My Diary #038

Dear Tigey,

Your Year of the Tiger is almost here, huh. Be nice to us when you ascend to Emperor of the Universe, okay?

Entry #038 (Jan 30 2022)

Table of Contents

Reviewing my…
ට  School
ට  Work
ට  Life
ට  Games
ට  Plushie of the Week #36
ට  Song of the Week #13
ට  Memory Snippet of the Week #20
ට  Dreams

School

Only one school-related thing of interest actually happened this week, and that’s that I missed my deadline for applying for the Fall 2022 exchange (Jan 26th).

Oops.

Thankfully it was just a soft internal deadline, and I had already started the application itself, but hadn’t completed it due to the uncertainty of waiting for the NUS reply (see last week’s blog), plus the uncertainty of where the application fee, which was supposed to be transferred over from last year’s app, was going to be applied to. At any rate it was just a soft deadline, so the coordinator reopened my app and I finished the pre-screening questions. I don’t actually know why I have to do this part again, things like a letter of intent to study abroad and a financial and grades check which I already passed last year, but whatever. The coordinator accepted it.

Work

This week was a slower week at work again, partially because I’m taking Monday and Tuesday off next week, and so Thursday and Friday were more or less used to clean up the queue. Why take Mon and Tues off? This is because the early part of the year tends to have a dearth of long weekends, and Chinese New Year, while not a statutory holiday, is right there for the taking, so it’s more efficient to use it around this time of year and let me recharge from and catch up on classes and other things too. I don’t take it off every year, nor do I usually take my birthday (Feb 25) off every year either, but I *still* have so much banked vacation time after my USA trip and my departure might or might not be coming up “soon”, so I might as well start using some of it.

The coworker who is taking care of the queue is leaving for a week next week as well, after I return, so I’ll be taking over that thing again while he’s gone, and that should be fun. Our department’s Service Desk (our Tier 1 analyst group who mans the central IT phones and several other critical things and are woefully underappreciated and underpaid by the department heads) is also detaching from our department and moving to a central Shared Services unit, which no one is really happy about (to the point even their team leader is stepping down and moving to an analyst role elsewhere in the department so she can stay with us, or at least that’s the narrative I’m reading into that move), and everyone’s dreading how tickets will be handled from now on since a majority of them are still quite new and asking us honestly rather dreadful questions every day that they should be able to handle themselves. (They more or less might lose the ability to talk directly to us the way they can right now after the move though, which will be even worse.) I think some of us are worried that our team will become the defacto Tier 1 issues team too, if we lose them and that gets removed from their job duties over at their new centralized department.

Life

This week is Chinese New Year! Well sort of. It officially lands on Feb 1st and 2nd, I guess, and technically goes on for 15 days or so starting from the first day, and the first two days are considered the most important days and the days that you visit your (extended) family on, but yet celebrations sometimes can start a couple weeks to a month before the day, but seldom last more than after the 15th day or so, and in fact nearly nothing happens at all between the 3rd and the 14th day, and… argh, it’s confusing, but Happy Chinese New Year!

This year, I went to my parents’ place for a steamboat dinner, which is basically our Singapore (and other places) way of saying hotpot, cooked on the kitchen table. I haven’t had a true hotpot since the year before we left Singapore, in 1998, so this was quite an event! Apparently my parents are also looking to move in a few months (due to noisy neighbours, and the current location being inconvenient in general, I think) so this was likely my one and only trip to the house. CNY is generally a time for reunion dinners, and this was ours, we barely meet up as a family anymore and hadn’t all been together in one place for a couple years now.

That basically overshadowed everything else that happened this week. Two things really struck me when I was there, one was how far south the apartment actually was (it was about as far south as you could go and still claim to be part of Edmonton), and the second was how much Dad had aged since the last time I saw him, and compared to my mental pictures of him from before I moved out. Despite his complaints about losing hair, he still had a healthy head of hair though, though it was now basically snowy-white. But he talked about eye problems and such that he had been having and it made me wish I could do something for him, and then shared an anecdote about how the Goddess of Mercy (Kwanyin) medium that we had visited as a family many times while in Singapore had predicted his eye problems in the past over 40 years ago, and how he was now legally blind and had the documentation to support it. I also found out he was partially colourblind — I had no idea all these years. He looked so fragile. I decided I wanted to start a (private) interview thing with him weekly to try to catalogue some of his stories and history and record his voice down for future generations while I can.

While at the house, I took photos of the place, did profile pictures for all the plushies we had in a box there, looked for (but didn’t manage to gather more than a promise to find) some missing photos that were not in the family photo box that I had scanned, and also wanted to sat the family down to interrogate them on the context of many of the photos in our albums that we had, so that future generations of the family could understand the context behind some of the photos that we have in our collection, but we ran out of time for that. So I just gave them the password to the account with the photos and told them i’d make a spreadsheet for it sometime (I already started on this spreadsheet but there’s lots to fill in still.) Also, we ate a lot. This happened on Saturday, right on top of some of my prime blog-writing time, so this blog entry ended up being a bit rushed. But in return, here are some of the food pictures:

They also gave me one of the free Covid test kits that they had, which was nice, since I still haven’t been able to get my hands on any of those — the Safeway pharmacy I visit is chronically out of stock and they just brush me off whenever I go there to ask. I did at least finally pick up some KN95 masks though (since my current one is a cloth mask that allegedly doesn’t work so well against Omicron.

Other than that, this week was a week of appointment-making. I cancelled my apartment lease cancellation and will be signing a 6-month extension next week to take me to the next study abroad deadline in Fall, and I also made appointments to see my doctor the week after next for a followup/checkup/to ask her some questions, as well as possibly for a phone repair next week to get rid of some wounds that my Pixel 5 picked up somewhere along the way on my USA trip. That last one isn’t confirmed though, partly because it’s expensive and partly because the weather next week is bad again, so that plus my disgust at the cost and inconvenience of the repair locations in the city might just make me cancel/postpone it again. Maybe I should just look out for a deal and trade in the phone for a new Pixel 6 or a Samsung.

I walked to the Chinese supermarket on Friday this week to get some ingredients for the steamboat dinner on Saturday, and I took the opportunity to break out the ol’ video camera again, since I wanted to test how it did in low-temperature weather. The lower temperature bound for the camera’s usage is supposed to be around 0°C, and the temperature on Friday hovered around the -2 to -3°C mark, but it still seemed to work fine, especially with my grip warming up the middle of the camera stick. It’s boring, but you can also watch the walk below to see what winter conditions in the middle of Canada can be like (It hadn’t snowed for a couple days and was leftover snow + some sand/mud for traction + some slippery ice in places, but I had good shoes on. It would have been very different if there was fresh snow on the ground (easy to walk) or if it had recently gone above freezing and then dipped again (slippery as heck)). It was also a test of the 60 fps setting on the camera instead of the usual 30. I was really worried about going over to my parents’ and spreading the virus to them or something from my Asian supermarket trip though, even though I have absolutely no symptoms.

Someone on the WhatsApp chat for my old Dunman High group that I joined in November, linked a video interview and article this week that featured one of my former classmates — he apparently works as a historian and museum curator now, which is right along one of my future career paths that I hope to travel along, so that’s super cool. I’m a little jealous. Just a little. I remember him as being fun-loving and goofy and also a very nice person who never got angry at anything, and it’s super interesting to see what all my friends and former classmates have been up to and have grown up into now. I always thought he’d end up working as a national news reporter, actually, for some reason. I’m definitely going to quietly visit that museum if or when I get to go visit Singapore again.

Huihan also contacted me this week, to cap off my pretty great week, and she keeps apologizing for not emailing me more often and I don’t know how to tell her that it’s perfectly ok and that I’m very happy whenever she does find time to reply, like the couple other Singapore friends who still send me chats or mails. I mean, like it’s been pointed out, I made them wait 20 years before replying to them. She did write about some things in last week’s blog though so she must have browsed through them, so hello!

Games

To keep the Chinese New Year food theme going, I revisited some old phone games this week, first a bit of Bistro Heroes:

I think the game is made by the same devs as A Girl Adrift, which I’ve also played a little bit of. But I find the gameplay of this one to be kind of lacking, although the characters are fun, so I bounced off it again before the week was up. Then I looked for some Chinese mythology-ish games and peeked at something called Heroes of Mythic Might, but I found out upon loading in to the game that I already had a prior account in the game so I must have played and dumped it some time ago, although I had no memory of it. I decided another idle gacha game was pointless though, so I decided to trust my previous incarnation’s judgement and moved on as well.

My journeys then took me to a game called Life in Adventure, which plays like a Choose Your Own Adventure game with a multitude of random encounters and stat/luck-based dice rolls that you face on your career as an adventurer, and a glossary of items and monsters and different epilogues to collect in your lorebook that spans all your combined adventures. It was fairly interesting, but I didn’t really have the urge to continue on after beating the game on my second try, if beating the game consists of simply reaching the end of your adventures without dying and achieving one of the good endings. I was honoured by the elves or something for helping them fight off some encroaching human pioneers over the course of my adventures, even though I think I was a human myself.

I did wonder about looking away from the cesspool of free games and taking a closer look at the paid games section of the Google Play Store, in particular taking advantage of a free trial to the Google Play subscription service that they seem to be offering me, in order to check out some actual games that don’t artificially gate you by time, tempt you with gacha rolls and lootboxes, or inundate you with pointless ads for their competitors. I haven’t signed up for this yet, but I might at some point when I feel that I have more time.

On PC, most of the week was spent playing Genshin again, since their Chinese New Year event started:

FLYING LANTERNS!! It’s really pretty. I was also really impressed with the CNY quest, which basically takes you and some of your ingame NPC friends around Liyue, the Chinese-y zone, talking to all the demigods in a scene that was really reminiscent of the real life Chinese New Year tradition of visiting one’s extended family during the holiday. The game has such excellent writing and atmosphere. The cursed RNG gacha and long levelling grind though.

To commemmorate CNY, I also changed the voiceover dub from Japanese to Chinese, and I fell in love with Paimon’s Chinese VA. I wish we could mix voiceovers between different languages so some of the characters speak one from language dub pool and other characters speak from another. I suppose no game that I know of lets you do that, but that would be a really cool future game feature.

On Steam, I largely dabbled in a couple games I already had installed — firstly, Space Haven, where I fought off a pirate attack where they sent three boarders to attack my ship of four, and I now have three surrendered pirates on my ship that are just permanently standing there in the way and my crew (and I) are not sure what to do with them — whether to jettison them or try to formally take them as prisoners. But I don’t have the facilities to support them… and it’s also so unrealistic that they’re just standing like statues where I defeated them, and their parent ship just flew off without them. Very weird game. Will they hate me if I jettison them out the airlock? Will my crew become depressed? Or is this the pirates’ ultimate plan, foisting three more people on me so I have to build rooms for them with material I don’t have, so that they can slowly drain my food resources to zero and kill me that way?

Then there was Time Break Chronicles, where I promptly, and in an apropos fashion, recruited a pirate character… the main gameplay loop plays like Slay the Spire (or similar games) with Tactical RPG battles instead of card games on a branching and converging path that ultimately leads to a boss at the end of the sector, but I feel like it’s missing a little oomph of some sort, though I can’t quite place what. Maybe it’s that all the enemies are so darn damage spongey. The progression of the characters, character quests, and town upgrade system are nice though. But I find it hard to play much of it in one sitting.

Lastly, there was Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story, which sounds like a game that would interest me on paper, but the game itself is just really lacklustre, with a very barebones management segment and an ugly adventure segment with a mediocre map builder and control system, at least early on. It also seems like the last achievement might still be broken, and it’s been a couple years with no fix for that.

The Steam Lunar New Year sale is on, along with similar Lunar New Year sales from other storefronts, and that caused me to take a look at a few games on my wishlist and in general to see if anything would catch my eye, but not much did. I might pick up Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya, which missed the cut last sale because I picked up another Touhou game, but we’ll see. I wish there was a curated list and better selection in general of Chinese-themed games on Steam though. It seems a lot of the games on sale are actually Japanese games for some reason.

I also have been thinking about finally biting on a VR set and game, specifically with an eye to play Beat Saber with all the anime songs that I love. And there are many other good games to play on the VR platform of course. I don’t know much about actual VR headsets though, other than that PSVR won’t work for this because custom songs are only available on, I believe, the PC-linked headsets (Vive, Rift, Index, etc) and the Oculus Quest, but not the Playstation VR one and possibly a couple other types due to an inability to downgrade the version or sideload custom apps or something something. They’re all really expensive though, except for the Quest 2, and I’m not sure I have room for too complex of a set up if I have to hook up things all over my living room if I go for one of the more complex ones. Jah played a VR game on Jah Stream Night this week though, and even though it was a terrible experience to watch as a viewer, it did re-kindle the interest for VR in me, though it also brought up the worry that I might buy all that and then find that too many games instill vertigo in me too quickly for me to enjoy them, or that I can’t adapt to it with glasses on (contact lenses are a non-starter, I refuse.) The Quest 2 might be a good and cheap-ish starting “first entry point” to the VR world for me though, and it’s really tempting. Not just for the novelty and exercise and all that, but also the experience.

Plushie of the Week #36 – Ally

I finally went to the family house this weekend to get snapshots of all our other childhood plushies, and because this is Chinese New Year weekend and the ascent of the Year of the Tiger is upon us, Tigey demanded that we feature his girlfriend plushie this week. Note that this is largely a one-sided relationship, unless you consider Ally to be a huge tsundere. Tigey loves Ally, but Ally hates Tigey and would rather go snuggle up with Orson, who I will probably feature next week.

Ally is an alicorn, and her name is sometimes spelled Aly as well. She was a gift to my sister from what she thinks were her late junior high days or early high school days, so around 2003-2004. We have an important set of plushie catelogue pictures from May 15 2003 that do NOT feature Ally, so she was most likely acquired after that point, but no one is sure exactly when. It was likely right afterwards though, possibly around Christmas or my sister’s next birthday, since Ally is very much ingrained into the main core of plushies as one of the plushies that we got fairly early on into the Canada portion of our lives.

She came attached to a photo frame, as part of a gift set, but was soon spun off to be the actual gift from the set, as the frame was never really used (that I remembered) and most likely discarded at some point during a move. And paradoxically, since I didn’t move out with her, I never had any photographs of her until yesterday (Jan 29 2022), since we seem to be lacking family photos between when we took these photos in May 2003 and when I moved out in August 2011. I took Ally back home with me yesterday though, and although she isn’t too happy about that, it’s better than being cooped up in a box, and Tigey is over the moon for her anyway. Ally seems to like Orson better though, and is glad that he also came along with me back to my house, although as I understand it she doesn’t hate Tigey per se. Tigey turns into a simpering tiger cub before her, though, and tries his best to impress her and give her gifts.

While Ducky is a spellbook-based arcane magician/wizard, Ally is our divine-based priestess/cleric, and she had a decent arsenal of spells at her disposal as well, that contained both beneficial spells (like Heal!, during which she touched her horn to something or someone and yelled Heal! to heal their injuries, and I believe she had a Bless spell as well), as well as harmful spells (like Zap!, which she used on Tigey more than a few times). That never deterred Tigey though, and Ally sits at #1 on Tigey‘s overall ranking list of everything in the universe. (note: for slightly more context on this, see the Additional Memories note at the bottom of the Tigey writeup, linked above.)

Here are pictures of Ally as of yesterday. Front (blurry):

Back:

Tail:

Upside down/horn:

Tigey being possessive yesterday:

And more from today. Front:

Front with bridle lowered:

Tigey being possessive today:

It would be nice to find a picture of the original picture frame with alicorn attached sometime, but I doubt that still exists as an item being sold anywhere. She could literally be the last surviving alicorn in the world from her original stock.

Song of the Week #13

Title: Our House
Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Album: Déjà Vu (1970)

In keeping with the family/food theme yet again, this song is one with a very strong but specific connotation for me, that of sitting at the kitchen table in our Yishun 799 house, which we lived in from around 1987 to 1993 (and to a lesser extent, the one in our Tampines 294 house, 1996-1998). The kitchen table was where three main things happened for me in a pre-internet world — one was doing homework and revising/studying, the second was listening to the radio play the latest hits or the golden oldies, and the last was eating lunch or dinner. Once we reached Canada, the kitchen table became Kellie’s hangout, and also became a place from which one could sit and watch TV from, and I moved out into the hall and the computer table instead. But when I was young, that was my hangout and safe harbour where I spent a lot of my free time at home.

In this case, the song reminds me of all three, but the third memory in particular — I remember Mom‘s dinner and the rice with meat, vegetables, and soup trifecta that she’d make for our dinner most evenings. Some vegetables and soups I’d hate, but most I’d like, and she’d even make my absolute favourite, fried French beans, most Friday evenings. Friday chye, or Friday vegetable, as we called it. (chye, or chai, is the Hokkien word for vegetable, probably derived from the same place as the Chinese word 菜, or cài)

The slow, melodic song reminds me of her homemade cooking, especially her vegetables, and I can see myself, a little pipsqueak, seated at the table with sheets of newspaper laid out before me. Sometimes with siblings in the picture too. And then our plates of rice (with meat/veggie pre-placed) and separate bowls of soup placed before us as the song blared out over the large stereo radio on the kitchen table beside us. We’d call/invite our parents to eat as per family tradition (Dinner, Mom! Dinner, Dad!), like the Chinese (or Singapore? Or maybe just us?) version of the Japanese itadakimasu, and then tuck in without a care in the world. The rice plate first, then soup.

In later times, especially once I was old enough to understand things, and even more after I moved out, this anthem also represented how quietly thankful I was that our family was perfectly normal and functional and not broken up or otherwise fractured with hate or dislike. though we’ve had our share of arguments and fights and cooling off periods. We’re close even now, which is extremely important to me, and I do think any of us would do anything within our power to help anyone else in the immediate family without hesitation. I also do realize that there are many people and families in the world that cannot say that, and so I am very thankful for that, especially as everyone grows older

If there’s anything I dislike about this song, .it’s the lack of an Oxford comma between Nash and Young. All joking aside, this song would probably sit somewhere just inside or just outside my top 100, it’s not THAT beloved of a song, but it sure has nice connotations attached to it.

Memory Snippet of the Week #20

No pictures this week, but in honour of Chinese New Year, my memory snippet this week will be briefly talking about what our family used to do around this time of year. As mentioned in previous articles, our extended family back home was VERY big, easily over 50+ people if everyone came together, and Chinese New Year was the one time of the year where we more or less DID come together as a family, although I don’t think everyone was ever really all there at once. I couldn’t really tell though, I knew many of the people at the meetups but not everyone, and I certainly often could not tell who was missing at my age.

I don’t have much memories of these meetups when I was a baby or toddler, though they certainly must have happened too and I was probably the center of attraction then since I was a great and cute baby. Or so I tell myself. I do remember meetups once I got older, all the way until our last one in 1998, the year that we left for Canada. Chinese New Year in Singapore is a two-day school holiday and statutory (I think, or at least governmental) holiday as well, and as far as I could tell, many or most people with the typical Chinese family nucleus spent both days out either visiting their family, or hosting visitors, depending on their role within the family. That being said, since most family units had two extended families to visit, the father/husband’s side and the mother/wife’s side, there was always some picking and choosing and negotiating what to do, and for us at least, we always spent the first day visiting our Dad‘s side of the family, with the really large extended family, and the second day visiting Mom‘s side of the family, which was a lot smaller and really only involved 2 or 3 house visits at most.

For both sides though, there would be specific (older) relatives that we would visit for an hour, maybe two — we’d travel as a family of 5 via taxi, train, or in a relative’s car, end up at the relatives’ house, and Dad and Mom would sit down with them to chat and catch up on things while us kids poked around the house, amused ourselves with whatever games they had, ate some Chinese New Year baked goodies (local) or sweets (local), and sometimes played with the kids of other relatives as well. For other people in the extended family were also making rounds to the stay-at-home relatives, especially on the first day, and so we’d hear “Ayyyy!” noises from the adults as some other relatives stopped by the specific house we were in by happenstance and met Dad and Mom there.

Anyway, the first day of CNY would start with us kids waking up in the morning, and grabbing two or four mandarin oranges from the fridge each to give to our parents. Two per parent, one in each hand, though we likely reused some of the oranges afterwards. It was a traditional gesture of giving luck and fortune though, and it would be reciprocated by Mom and Dad giving us red packets (called ang baos) with money in them in thanks, and reciprocally wishing us fortune and health in the upcoming year. We would then have a bit of breakfast, dress up, and get ready to leave the house well before noon.

Once we left the house, we usually ended up visiting oh.. 5-6 houses/apartments or so, I think. We would leave in the morning and spend an hour or so at each place. I don’t really remember much about these locations any longer, just vague feelings and the occasional photograph of houses that looked like they might have been places that we visited at one point. The most important points of order at each house, of course, was that we would firstly give mandarin oranges to the adults of the house upon arrival, and get red packets in return as well. We seriously would walk away with about 20 red packets of money per year. Each. We would then chew on whatever snacks they had laid out for visitors in red snack boxes, ranging from the wonderful pineapple tarts to the terrible dried prunes, and then wander off to play among ourselves in a side room while the adults talked adulty things. I also remember one of the relatives’ houses having a Sega game system and that being our only exposure to Sonic the Hedgehog games, although I can’t remember if that was on the paternal or maternal side of things.

This would repeat across all the houses that we visited. We would then end off the evening at Grandma’s house for a reunion dinner — this was Dad‘s mother’s apartment in Bishan, where grandma (Ah Ma), grandpa (Ah Kong), and their youngest son (he was still much older than I was!) still stayed at the time. That apartment was tiny, but very familiar to me, and over the course of the evening, easily 30-40 people or so would trickle in and arrive and sit around on sofas and chairs or help out in the kitchen. At least that’s the impression I had, maybe it just felt more crowded than it actually was. We kids usually occupied the main bedroom and kept ourselves amused in there — there were several of us, but I don’t remember how many exactly. The apartment was on the second or third level and next to the stairs leading down to the ground floor, so it was quick and easy to go downstairs to the void deck for a walk as well if desired.

After a certain threshold was reached, it would be dinner time! We would have a steamboat dinner, like we did yesterday, except that the hotpot bowl we used was the type with the round chimney in the middle, rather than the half-moon one from the picture above in the Life section. It was charcoal-powered too, which left a smell that I liked a lot. They kept a bag of charcoal in the kitchen, as I recall. The tables would be dragged out from the kitchen into the main room, but since there was no way to have 30+ people all eating at once at a table, we would take turns to eat — us kids would eat first, possibly in one round or possibly in two separate rounds by age or by family, and then my dad’s generation would eat, possibly in two separate rounds as well. I’m not sure when Ah Ma and Ah Kong ate, they were probably served separately since I believe they were the only two of their generation that were ever at those reunion dinners (and while they helped prepare the food and entertain the guests, they were also sort of the guests of honour. I wonder who paid for all the food each year?). And once everyone was done, we would head home.

Outside of the specific CNY steamboat meal, one dish that I associate with my Ah Ma a lot is a dish consisting of a whole fish, grilled (I think) and then drenched in some sort of soya-like sauce and little chillies. I can still taste and smell the dish and remember cutting the fish from a central bowl and scooping it onto my rice as we sat by the kitchen window and had our meal. To me, that was Ah Ma, our paternal grandmother’s, signature dish. And it was sooo good. Gas-powered stoves (though not really electric stoves) were a thing by this time in the late 90s, although I don’t remember if their oven was actually gas-powered or charcoal-powered. However, I think Ah Ma had a small pot (it looked like a large chamberpot, actually) in the kitchen that she could burn charcoal in and put a grille on top of, and I seem to recall that she cooked the fish on this contraption, so it was actually charcoal-grilled fish that we always had and that tasted so wonderful.

The second day was more of the same, but a lot quieter, as we would visit our mom’s relatives, which numbered considerably fewer. There were a couple relatives that we would visit in the morning, but I didn’t really know them well, although there was a teenage girl named Yanling who was a relative (unsure if cousin or niece) around my age who I always admired, and was always a bit jealous of, because she got to wear gorgeous cheongsams on these visits. I always hoped to catch sight of her on our visits but we didn’t see her every year.

We would then visit Mom‘s sister, who was our defacto maternal grandmother, and her sister’s children, who were also much older than us and who themselves had children that were around our ages. We would end up in Queenstown, in the apartment where my Mom‘s sister (Yi Yi) and her husband (Yi Tiew) lived, and wait until everyone arrived in the evening to have a much smaller, much more intimate dinner with about maybe 10 of us or so in total. I think some other relatives likely visited on the first evening and thus were never there on the second evening when we went. Dinner here was usually vermicelli-style noodles, I think, though I might be remembering wrongly.

Outside of whatever specific CNY meal we had, I remember loving her noodles with chopped vegetables and a chilli and soya sauce mix that she made that left a sharp taste in my throat. She would serve the noodles in a large white porcelain pot with flowers on it and a glass lid on top. She also had a certain type of porridge with vegetables that was really easy to eat and that I also adored, as well as a macaroni soup dish that I really enjoyed. I believe Mom occasionally made at least the latter two dishes as well. Those were the food dishes that I associated with Yi Yi, our maternal grandmother, though, and they were also, to repeat myself, sooo good!

That was the extent of Chinese New Year’s celebrations for us. The city had parades and city-wide celebrations of course, as Chinese people made up about 70-75% of Singapore’s population, but we never went to those since we were already so busy with the number of relatives that we had to visit on those two days. The 3rd day onwards was back to class for us all, assuming it wasn’t the weekend.

Dreams
Jan 25 2022
  • My dream involved an RPG dungeon that took place at work, which somehow tied into two things at the same time — my recently completed gender transition, as well as a volunteering stint that one of the executive assistants at work was looking for people for, for a two week event celebrating the new dungeon.
  • The dungeon itself was located one level above the main office floor (3rd floor) that we worked on, and at one point there was a large well-like balcony that I could peer over and see some workmates below having a catered lunch at. One of the rooms in the dungeon involved the ninja turtles — two of them appeared out of one tunnel and headed toward a sewer grate exit on the other end of the room, and a little bit later the other two appeared through another door and also headed toward the same exit. My party engaged the second set of two turtles in combat and they suddenly ran around the room once they got to 15% health, so I instructed my party to hold off on finishing them off. They came to a stop below a large cupboard set in the ceiling, and it flew open and dropped a whole pile of loot on us (there were gems the size of apples and other similar treasure, and a few pieces dropped down the well into the office room below). The turtles then disappeared into thin air after triggering this secret treasure collection.
  • There were also washrooms, one male and one female, inside the dungeon that we were on, and I knew that the organizers of the dungeon had set it up so that the first three people to use specific washroom stalls would find unique artifacts in them that no one else would be able to have. I didn’t want them however as they were somewhat useless, and also because I had clairvoyance and was nearby enough that I read the minds of the organizers as they placed the artifacts there, so I felt it was cheating if I just took them anyway.
  • The volunteering stint was a flashback to a couple weeks before that dungeon run, and involved welcoming people to the dungeon, and the exec assistant setting them up was mainly looking for people to fill in the next week/first full week, particularly Monday to Thursday, as those were the days that she would not be around. She already had a sign up sheet with at least one person in every day besides Thursday though, plus this was during a January that I also had finals in, so I decided to pass. In this segment of the dream I was in my pre-transition body, so I didn’t exactly want to have anything to do with the office people as well as they were unaware of my upcoming transition in a couple weeks. However, I did find a pile of newsletters and booklets commemmorating my office from back then, with pictures and articles and other things that I decided to take home to scan and upload on my blog.
  • One of the people taking part in the catered meal was up next, and he had apparently forgotten all about his volunteering stint at 10:30 or 11:30 until about 5 minutes before the event, so he was looking for someone he could give the rest of his meal to.
  • There was also someone who was moving away from the office because his parents had moved to a nearby Japanese city to the northwest for work purposes, and so he had to transfer schools/jobs yet again. We were sorry to see him go but I didn’t know him that well anyway, even though I feel like he was someone from either one of my previous RL schools or jobs.
Jan 26 2022
  • I had a dream that was entitled the Great Race, the words were in my mind when I woke up even though I don’t think it was actually used in the dream and it isn’t the best description of what happened.
  • It started off with me viewing or controlling Kellie from a top-down view, with her starting on the second floor of an apartment and having to escape from zombies. The zombies were also in the apartment, and once she got out of there, there were more outside as well. I met up with her at some point around there, but they were specifically after her, not me.
  • We escaped and headed for a specific house in the neighbourhood, owned by a jovial zombie dad (with his own zombie family) who was friendly with us and who possessed a green shield that could shield Kellie from the zombies. He used it on her, and they couldn’t attack her while the shield was active.
  • Zombie mafia then arrived and tried to negotiate for the friendly zombie to hand my sister over. We were hiding in the house at this point to conceal our presence from them, and I had also gone invisible for extra protection. He went into the house to stall for time, beckoned us over, and then asked for our 4012 house’s address — he was going to say that we had escaped while they were talking outside, and was going to take the mafia to that house and say that we would probably go there to get supplies on our way out so it would be a good place to lay an ambush. I didn’t fully trust him at first but he assured me that we could take supplies from his house instead and escaped. We agreed.
  • He set off with most of the mafia zombies in cars while I transformed into an invisible spider and hung out on the wall, watching them leave. There were about 30 of them in all that he took with him. There were still a few lazy zombie girls that were part of the mafia group now lounging around the place, so we knew our actual escape would eventually be reported, but we would at least get a good head start.
  • I summoned/commandeered a couple of vehicles for our escape, a bicycle for our supplies as well as a faster and slightly larger bicycle (like a motorcycle without the actual motor part) for the two of us, with me driving and Kellie riding pillion behind me. I asked her if she could ride the other bicycle so it would be easier to move along but she said no.
  • But that was fine — I could mentally control either bike, or both at once, and steer them along the roads, the only problem was that one was faster than the other, so various parts of the journey involved me trying to keep both vehicles in sync even though one was faster than the other, and I had to constantly swap around what I was controlling for this. At several traffic lights during our journey I even purposely had one vehicle delay a bit while the other one cut in front of it, to make it look like both vehicles were being controlled by different people and interacting with each other’s presence, just in case anyone was watching us closely.
  • Anyway, our journey from the house took up the rest of my dream. The house was on the southern side of the city, and we were heading toward the airport on the northwest side, but it was rush hour, and many of the roads had traffic jams, so it took forever to actually get anywhere. There were highways that would let us get there faster, but that was most likely being watched by the mafia, so I wanted to stick to the actual local roads in order to blend in. (plus the zombie mafia was too busy and important to risk getting stuck in gridlock.)
  • At one point, we were moving particularly slowly because there were four museums in a city block area and Kellie insisted on stopping by them so she could visit them and read the inscriptions on their displays. This cost us a couple days, but I didn’t mind as that would confuse the mafia even more, and we were really safe as long as we were in there and weren’t moving. However, I asked her again if she would be able to ride the bike so we could save time on the rest of the journey, and she said no, she could not.
  • The dream ended shortly after that, as we continued on north and passed by some residential streets in the central-north side of the city. There were busy roads running north-to-south to the east and west of us, but i surmised that those were more likely to be watched, and so we stuck to the quieter neighbourhood grid of streets between the two busy thoroughfares as we headed north.
Jan 27 2022
  • A large part of the dream had to do with recruitment at work, and how we recruited a few new people for our team. Daniel was one of them, he came to us from another team at work and “skipped” one step on the usual promotion path or something, which irked a few people that he jumped over, but the boss said that they should have applied if they wanted the role.
  • Our team at work was actually a sports-related team on a field though. I don’t remember the sport but it feels like baseball, but without the base-running, and with some sort of accountant role that was in charge of pulling out money and handing it out. An exhibition match was played at some point, with my boss ending off saying that he couldn’t wait for the season to end and the next year to start so that we could get our hands on one of the players on the team we were playing against, who had also applied and won a spot on our team.
  • I also had a flash forward to a situation in the future when I had resigned and moved on, but was unable to find a new job after doing whatever I needed to do, and meeting my boss again and asking him if there was a temporary role on the team that they wanted to hire me for during the busy period of the year.
Jan 28 2022
  • I was lying down in bed on a mattress on the floor, trying to fall asleep in a room that looked exactly the same as my current apartment. In particular, I couldn’t see the front door from where my mattress was because there was a wall in the way, with one passage going around the right side of the wall through the kitchen to the front door, and another passage going around the left side of the wall, past my bedroom and the washroom, to the front door.
  • Anyway, while it was modeled after my apartment, I knew that I was on holiday and thus my time zones were a bit off from other people. It was past midnight where I was, but the people downstairs were still awake, and I heard some strange noises coming from downstairs, and then heard someone down there open their front curtains, before turning on a television.
  • I listened to the television for a while — a game show was on and there was a host asking questions of the contestants. Even though I could not see the TV show, I could hear enough to be able to follow along with what was happening and even answer some questions.
  • I pulled up my phone to look at Discord and saw Jah and Kynji chatting to each other in our main Discord server. I also looked at private messages and saw Seren active in the chat that the two of us shared with Satinel, although it was late at night and Satinel was asleep. Seren showed me a picture of her own room, the lights were off but there was a sort of dark light that allowed me to make out everything in the room anyway, and from the angle of her shot I could see her feet at the foot of the bed, and then the see the TV on the far side of the room, as well as a door.
  • I started to type to her that I really wished I had someone come together with me on my trip, as I was scared, but about two words into my sentence, I heard a key being shoved into my front door and the lock turning. I jumped out of bed, going “Hello? Hello? Hello?”, but there was no reply. I started to circle around the right side of the wall, toward the kitchen, but before I could see who was there, the shock woke me up in real life.
Jan 30 2022
  • Spring in Japan. The season of fresh starts, sakura flowers, and scams. A mutual male friend introduced me and a girl friend of mine to a thing on campus where we could go into a room and have really cool baths, there was an actual shower bath in the corner but the entire large room itself was fitted with shower heads that rained down nice, soothing jets of rain. We were told that we could use it if we agreed to help out with a collection quest for 6 items, that were all located within the shower area, which apparently spanned more than just the room that we were in. There was a set of two identical items, another set of three identical items, and one single item to collect.
  • One of the skills that many people or everyone had in the dream world was a Hide skill, which could be used to turn invisible exactly where you were standing and could be triggered/refreshed every 10 seconds or so, but could not be used when moving. At one point earlier in the story we were Hidden in a series of rooms while exploring a set of rooms and we weren’t sure if guys were hidden in there watching us — I Hid in a doorway of a dark room and crouched down so if anyone with slightly better version of stealth that could let them walk around while hidden there bumped into me, we’d both become visible but I would have the advantage on him because he’d see nothing directly in front of him and would probably miss with his first attack, while I could hit him from down below. At the same time my girl friend searched another room across for me to make sure it was empty. It turned out all the rooms around us in that scenario were empty, but we were definitely still wary about the possibility of hidden people all through this University scene.
  • Anyway, we were suspicious about this entire new venture and figured that there’d be guys hiding in the shower area somewhere watching us girls shower, but the jets of water everywhere disproved that — even though it was a large room, every corner was covered by the gentle shower and there was no way that someone could be hiding in the area without being revealed by the water. It was very high-tech and felt great, and the room aesthetically looked quite wonderful and elegant as well.
  • So we stripped down and started to enjoy the shower. The entrance door locked behind us, and the guy friend remained outside. There were tiled glass windows that we could look out of, but that were apparently more or less one way mirrors only, from outside it just seemed like a blur. We could see people walking by, and it was all both a bit thrilling and a bit embarrassing, but hey, we were alone.
  • While keeping his eyes averted, the mutual friend outside told us using some sort of virtual communication system that not only was this entire room a shower room, but if we went around the corner we would see a slope down to another room that was also part of the shower room system, and that our first item was down in the next room. He told us where it was, and we found the first item, one of the pair of two items, exactly where he said it was. We saw that the entire area looked like a parking garage, with circular rooms that curved around a central staircase like ramp system and double doors that partitioned the rooms into smaller rooms, and they were all part of this glorious bath system.
  • We continued exploring the area together while butt naked, since it was just the two of us here and we weren’t concerned about each other seeing us. We continued checking for other hidden people as well but found none, however we did find some doors leading out of and in to the bath areas, and were a bit concerned about this. Going further down, we found the set of three items hidden in separate places around the lower bath area, as well as the single item, but we could not find the last item, the second piece of the pair, for the life of us.
  • Eventually, we wandered up to what I thought was the starting room again, but was actually one level below the starting room, half a level below the room with the initial item of the pair. We couldn’t go any further as there was a locked door, but we remembered that there was also an exit door and there was an area outside that was a safe changing room place that we could dry ourselves up in, so we went out through that exit door into another room where we found towels, but not our clothes.
  • This was when I realized we were one floor down still, and that that locked door was probably a one way door that we had gone through without realizing at first. The change room itself too was not quite safe, there were a couple doors leading into there and a guy wandered in at some point, then wandered out the other door again on his way to class — he didn’t see us only because we both used Hide to conceal ourselves in a corner.
  • Once he was gone, I decided that we’d also need to wrap ourselves up in towels and race out and up the stairs to get back to the ladies’ change room where our clothes were. This room was probably actually the coed shower room, and the shower area we were in was a mixed gender shower room area that just happened to be empty. The reason that there was that locked door leading up from the first couple levels was thus that that was the ladies’ only area and it prevented guys from going up that way. It also prevented us from returning though once we accidentally went through.
  • We raced out of the room and around the corridors toward the stairs. It was quite the run, and I told the other girl to follow closely behind me so I could help partially conceal her from other people who sometimes ignored us and sometimes stared at us. I said that I didn’t care because it was no different then walking around the University gym area in swimsuits, which I had done before during our swimming lessons a couple years ago in real life while traversing between the University pools. Or to put it another way, it was no worse than a post-onsen scene in a run-of-the-mill ecchi anime.
  • This was a lot longer of a run though, so it was actually a bit embarrassing, compounded by the fact that I kept on gently burping and could not stop it, and had no idea why. The burps were low and rumbly and drawn out, but didn’t really affect our scurrying, nor did they themselves seem to attract any more attention than us scantily-clad girls running through the halls, so I just ignored it. I tailgated behind a couple people that seemed to be moving in the direction of the stairs that we needed to use as well, and we hurried on that way.
  • At one point, another girl in a group of people that we passed stopped short upon seeing us, stared at the girl friend I was with, and called out to her with a “Jie?”, or 姐, Chinese for “big sister”. They weren’t actually related, it was a term of endearment between friends, but they apparently knew each other and had a somewhat awkward and brief meet and greet with no explanations before my friend hurried off after me again.
  • Eventually we raced up the stairs, round two more corners, and got back to the changing room where our clothes were. We dressed up and could turn off the showers from here either, and my burping stopped once I got dressed again. I realized that the burps actually controlled some sort of floating camera system that had been following me around, specifically a viewing angle setting that would have given anyone connecting to the camera different viewpoints of my cloth-wrapped body, that changed each time I burped, but I had no idea if anyone had actually connected to the camera and used it while it was active. Probably. Whatever. It either deactivated when we arrived back at that room, or at least didn’t matter anymore once we were clothed.
  • After dressing up, we went back into the shower room, now with the jets off, to look and see what happened. We actually found the sixth item in the same room as the first one that the guy friend had showed us, he had neglected to mention that there was another item in that room and had implied without actually saying so that all the other items were down below past the next door, which was the one way door leading into the co-op bathing area. It was implied that he knew what he was doing, and that that was the scam part of the entire venture, to get us into a situation where we’d have to run around in revealing outfits for a bit. We collected the sixth item and finished our quests, which released us from actually having to pay for the shower room service and actually allowed us to use the room again in the future for free.
  • Nonetheless, we both weren’t too happy about the entire ordeal but figured we came out okay from it in the end. The opening line of this dream segment came to mind though, and was still fresh in my mind when I awoke from the dream shortly after this, so that became the first thing I wrote down.

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