes any visionary leader would take me under his/her wing. He has hopes and dreams for me.

As I inch ever closer to starting my career here, I, too, started to have hopes and dreams for me too. I, too, believe that I can take anything that comes my way and make it great. I’m not going to give up and go home and whine about this place.

I’m going to kick some ass, you’ll see.

Ross and Rachel

Watching FRIENDS has become quite a ritual for my flatmate and me. I started right from where it all started. Season 1, episode 1. And now we’ve arrived at season 3.

Of course this meant that Ross and Rachel finally understood that they’re each other’s lobsters, but then in this episode, the unimaginable (but actually imaginable since I’ve watched it a million times already) happened: they broke up.

And it’s still a shock. I imagine being in her shoes and I don’t know what I would’ve done. It made me question everything.

You see, I kind of took Ross’s side most of the time, though nobody did. Even my flatmate (from India) said, “Is he a man from the 18th century?” when he didn’t understand why Rachel thought it’s best to keep him and work separate.

But I disagree. I don’t think he was crazy to be upset about her slipping away from him, because he didn’t know what was going on with her anymore. It’s understandable. I don’t need to be my partner’s colleague, but I’d still like to know what’s going on in my partner’s life, especially when work is going to be a huge part of it.

If my partner suggested a break, (cue history class) I would’ve also said that a break was a lead-in to a break up – it’s a symbol that one gave up and stopped giving enough crap about it. I would’ve thought that it was over too. I don’t believe in splitting up and getting back together because the fundamental need to want to break up in the first place was already there, and who’s to say it won’t be back again? Basically nobody in a strong relationship needs to break up during a fight.

But then Ross cheated, and that sucks. I can’t stand up for him anymore.

It’s a drunkard mistake, but I wouldn’t have been able to accept that mistake either. I don’t know if I’d ever forgive a cheater, and God forbid, I don’t ever have to face that dilemma. But why? How? What now?!

Ok, these characters affect me way too much.