At the risk of coming across as slightly pretentious, I’ve mentioned in other places that I’ve always wanted to start a catalogue of my life story to leave behind for future historians or something. I call this an internet time capsule, and this is my way of reaching out and saying hello to humans 300, 500, or thousands of years from now, if humanity lasts that long. Or the internet. I do believe in reincarnation to a degree (it’s not a very popular belief, especially in the Western world, but not unheard of either), so it’d be cool if one of my future selfs studied my current self in class one day. Hey, I can dream, huh?
An alternate, more pessimistic viewpoint that leads to the same conclusion is as follows. Everyone alive right now, as I am writing these words, will probably be dead in 110 years, tops. That includes me. But why do my memories have to die with me? The answer is, they don’t. I put them here, so they can live on in my stead, and this blog will hopefully be a window through which I can briefly touch future generations. To that end, while I’m okay with the current generation of humans reading this, you’re not really my target audience. The window is my target audience. The window of the house that is as far as my life will stretch, and the as yet undetermined and undefined future of humanity beyond it. I write so as to etch my small mark in history, in the hope that someone in the future sees it.
If you are reading this because I linked you the blog as a friend and you want to know more about me, there’s one main thing you have to know right away that might turn you off from ever speaking to me again, and that’s fine. I’ll put it up front so as not to waste your time — I’m a post-surgery transgendered MtF individual. It’s not something I bring up often, as I pretty much had to walk my own path here without much direct community support and I tend to be a rather private person. However, you’re in my private blog, where I am purposely putting most of my life on display. And so some of the posts, especially on this page, or when I talk about my past experiences elsewhere on the blog, are definitely going to be rainbow-coloured. If that will make you uncomfortable, then you should probably stop reading now. I have near-zero interest in debating my own identity or LGBTQ issues in general, and that goes for advocating for or against said issues. Nor am I, by and large, interested in counselling random people about their woes, unless they happen to be friends too. I just live my life as an observer and recorder, and do the things that I want to do, to the best of my own ability. And you definitely should too, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience or harm others.
Okay, preaching done! Thanks for sticking with me. 🙂 When all is said and done, I do believe I have had some cool life experiences that very few people have gone through, though I also believe this is true for many people in general no matter where they are from. I also want to write down everything because the further I drift away into the future, the more I feel I am losing the grasp on my past, both the painful and the special memories. But here’s some basic info about me before I start talking about my life.
Name (now): Jessica
Birthdate: Feb 25 1984, 6:14 am Singapore time (GMT+8)
Chinese Zodiac: Rat
Blood type: A+
Countries of Residence: Singapore (1984-1998), Canada (1999-2021+)
Immediate family: Dad (1953-), Mom (1957-), Sister (1988-), Brother (1993-)
Without further ado, here are what I consider to be the phases of my life! Each one has a brief blurb describing that phase of my life, and then a linked page where I actually write on thoughts about each phase, list as many precious memories as I can recall, as well as share photos, scans, and other artifacts that I can find. Some of them are going to be really long. No, who am I kidding. Every last page is going to be enormous!
Many of the links will have (local) by them, that’s a local datestamped copy of what the attached link is for the archives. This is to fill up Jah’s server in revenge for that one Minecraft incident 10 years ago.
I also expect to add bits and pieces to the subpages as I remember things to talk about. So I have added a changelog section here just to denote what new writings might be on this page since the last time you visited. The changelog is important because I will be making several “horizontal” passes across the Phases pages to add “layers” to them. For example, I might first go through and add everything about school and work, a second pass could then be about my transition and feelings as I cross-match events with my transition diary, and yet another pass might be me going through screenshots and listing things I experienced in games or anime, and a fourth pass could be adding photos and commenting on them, and examining (and reliving) how they match up with all the other events that took place in a certain Phase.
Apr 30 2021 – Tweaked Phase 1 page, making a bunch of pictures inline and adding some extra notes. Re-uploaded Artifact 004, the kindergarten certificate.
Apr 29 2021 – Added this changelog on the main page. Converted and slightly rewrote dropdown sections (so far just Phases 1 and 2) into separate linked pages instead. Added a section for Phase 0, as well as its blurb. Added 1 Google Maps link + local copy to Phase 1. Also added a section for Phase 13, but no blurb yet.
Feb 02 2021 – Added local backups of most of the external screenshots.
Jan 31 2021 – First draft of page released to Discord server. It had 12 Phases. Included short writeups on the Location, Memories, and Artifacts sections of Phase 2, and short blurbs for Phases 1 through 6. Dropdown format was used for each section.
Jan 17 2021 – This About Me page was outlined and started.
Phase 0: Pre-Birth (<0 years old) [??-Feb 1984]
The main reason I have this section is that I have scanned pictures of my mom and dad before they had me, their eldest child. I would like to eventually have a place to share those photos as well, so this is a somewhat placeholderish section that will eventually have a page linked off of it like all the others.
Also, if I ever remember anything about my past life, I can put it here. I don’t, though. I’m not that special.
Phase 1: Toddler (0-4 years old) [Feb 1984-Dec 1988]
There isn’t a whole lot I remember about this part of my life. Singapore herself is considered one large city, but is divided into many little residential town areas, and we lived in one of the western ones called Clementi for the first few years of my life. I am fairly sure we were in Yishun, a town in the north, before I was 5, as that’s when I started kindergarten there, and I do have a few lingering memories from that time period. My younger sister was born when I was 4, and she was born in Clementi, so we must have moved from Clementi to Yishun at some point between May and December 1988, but I have not found records of when this move exactly took place.
Phase 2: Kindergarten (5-6 years old) [Jan 1989-Dec 1990]
During this period of time, we lived in Yishun. My younger sister was born when I was 4, while we were in Clementi, but I’m not sure she has many memories of either Clementi, or our first (of two) Yishun homes. I attended Kindergarten 1 once I turned 5, and “graduated” from Kindergarten 2 three months before my 7th birthday. Both my parents were working during this time period, so I would stay with a babysitter after kindergarten every day until my parents came home.
Phase 3: Primary 1-3 (7-9 years old) [Jan 1991-Dec 1993]
My first primary school was Peiying Primary School. We moved from Yishun’s Block 799 to 723 during this time, so we were still in the same “town” nucleus within Singapore, and I didn’t change primary schools. Our home became fancier though, as it was an apartment block which consisted of two-storey maisonettes stacked on top of each other instead of one-storey apartments like normal apartment blocks. So for example, our address was Block 723, Yishun Street 71, unit #12-155 (local), and there was no 13th floor because the upper level of our apartment was basically the 13th floor. And the unit below us was #10-155, because the 11th floor was their upper level, and so on. Note that most Singapore apartment blocks, called HDB flats, generally have a void deck on the bottom level to allow air and foot traffic flow and the occasional shop, thus most of the time there are few or no houses on “floor 1”, and the lowest apartment units are usually on floor 2 instead. This was my school transit (local) during that time, and you can see how my travel distance to and from school basically quintupled, but was still quite short compared to what was to come.
My younger brother was born during this time, and he was born when we were living in Block 723, so while no one seems to remember when exactly we moved, it was likely either sometime mid-late in 1992 or early in 1993.
I was really good in school, at least this early on, and was always in the top 3 in my entire grade. More importantly, at the end of Primary 3, all students took a nationwide Gifted Education Programme (GEP) test designed to identify the students in the top 0.5% or so scholastically, who would then be pulled out of their current school (unless the parents objected) and moved to a special class in one of several schools. I did really well on this test, and was the only person from my entire school (I think for some time before and after as well) to qualify for the GEP. I was told later on in Primary 5 or 6 that I had actually scored the top score in the nation on the math portion of this Primary 3 GEP test. At the time that I qualified in 1993, and all the way until I left in 1999, there were only four schools out of the nine on that wikipedia page above that offered the GEP for primary schools — Anglo-Chinese Primary School. Nanyang Primary School, Raffles Girls’ Primary School, and Rosyth School. None of them were near Yishun! Still, my parents moved me to Rosyth, which was a mixed-gender school, for Primary 4.
There are two annotated maps here, and this segment of my life gets a bit confusing. This is the annotated map (original link) of when we lived at 799, for the first two years or so of my illustrious Primary School career. The blue bullseye is my apartment flat. You can see Peiying at the bottom, and a dark red line that was my path home. While I never stepped into Naval Base Secondary School, I remember passing by the front gate many, many times and looking at the older boys and girls there and wondering if I’d go there someday. Turns out nope.
The black boxes are areas that I knew fairly well — the immediate region around my home, the immediate region around the MRT station next to my home and a small area with shops there, as well as an NTUC Fairprice (sort of a small department store owned by the government) one street away. I remember the police station (local) on the right side of 798, and a sort of scary but mystical allure about it. I think my parents might have dragged me there once when I was making a fuss while out in public on the way home. The police station occasionally appears in my dreams but never as a visitable location, just as a landmark in the distance.
Ahem. Anyway, I also have fleeting memories of the orange circles — the ground floor houses and the drainage canal in front of Block 793 (local) on Google Street View brought back memories. I remember walking by and kicking pebbles into that thing. If I recall, the actual water flow in that canal was a small “stream” right down the center of the canal, with lots of cement on either side, so it was always a bit of a game to get the pebble into the water proper.
Further along, I don’t remember Block 782 except for one very notable occurrence — there was a Malay night market festival (called a pasarmalam) held either on the ground floor/void deck of that building (I think it was that building anyway!), or in an open area next to it, that I visited with Mom and Dad one night. This was pretty much the first time I was out at night, and there were many food/clothing/game stalls and bright lights and stuff there. No doubt this contributed to my love of night cities and Japanese festivals. It all gets traced back to this one night festival.
I’m not sure when or why we ever took the bus considering that we lived next to the train station, but I remember this bus stop (local) that was in front of Block 798 and between our house and the station. I remember taking the bus home with my parents one day and I pulled the stop request cord too quickly after the bus had started moving from the previous stop, and the bus driver screeched to a halt and hollered at me. Okay Gramps.
Come take a walk with me! Here (local) we have a shot where you can see the front of my HDB flat and the kopitiam I mentioned in the previous section at the end of the road. If we turn left and start walking, we get to this junction (local), which was a very important crossroad in my life. To the left is the side road leading to Naval Base Secondary School, and after that, Peiying Primary School. Slightly further ahead (local) is the traffic light that I crossed to get home. I was escorted home by a parent to start, but eventually either Mom or Auntie 795 would instead let me walk up the road and would wait for me on the other side of this junction and traffic light.
Heading back and travelling into the side road, we’ll be going down the dark red line on the annotated map. This (local) is the front gate of Naval Base Secondary School, which stood between my primary school and my home. I walked by this every weekday and I can confirm that I remember blue. Lots and lots of blue. I’m sure the buildings have gotten a facelift since I last walked by it, though. We then pass the side gate (local) of the secondary school, and come across this shop (local) on the left. This caused a flood of nostalgia. I am not sure I ever went in, maybe once or twice, but neither my allowance nor my freedom was very high back then, nor did it really have anything I remember wanting. Just walking by the shop was always comforting for some reason, though.
Past the secondary school and the shop, we come to the front gate of my primary school (local), Peiying. None of the buildings look familiar — this is actually a recurring theme we’ll see later on as well as development moves really quickly in Singapore and schools get renovated and upgraded all the time — but the blue uniforms are exactly the same, as well as the darker blue Phys Ed uniforms. Lastly, walking a little bit further on, we see a horde of people waiting by the side gate (local) of the school. The Google van must have fortuitously passed by right at the end of the school day, and that is a mad throng of parents and students that looks really familiar! I don’t think I would have remembered this if not for Google Street View though, but I do remember coming out of the gate and looking for Mom. I believe the reason that the side gate was more often used for parents picking up their children is that the classrooms were nearer to it than the front gate.
What is also interesting is what I don’t remember. I do not remember there being farms or research stations behind Peiying, but that area was pretty much beyond the edge of the world for me anyway. I also don’t remember the basketball court and field on the other side of Khatib Station, across the road. I guess we never really went that way. I don’t remember a water canal running by the train tracks and Avenue 2 either.
It gets worse when I go down the road toward our second Yishun home, at 723. This is the annotated map (original), and that’s all I remember of the region from when we moved in my late 2nd or early 3rd year of primary school, to until we moved away when I was in my 6th year. That’s shockingly little. The school move that I did definitely played a part into this, as it was so far that I always had a ride back, either from my dad or from a school bus. I remember snippets that involve taking the bus and train, but never for purpose of school, only for family trips, so they’re very dim. I didn’t really go out and play or walk around the area much either, I guess.
Anyway, continuing north up the road from my previous apartment, past Naval Base Secondary School on the left is a military base that I remember well, but obviously never stepped into or even really openly saw any soldiers training within. You can see it on the map, it’s huge and takes up the entire left side of the journey to 723 and is a complete fuzzy block to me, like the border of a region map in a game.
Heading north up the road, we get to these crossroads in between 799 and 723. This is a fairly memorable junction for me for two reasons — one because we could see it from the balcony of our 723 apartment, and the other because I dropped a dollar coin by the side of the road on the left side one day, because I was fumbling with my wallet while riding pillion on my father’s motorcycle. It’s somewhere around that jutting out red line on that annotated map. If you ever find that dollar coin, please return it to me, it annoys me a little to this day.
Sigh. Anyway, the dark red arrow on the map shows the direction that our apartment faced. I remember looking out from the balcony of our house and gawking at the amazing view from it, which was a vast improvement over our view in 799. If I stared hard enough at the road in the evening, I could even see my dad coming back home on his motorbike sometimes, and I would then go excitedly inform mom of that. If you travel a little bit further along the northern road, you can actually see our apartments by zooming in (local) as well. We were on the 12th floor, so it was specifically one of these apartments that was ours. I don’t remember which one, I just know it wasn’t a corner unit. You can see however that the balconies only appear every two levels, that’s because the second level without the balcony was the top floor of each maisonette/two-level apartment in the block. You can also see the block number, 723, painted vertically on the left.
Oddly though, nearly everything else from the crossroads on to our block is a fuzz. I know Dad’s usual route, when he was driving me home on his bike from either Peiying or Rosyth, took the left road from here, and we’d follow the blue path home. I do remember this turn (local), and these zigzag lines (local) on the road just after the turn. If I ignore the turn and continue west, I also remember this row of shops (local) existing, though the actual shops itself don’t look familiar. However, some of my dream worlds occasionally feature rows of shops near my dream residence, roughly a few streets away, and these shops might well be the inspiration for that.
Going back to the junction and turning in, I remember some schools on the left, as well as the two roads on the right (this one (local) and this one (local)) that turn in to the 723/724 area (they’re actually two ends of the same road that ring together in the back). That’s, however, where my memories end. For one, I don’t remember the name of the two schools outside those roads, even though I must have passed it every day — Yishun Secondary School is a generic enough name that that might have just slipped from my mind, but Jiemin Primary School rings no bell at all, and that is super weird. Neither does their school uniform. Yishun Innova Junior College, the school between 723 and the crossroads that I could see from the balcony, is apparently a merger between Yishun Junior College, which I do mostly remember (generic name though). and Innova Junior College, which I’ve never heard of. The buildings themselves don’t look familiar though, but I bet they’ve been developed and rebuilt a few times over the years anyway.
I do remember that I did take a school bus home to 723 one year, and that it was crowded because I was always pushing and jostling with people near the front of the bus as it looped around the 723-724 ring road, so this must have been the year, and the bus must have been a Peiying bus. It could not have been Rosyth just due to the sheer distance away that that school was — I did take the school bus home from there as well, but I would have been one of the last people on board the bus at that time. Due to this though, I seem to be missing a lot of memories around the actual area just because I never walked there often enough. I remember us taking the train to the two nearby MRT stations — N11 (Khatib) and N12 (Yishun), but I don’t recall how or what buses we took from those stations to get home the few times that we did.
Note: Singapore’s MRT system is really complex and keeps on getting expanded all the time. Note: At the time we lived there, Khatib and Yishun were the last two northern stations on the NS (north-south) line, but that was no longer the case by the time we left the country in 1999. If you want to read up more about the crazy expansions, you can probably try Wikipedia or this blog, but even today, 20 years or so later, the train network is completely unrecognizable to me as the number of stations has more than doubled.
There was also a shopping mall around the N12 (Yishun) station, called Northpoint. I remember we visited the mall occasionally, but looking at it and the surrounding region on Google Street View unnervingly gives me zero bells whatsoever, besides the actual station itself. Neither the outside nor the inside of the mall, nor any of the neighbourhoods around the mall, ring any sort of bell. My one endearing memory of Northpoint is that at one point they had set up a maze for children in the mall, and completing the maze within a certain period of time would net you a prize. The maze had doors that opened in one direction but couldn’t be opened from the other side. I’m not sure the maze was lose-able, but I tried it and did win a notepad, although my method for getting through the maze involved prying open one of the “one direction” doors with my fingers at one point and going the wrong way through that door, because it didn’t close properly. 🙂 I think I still have the notepad kicking around somewhere, and I will try to add it to the Artifacts section if I ever find it. But anyway, this neighbourhood doesn’t really ring a bell at all, not to the extent that 799 did anyway.
Phase 4: Primary 4-6 (10-12 years old) [Jan 1994-Dec 1996]
This is my Rosyth School era, my second primary school in Singapore. It was pretty far from our house, but as mentioned, I was attending this school because I had been selected for the Gifted Education Programme in Singapore, which ran from Primary 3 through Secondary 4 in Singapore. Rosyth had two classes of GEP students, and even though we were pulled from different schools from all around the country, we mostly gelled really quickly as friends. Rosyth was actually considered the weakest of the four GEP schools, as the other three were considered very prestigious schools. But we would generally hold our own in competitions and such, especially when it came to math, as we had some monsters amongst us (including me!).
In Primary 4, I started taking part in local and overseas math competitions, something that would become part of my school life all the way through Grade 12 in Canada. I wasn’t very good at most of my other studies though, especially Chinese, but I scraped along and I think the teachers put up with it and gave me more leeway than I deserved sometimes due to my math. I won some local competitions, and my most noteworthy achievement was being picked to represent Singapore in an Asian math competition, along with another classmate and two other people from one of the other GEP schools. The four of us were chaperoned by two teachers and flown over to Hong Kong for a few days to take part in a tournament there against various teams from Eastern and Southeastern Asia. And we won! We were in both the English and Chinese local newspapers and even on a brief interview on TV when we returned home.
During most of this time period, we were still living in Yishun, but we moved to Tampines at some point, estimated between March and June 1996. My sister had started studying in Peiying as well, but she was pulled out and moved to Yumin Primary School, in Tampines, in the middle of her second year as a result of this move. I remained in Rosyth for the rest of my Primary 6 year. At the end of Primary 6, all Singaporean students write an exam called the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). This test was for the four basic subjects (English, Math, Chinese, Science), was scored out of 300 points, and was then used as a benchmark by the schools to see which school you got into. I scored a 249, mostly pulled down due to my Chinese.
Phase 5: Secondary 1-2 (13-14 years old) [Jan 1997-Dec 1998]
A score of 249 on my PSLE wasn’t great. In fact, while I remained in the GEP, there were only four secondary schools that held GEP classes — Raffles Institution, Raffles Girls School, Anglo-Chinese Secondary School, and Dunman High School. Because us GEP students *had* to attend one of the four GEP schools, Dunman High ended up accepting us begrudgingly, and instead of being something that the school was proud of like in Rosyth, our two GEP classes there were always kind of looked down upon by the rest of the school and clubs, especially the non-GEP teachers and staff. But that was fine, Dunman High was actually my top choice anyway, as it was the only co-ed/mixed-gender school of the four, and most of my friends from Rosyth were planning on going there (or had to go there as the cutoff for the other three schools were really high).
By this point, we had moved to Tampines, and were living in Block 294, Tampines Street 22, unit #08-596. Our phone number changed to 7837110. I started to take the bus and train home by myself here. I continued doing well in math contests, placing second or so in the annual Singapore Math Olympiad at one point. A very important life event at this point happened in the summer of 1998, when one of my best friends at the time gave me Tigey, the white stuffed tiger whose portrait you can see as the thumbnail of this blog. He’s very important to me, and is sitting beside me right now, 23 years later, as I write this blog paragraph.
That was soon followed by another slightly larger life event, as at the end of 1998, my parents plucked up our family of 5 and migrated us from Singapore to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Phase 6: Grade 9 (14-15 years old) [Jan 1999-Aug 1999]
Although the Singapore school year runs from January to December, the Canadian school year basically runs from September to June. Furthermore, although Singaporean students switch schools after grades 6 (Primary 6), 10 (Secondary 4), and 12 (Pre-U 2), Canadian students switch after grades 6 (Elementary), 9 (Junior High), and 12 (High School). I was hoping that that would mean that I would get half a year to acclimatize before jumping back into school, since I had completed the equivalent of grade 8 and surely wouldn’t be asked to study half a year and then write the grade 9 exams for placement into high school, right?
No such luck! My parents researched some school and talked to the principal and math teacher there, and before I knew it they had dumped me into Vernon Barford Junior High for all of 5 months. I basically skipped half a year of studies here, and they even put me into the Advanced Placement program (I think — or whatever the equivalent program was in Vernon Barford at the time) there. Although this was a short period of time, I have plenty of thoughts on this new phase since we had just moved to Canada, and so it gets its own section.