想笑就笑,想哭就哭

梦醒般发觉人生也不过如此,这样也跌跌撞撞地过了四分之一。过往好多歉疚没能安心的处理所以好几次跟自己过意不去。最近又和要好的朋友闹翻后,以一句 ”我们把这件事忘了吧” 和好如初。经不起考验的友谊或爱情又何必留着当废墟品?虽然平淡有平淡的美,可是能让你整夜安不了心的事也有它的精彩。也许人生的无奈在于太安心所以生活无聊没意义。我也该谢谢周边让我无奈的一切。

记忆中自己好像坚强许多,没那么常自责而顾虑的少很多。好久以前,曾为琐碎事物伤心难过,而如今不再放在心里的人与事真的好多。遗憾是难免的- 后来选择离开才不会留下更多不美好的记忆。但如果尝试挽救,后果一百八十度转变也有可能。人非神仙,我也只能后知后觉。

曾以凡事都是生命的考题来对待生活,我学了很多也发现自己逐渐把本子关上,不依赖课本步行生命之陆。完美而正确的答案不重要,也根本不存在。

“人生短短几十年,不要给自己留下什么遗憾,想笑就笑,想哭就哭,该爱的时候就去爱,无谓压抑自己。”

你啊,不能永远败在寻找完美的答案。

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

An Uber Encounter, An Epiphany

The probability of ever getting a ride on the same cab with the same driver in Singapore, within a month, is approximately less than 5%, assuming 15 rides per month and official statistics as of August 2015: the current fleet of taxis in SG being 28,404, with 2 or 3 shift-based cabbies are tied to a vehicle (~70,000 drivers), and P(n,k)=1−(n!/n^k(nk)!).

Don’t quote me on that. Math was never my strong point. Plus the statistics of which is not important to the story I’m about to tell.

Couple of nights ago: 4:35am 

I start my workday at the wee hours of morning, at the end of a typical graveyard shift. As always, I book a cab from  Uber or GrabTaxi, with the former being my preferred app, right before stepping out from the door. The driver was already waiting for me  at the sheltered drop-off. When I get in, he says: “Hello. Remember me? I drove you. Last last week.”

He’s a bespectacled Malay man in his 50s. Although he does not smile or look me in the eye as he revs up the car, his verbal acknowledgement was already a nice gesture.

“Yea I remember!” But honestly I don’t.

“You know how I remember? I see same pickup address, you also going to Central, and I see your Dad – downstairs to see you off, just like last time. I think to myself – same one!”

I laugh. That’s right. Uber drivers between 2 – 5am in my residential area revolved around the same handful anyway. It’s no surprise he’s driven me twice.

“Why you go to work so early? F&B?”

And so goes the long explanation of why despite working in a corporate office, I’m part of a team of shift-work warriors.

The cabbie laughs at this point, says “You must be earning more than usual la. This kind of timing you work, so hard, how you sleep in the afternoon?”

And we go back and forth with ways we both try to stay awake. His shifts are from 4ish in the morning to 3pm. The conversation shifted to his daughter who works at the DNATA, Changi Airport, who’s shift only ends a little past midnight. By the time she reaches home, it’s usually 2am.

“You see, your father come downstairs send you to work. Very sweet of him. I also, want to send my daughter to work, but no chance la. We difference shift. Everyday only see her 1 or 2 hours, if I wake up early, otherwise, don’t even see her.”

“Do you send her home sometimes?”

“No la, airport provide transport. She la, follow my footsteps. I also work at airport DNATA for 20 over years before becoming a taxi driver. She always wanted to work at airport. Her choice la. Want to spend time with her, I wake up 3 hours earlier to eat with her. She supper I breakfast. Sometimes I wake up, she too tired, she just sleep. Cannot spend time together.”

And then it dawned on me: perhaps dad just wants to spend a little more time with me. When I was a stewardess and even now as an analyst working on shifts, Dad makes the effort to get out of bed at the most insane timings, whenever it’s dark and creepy outside, just so he could (a) help me with my hugeass luggage, (b) make sure I don’t get attacked by stray dogs in my hood, (c) prevent me getting kidnapped, even though I’m physically more able to drop-kick somebody in comparison to my Dad, and (d) take down the taxi car-plate, remember the taxi driver’s face and flash cabbies the ‘nobody-messes-with-my-daughter’ face, in case somehow I do end up missing. Perhaps it’s all of the above, and a very simple fact that he just wishes to spend a little time with me.

For 2 years, I was never chatty while waiting for my taxi. I was always anxious to report for flight. Usually I’d taken too long to pack/makeup/paint my nails/eat or just plain procrastinated till the last minute. Sometimes, being the headstrong independent person I tend to be, I got impatient and insisted on rolling the luggage by myself as I am very used to carrying my own luggage. But thinking back, there was never a time I was left alone to wait for taxis by my own, in the dead of the night. My almost 70-year-old Dad waits with me.

It’s crazy how lucky I am for this little sacrifices (of sleep and time) from my loved ones. I’d taken these acts for granted., thinking Dad would always be my ‘cab companion’, so instead of talking to him, I’m usually too tired and grouchy to speak, having been disrupted from a healthy night’s sleep. Maybe another time. Just like how the cabbie’s daughter falls asleep thinking that there’d always be another supper with her daddy, when her dad has already woken up prepared to spend time with her. But what I often forget, is that just like how the cabbie sacrifices his sleep to see his daughter, Dad wakes up in the middle of the night to see me off too.

Often we don’t get the luxury of the same chances, over and over again. And because I do, I’ve been really blessed.

Amazing how a simple chat with an Uber driver could bring such clarity.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

P.S. On a side note, I was in Bangkok for a short getaway last week, and instead of hailing cabs off the street, I used UberX for all of my solo transport needs. Guess what? Each trip (albeit only within central Bangkok) amounted to about 50-90THB, which was SGD$2 – 5. I literally grabbed UberXs every single time, even for short distances from Nana’s Place to Terminal 21, or even though I could have taken the metro. Spoilt for choice!

[DIARY] GOODBYE SINGAPORE AIRLINES

Singapore Airlines - SQ Girl

Ending my career as a stewardess was perhaps the best decision I’ve made this year. Letting go of this comfort zone I had (unfortunately) sunk into for the past 2 years involved lots of anxiety, doubt, and inevitable thoughts of missing the globetrotting lifestyle. Nevertheless I made my decision quickly and set my heart for the big change when the opportunity to work as a media analyst came. There were spurts of excitement and also joy at finally stepping into an industry I might actually have a genuine interest in.

“You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It wont happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.”
― Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential

Mixed feelings aside, one must always look ahead and move on in life. Thinking back, it was a whirlwind of fun & adventure being a cabin crew at one of the world’s ‘best airlines”. Work was hard, schedules could be crazy, rosters were sometimes bad, and there were months I went without meeting friends outside of the airlines industry… BUT I don’t and will never regret these two+ years with SIA. This insightful journey was exhilarating, at times excruciating, and came with many lessons to be learnt.

Things I already miss:

1. Job title: FLIGHT STEWARDESS.
Onboard, I’ve been called by many other names: Miss, Li, Darling, Sweetheart, Eh, Excuse Me, Hello, Auntie, Jiejie, and nonverbal gestures such passengers pulling my kebaya or waving their hands wildly in the air to get my attention.

singapore girl crew

2. The Singapore Girl hairdo.
Despite the strict grooming guide, there are as many variations as there are flight stewardesses in SIA. Seniority (on first impression) is based on the height of your hump (that height-enhancing bump on your head, derived from resemblances to camel humps). I actually miss this fuss-free chignon – when I mean fuss-free I refer to not having hair all over my face, not time taken to prepare.

SIA girl

3. Quintessentially, HEAVY DUTY MAKEUP.
For long flights we can wear them up to 18 hrs (14hr flight time + 2hr reporting time + 1 hr preparation at home + 1hr travelling from airport to hotel after touchdown). The worst thing is: falling asleep without removing them! This is why I grew so unaccustomed to my own bare face.

4. PARIS. LONDON. ZURICH. GREECE.
Oh the places you’ll go, without ever having to take any work home. Once we touchdown at the destination, HOLA FREEDOM until the wake-up call for your next flight sector. I’m happy to say I’ve touched all corners of the earth that SIA goes to, and have them all Instagram-Mapped.

EIFFEL TOWER PARIS TRAVEL BLOG sia

5. Hotels
Every flight was somewhat a vacay. Stepping into a freshly-laundered room with a hot bath and clean sheet (though sometimes tiny/musky-smelling less-than-4-star closet of a hotel room) after a tiring flight is the best feeling ever. Hence the perpetual reluctance to check out.

hongkong hotel

6. Hotel room selfies. Ha.

hotel room selfie

7. Living out of a suitcase – bursting or not, that bitch needs to be closed. It’s a woe for many stewardesses especially on long-haul.

bursting luggage

 

8. Coffee in the morning, coffee in the noon and coffee any time of day, because jet lag demands to be fed with caffeine. Truth is, I can drink 2 shots and still sleep for forever.

I need coffee

 

9. “Bragging Rights”
Friend, at dinner: “So what did you have for breakfast this morning?”
Me, casually: “Injeolmi Bingsoo from this place in Hongdae, Korea.”
Trust me, I am not bragging. Just stating the facts, you asked for it.
Breakfast in another time zone, lunch 35000 feet in the skies, and dinner in Singapore.

korea bingsoo bingsu

 

10. The skies. And the familiar wings we see from our crew seats when we look out from the windows. The one below was taken out flying out from Singapore Changi Airport. The following three were taken enroute Houston from Moscow, so you can see Greenland.

planes skies blue greenland skies greenland from the sky

 

11. Behind-the-scenes Crazy
Well, stewardesses have all the fun…when you’re sleeping and we’re trying to stay awake on a red-eye flight. Oh…and these girls!! Cutest and sweetest little darlings ever.
sia stewardess

12. Coming home.
The word ‘home’ takes on a whole new meaning, when it’s all you’re thinking of the moment you set foot on an aircraft bound for foreign territories.

A little over a month, people still ask if I miss flying. Well if you’ve been at it for 2 years, day in day out, you’re bound to feel a sense of loss. As it is for any kind of job and lifestyle. The only thing I actually really started to miss were the chirpy greetings I received from passengers when I greet them upon coming aboard, the genuine thank yous upon rendering assistance wherever I could, the adrenaline rush when we had a ton of duties we needed to complete and the eventual sweat-wiping relief when it’s all over. And the camaraderie over the years with a few colleagues. When we donned our kebaya, we were told to ‘smile at anything that moves’ – we would hold doors and lifts for people, greet people we don’t know, and talk to people we’ve never met – all without garnering weird looks. Try holding a door for someone in Singapore – you might get ‘thank you’ with an awkward look at best, or even ignored for your effort. Smile at a stranger, and be labelled a psycho. Greet someone in the lift, and end up taking the lift up alone. A well-mannered bunch we as stewards and stewardesses are – after all we are in the service industry. But we don’t always get the same respect and treatment in or out of the uniform.

Also, I was exposed to many kinds of teamwork & leadership (through observations, not actual leading), plus gained a kind of worldly experience that isn’t of the bragging sort. There’s never an end to how much of the world we can see. From big metropolitan cities with world-class airports to less-developed rural areas where drinking tap water gave me gastroenteritis for weeks, and where small girls on the streets wanted to take photos with a group of us just because our skin colour was different from theirs – they’ve never seen fair-skinned people in their lives.

I became a stewardess for the freedom, experience and a change of lifestyle. I never regretted, even as I was dying to leave the job. The job gave me loads of reasons to look back and smile. You’re meant to live your life in your 20s before youth slips away!

Once a Singapore Girl, Always a Singapore Girl. I still feel nostalgic at an SIA ad, or when I see an SIA aircraft landing or see ex-colleagues at the airport heading for flight or just coming back home.

singapore girl SIA kebaya

 

Well, this is goodbye! I’ve clipped my wings and started a new chapter in life.

xoxo,

Viktoria Jean

Crudeness of Art

“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”
– George Bernard Shaw

On close inspection undepicted in the pictures, passers-by have scribbled crass comments below the masterpieces. Which I could not understand. Which drove me senseless. An approval of ribaldry? Or a subversion of the fact ordinary humans cannot accept the salacious or risqué unless relegated to the artistic, stripped of life and existence. Is crudeness of reality really unbearable? Or have we been using art as a means of informally embracing the uncouth, while self-righteously, audaciously hating on all that is deemed offensive and lewd, just so we could appear respectable.

If art is where we truly become ourselves, then is it not reality?

So with all due respect to George Bernard Shaw, the crudeness of art makes the world bearable.

Frankfurt Art 1

Frankfurt Art 3

Frankfurt Art 2

As seen in a beautiful park in Frankfurt Germany. A lovely place, otherwise graffiti-ed to no end. But still lovely.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take

A meeting, a perfume launch, and an after-work HappyHour at Words Worth — all these on my only day home this week!

Loving what I do because I could be spending the entire day in bed with my truckload of books, but if I’m not filling up my days and making sure I’m dead beat by the end of the night, I feel underworked and downright lazy.

Come to think of it, I’m turning 23.

Working has made me feel that age is nothing but numbers, cuz nobody ever takes that into consideration. Being too young or too old doesn’t give you any excuse not to be at optimum efficiency. It’s so strange for me to be the youngest most of the time, yet nobody treats me like a kid. And I appreciate not being treated like I can’t handle myself plus 250 people.

Today I had this strong epiphany while doing up my chignon – that is, my hair is not growing faster than usual. Rather, time is flying day after day without my conscious awareness that it has slipped me by. Didn’t I just transform my long hair into a bob a coupla months ago?

How many more days can I still tell my colleagues “I’m turning 23”?

I just know that when it’s time for me to say “I’m turning 25”, I want to be a hell lot of a better person than I am now. And as always, no regrets.

 

“My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing,
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.” 
― Edna St. Vincent Millay

Book Review: The State We’re In

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Publisher: Headline Review
Date Published: 4th July 2013
My Ratings: 7 / 10
Average Goodreads Ratings: 3.9 / 5

SYNOPSIS:
What are the odds that the stranger sitting next to you on a plane is destined to change your life? Especially when they appear to be your opposite in every way.

She’s a life-long optimist, looking for her soul mate in every man she meets; he’s a resolute cynic – cruel experience has taught him never to put his faith in anyone.

People can surprise you. In the time it takes to fly from London to Chicago, each finds something in the other that they didn’t even realise they needed.

Their pasts are such that they can never make one another happy and it’s when they get off the plane, that their true journey begins…

REVIEW:
At times, Joanna (Jo) Russell’s naivety gets on my nerves. She attempts to salvage a youthful mistake of ditching a fiance at the altar, by flying 300miles to wreck his upcoming wedding. That simply shows how much of a tragically hopeful romantic she is. I hated her less when she’s simply unhinged and having fun, while not harbouring thoughts of how romantic love is the one thing that should determine how you run your career and life.

The story runs beautifully. We see a parallel story running side-by-side, an almost continuation of the affair that never was. On one hand Eddie Taylor at his bedside and the son that he had left 29 years ago, Dean, flies over to bid him hello and farewell, but leaves for his house in Chicago in a fit of anger when he discovers that it was not Eddie who had asked to see him, but the meddlesome nurse who felt sorry that no next-of-kin was holding the dying man’s hand. On the other hand, delusional Jo Russell leaves her parent’s house and flies to Chicago to stop her ex-fiance – Martin’s – wedding, determined that the letter of invitation was a cry for help, and that Martin was pleading with her to not hold her peace. Somehow, she was inclined to believe that she had to take him away from his current bride-to-be. That Martin was the One.

I mean, who in their right state of mind still believes in the One?

Fate, or whatever forces that be, dictated that Dean and Jo were to spend 10 hours in the pressured tube bound for Chicago in the Club Class. The moments of emotional upheaval that they shared were rather less physically intimate than usually required for Dean to feel for anybody, but in rare cases more fictional like this, Dean cared for the delusional 35-year-old.

The forces that be also created a tragic interweaving of their histories. The father that Dean came to abhor happened to have left Dean, his mother and sister, 29 years ago, for the woman that happened to be Jo Russell’s mother – Clara Russell. And in a dramatic irony, Jo finds out that her ideal picture of what family had been and should be, was destroyed by a single phone call revealing that after decades of marriage, her mom was leaving her dad for a dying man – Eddie Taylor.  And that her dad was actually gay.

What?

That much was revealed in the span of this novel which had moments of epiphany that tugged at my heartstrings, despite the loathing I felt for Jo Russell at certain points where she was behaving less than half her age. How thoughtless and selfish a woman past her 30s can be really got on my nerves.

Dean, however, made a huge impression with his touch of sensitivity. His genuine care and concern filled up the void left blank by absent members of his family. He was the true hero of the book, taking baby steps in placing trust upon people and learning to commit like nobody in his life had ever shown his before.

The part where he was beginning to fall in love with Jo got a bit unrealistic and unconvincing, though. It was clear that girls were throwing themselves at his feet – cleavage, cellphone numbers and all – yet Jo was all he had on his mind after a mere 10 hours in the air. And Jo was being such a selfish, self-obsessed and indulged woman. Perhaps the oxygen up there is insufficient indeed.

However towards the end I grew to love Jo Russell. There was a reason behind her first-hand account while everyone else’s stories were written by the third-person. Here’s where the spoiler comes: Dean and Jo doesn’t end up together. Jo marries somebody else, and the little epilogue is simultaneously the saddest and the most heart-warming bit in the entire novel. The moment we’ve all been holding our breaths for – Dean and Jo were each other’s love of their lives but for reasons only explained in the book (ask me personally cos I don’t wish to spoil the book for you) they don’t end up together, ever.

Amidst the interweaving tales of marriage, relationships and families – broken or not – lies the keen reminder that nobody is perfect. Perfection should not be expected of anybody. And that forgiveness, big or small, is the hardest yet most essential part of any human relationship.
This is one piece of thoughtful contemporary literature that I would recommend to lovers of Jodi Picoult or even Jill Mansell and Kristin Hannah.

If ‘The State We’re in’ were to be made a movie…
Joanna Russell: Isla Fisher (Bring back the Shopaholic, please!)
Opening Ceremony And 'The Great Gatsby' Premiere - The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Dean Taylor: Hugh Dancy
HughDancy5-hugh-dancy-227919_1331_1056

Eddie Taylor: Sean Bean
sean

Clara Russell: Christie Brinkley
chrisbrink

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xoxo Viktoria Jean

Writing Prompt: Mint

Describe the taste of mint, without using the words blue, green, cool or fresh.
No, you can’t use “minty” either. — Sarah Selecky

You place it gently at the tip of your tongue, slowly wrapping it in a fold, delivering it into the moist cave between your lips as you clench your teeth shut. You close your eyes to savor the first burst of sharp flavor and here comes your first thought – it tastes like the sea on the cusp of summer’s noon.
Its circular body is flipped through and through, crashing against the banks of your teeth like a pebble in restless tides, chipping away each time it hits the shores. Alongside the summer heat, it glows with a force. It is a piece of invitation – come to the sea where it is cold, and I will melt the heat away.

At its peak, it throbs with torridity, fighting with a fervor to be scorchingly cold.

At the close of the day it is chipped to its core, releasing feeble spurt of tangy tremor as the setting sun retreats.
Its purpose dutifully served, it fades to nothingness.

xoxo viktoriajean

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Turn around, bright eyes

A year ago, I plucked up the courage to go for a job interview. Too much unhappiness and batshit craziness was going on, and I wanted fresh air, a change of life when I could no longer see myself carrying on in that way. I went without any expectations, knowing I wouldn’t be so hard-up even if they reject me at some point. Furthermore I was still months away from graduation and they might not accept me anyway.

Clearly I was unprepared – everyone else was all dressed up, sleek chignon or French twists – while I had my casual blazer, shorts, tights and sneakers. Plus I looked so out of place in blonde-yellow messy hair (what was I thinking?!?!)

Honestly I was exhilarated to go through round after round as people were being eliminated left right centre —  about 6 interview rounds in total for the first day, another 3 the following day and a subsequent medical check. Was able to meet new people with whom I’m still in contact and are currently flying as well.

Till now I’m still really glad I’d grabbed my certs, made the ballsy move to go alone, and left a part of myself that has kept me cocooned for a while.
Sometimes you have to make a change to realize, that the safety of comfort zone can be wearing you out.

Turnaround, every now and then
I get a little bit restless and I dream of something wild