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It was a beautiful autumn day, last Sunday. I jogged past the Wall for Peace four times that morning, and I walked past it another time that evening after strolling along the Seine. I have missed the colours of the sunset at its most intense but it was nevertheless a beautiful sight. *Camera click*


Friday the 13th. I don’t have any particular emotion attached to the day, I don’t get superstitious over it, I would even treat it as a good day to buy the lotto just to defy the conviction of some to the notion of unluckiness. Just another day. It is just a day like any other day.


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Forming new habits

At the start of the year, I figured I would start working on self-discipline, a concept that somehow escaped me in the past year or two. Nothing too drastic though. The plan is to identify key things I would like to do each month and then adopt a handful of daily actions that contribute to these goals and be mindful about maintaining them. This way, every month, I will be consciously doing something rewarding, advancing self-development and most importantly, reinforcing discipline.

River Seine

Reading though a couple of articles (1,2) I came across yesterday, it appears I have gone into the realm of habit forming, even if I had not specifically targetted such an action from the start. I was not even aiming to change my behaviour into automatic deeds per se but the mechanism I’m applying is similar, all for the sake of “focus”.

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Always a learner

One question that used to pop up a lot when people see me, especially among older (and extended) relatives, was if I was done yet with studying. Granted, back in the days, every time they saw me, I was still a student and showed no sign of graduating, even if the reality pointed to multiple graduation ceremonies and the upward move in the academic ladder.

Even a few of my friends have teased that I never seem to tire of being a student, and if given my way, I’d be voted as “most likely to be the oldest student in the class/course”, not because I’ve failed or anything but I would happily register myself to one after another.

Street art

You know what – I didn’t (and still don’t) mind this remark at all. I love learning. In fact, I’d say “thank you” for recognising my effort to learn continuously, regardless of my age or my attained level in education.

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When I grow up, I want to be…

… a dance choreographer (I was really young then)
… an explorer (life can get very imaginative indeed)
… a paediatrician (on deciding college application)
… a traveller (at quarter-life crisis)
… a superwoman (no, no, just kidding, maybe?)
… happy.

A prayer

It really shouldn’t be that complicated to figure this out.

Logically, I knew it and have known it for a long time. I am not tied to a career identity, nor should I let it define who I am. And yet, many of us, when asked to complete the sentence of “when I grow up, I want to be…”, we would inevitably try to put ourselves into a mould. One based on family’s expectation, peer’s pressure, society’s dictate, our own ambition and dream that we were encouraged to steep ourselves in.

And yet it was hard to break away. Invisible threads hold me to place, not to mention my Type A personality guilts me into thinking I’d be a failure if I don’t see through any one of the journeys that I have started. It doesn’t want to acknowledge the sunk cost fallacy that is staring back intently. As an emotional being, I remained steadfast to my – perhaps misguided – convictions.

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What an oblication…

Vacation. Ideally, budget permitting, we’d like at least a couple of them per year. Luckily for us who live in France (and many parts of Europe), time is usually not an issue given the generous annual leave allowance that we get. Then came staycation following economic downturn where many opt to enjoy their break a little closer to home and hopefully need not spend as much by staying local. A few other portmanteaus cropped up quickly – foodcation, nudecation, etc – you get the idea. And now there’s oblication too.

Tulips in Luxembourg Gardens

Initially, I thought it refers to compulsory vacation time imposed on overworked folks given the risk of burnt out. Errr, no. Collins dictionary online has received suggestion to accept this new word as “[a] vacation that’s scheduled and/or planned to allow you to fulfil some obligations, like visiting friends or family”.

Oh my… it makes these visits sound like a real chore so I’m not sure where the “-cation” part comes in to play. Isn’t there a fun part normally, and perhaps some down time, to actually make it a vacation to look forward to? Maybe oblication should be swapped for oblivisit, or something a little less “yay holiday!”?

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It’s my 2nd Pariversary!

Photo mosaic

9 March 2011

I woke up in the morning with things strewn all over my soon-to-be-former bedroom floor. I was supposed to have put everything I wanted to keep into boxes and nicely stacked in the conservatory (to be pillaged every time I go back to Dublin, of course, so I can bring more things over), set aside books and clothes that I planned to give away to charity (with my cousin assigned the duty to bring them over to the charity shop), threw everything else into the normal and recycling bins accordingly (mostly recycling), and the top priority of all – pack my suitcase!

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Keeping up, you and I

I know I’ve been a pretty sporadic blogger for a few months now. A good deal of things happened, and there are so much that I really want to share with you, whether it be about Paris or elsewhere or something else altogether. So I’m working on catching up on the news right now, new and old. Yup, running parallel time lines. It is not easy to try to juggle it all, but slowly and surely I’ll get there.

It would be easy for me to just decide to forget about the last few months and get on from where I am right now, but I made the decision not to. Just bear with me for this couple of months while I get things sorted, and then we should be on smooth sailing. Yell at me then if I fail to stay disciplined ;)

In the mean time, I know it must not have been easy for you to keep track of my haphazard postings. One post I’m talking about the most current thing, and the next I’m back to something which happened in March (and back-dated as such too). Even I had to create a list so I can keep track myself of what I’ve managed to share and what else I need to write about!

A couple of ways you can follow this blog without missing any of the posts: (1) follow this blog on Google Reader, as it compiles the posts as they are published regardless of the date stated on the post; or (2) via the comment system of blog entries, tick “Notify me of new posts by email”. If you notice the lack of mention of RSS feed, that’s because it comes in the order of the dates of posts. I don’t think that’s going to be very helpful at all.

Thanks for sticking around – I really appreciate it!

Sooo… I’m a Monsieur?

I have good reason to believe, in most countries of the world, my name gives a clear indication that I’m female, owner (or carrier?) of XX chromosomes. In the past, I’ve used the title “Miss” and “Ms” interchangeably and still there wasn’t an issue of mistaken gender even for someone who hasn’t yet met me in person to confirm that I look like one.

So imagine the great fun I’m having in France where Lilian, sans E à la fin, is famously masculine in nature. This country even proves it by putting forth a famous international export in the form of Lilian Thuram. Here, the pronounciation is not how you’d imagine it’ll be pronounced elsewhere. It’s a guttural-sounding “Lee-Leon” that’s correct given the orthographe.

Liliane is how they like to change things up here for me.

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Kisses in digital age

First year uni, freshers’ week. I still remember the flutters in my stomach the first time I received a text message from this cute guy I have just met the previous evening, signed off with “kisses”. A mere hour later, another guy I also met during the same social event, also attaching “kisses” to the end of his email. Surely I cannot suddenly be so popular for everyone to be sending kisses my way?

Kisses by Claire

Ah, the naïveté that was me in my youth, and on getting to know the charming “Latin-Europeans” – mainly French, Italian and Spanish – for the first time.

Little did I know, those kisses were merely equivalent to the air/cheek kisses I’ve been getting in greetings to say hello and goodbye, only in these cases, in written form. Had I received a message from a girl that ended with “kisses”, I probably would have think twice about its significance and not jump onto the “someone-had-a-crush-on-me?” bandwagon. The other shoe dropped when some of my new Latin-European friends, of both genders, concluded their text messages or emails with “kiss kiss”. Aaaahhh…

Embarrassing, right? Oh well, at least for a little while, I felt the thrill of the geeky girl who garnered the attention normally reserved for the homecoming queen ;)

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Cimetière du Montparnasse

Yet another year in which I fail to make it home for Cheng Beng – a customary “festival” similar to that of All Souls Day on a Christian calendar.

The last time I participated in the tending of our family ancestors’ graves was just before I moved to Europe, half a lifetime ago. Normally the timing simply didn’t work with my schedule but this year, it came incredibly close. I was home for my brother’s wedding recently, and it crossed my mind to extend my holiday so I can finally join my family on this year’s occasion. However, with work being incredibly busy, I didn’t feel it was appropriate to tack on another week to my ten days trip.

Cimetière du Montparnasse

And thus, rather peculiarly, I have cemetery in my mind. I think back to the Asian-styled tomb and final resting place of people near and dear to me, and at every turn, I also get flashbacks to the cemeteries that I’ve visited in Paris. Normally, according to my grandmother, one should not go to a cemetery bar specific event (like a funeral) or occasion (like Cheng Beng). However, I am less particular about keeping away from the Parisian cemeteries.

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