I Don’t Feel Like Chicken Pox Tonight

I suppose a fall had to come some time.

Alec has come down very unexpectedly with the chicken pox, and the two people he spends the most time with in my family – my mum and I – are the ones who haven’t had it yet.

Yesterday my mum and I went on a frustrating trek to get post-exposure treatment for ourselves, where all but one of the doctors we went to weren’t aware that there was even such a thing as post-exposure prophylaxis for chicken-pox. (We knew this because my uncle used to work at the Communicable Disease Centre.)

Finally, in a clinic near work I found a doctor who was aware that vaccination could be used, but wasn’t sure about antiviral medication. I gave him the relevant materials which my uncle had emailed us, and after studying them he decided that the best treatment for me would be antivirals, although for someone with my level and time of exposure to the virus there’s no guarantee anything will work. Meanwhile, my uncle had decided that the best treatment for my mum would be vaccination. And then they found out that aborted foetuses are used in the vaccine, so she now refuses to take it, and will just wait and see if she gets the disease.

I’m worried about Alec, who is alone in his flat with no one around to check on him, and cut off from his job-seeking because he doesn’t have Internet access. I don’t want my mum to get chicken pox because she’s 62 and I’m worried about complications (which can be pretty bad for adults). I don’t want to get chicken pox because for the first time in a while I was actually planning to not have a shitty birthday this year, and now the uncertainty of it all means I can’t really plan anything until it will possibly be too late to plan anything. Also, any disruption in my pupillage may fuck up my trip to England in June and attendance at Tamara’s wedding. Also, there is the trifling matter of the entire swing dance camp Alec may have infected over the weekend, including two pregnant women and a 91-year-old. It’s possible they’re already immune, but he called the studio to warn them anyway.

Obviously there are bigger problems in the world than these, but that doesn’t make them any more fun to deal with right now. Which is why I could only manage a wry laugh when I found a new link to my site from sockparade this morning, with this commentary:

Found by a pal when looking for Ayn Rand quotes. She doesn’t refer to herself as Supergirl or anything, that’s just what we called her until we knew her name was Michelle. She’s been to more countries and done more great things in her life than I could even think up. She has a ridiculously huge knowledge base of good music and good reads which makes anyone a cool cat in my book. Why do people from Singapore have such interesting lives? She doesn’t write as consistenly as Dooce but read this and you’ll be hooked.

I’m extremely flattered by the kind words, but I can’t say I’m feeling that super right now. :(

Home Bittersweet Home

Perhaps some of you may wonder if walking through the Heathrow departure lounge trying to stop sobbing gets any easier the second time round. It doesn’t. You can deal with it differently – I hid behind the Telegraph until the plane was well into the air this time, instead of pressing myself against the window shuddering – but either way, things get soggy.

* * *

I got home having had no or very little sleep due to the two louts behind me who spent most of the London-Bangkok flight loudly telling a Thai woman about their girlfriends in Thailand (Graham has two, Ashley only has one, I think), and later due to the need to not fall asleep in Bangkok airport and miss my transfer. My mother then informed me that it was my Sunday obligation to attend 6 pm mass instead of the solemnization ceremony later that day of the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends. Never mind that I had deliberately shortened my initially planned holiday just so that I could be at her wedding. Apparently, Pei Ee would “understand” me missing the most important part of the wedding since I would be present at the big banquet later which is usually far more meaningful to a couple’s parents than the couple themselves.

An argument, much stress, and a tearful call to Alec later, I took the drastic step of text messaging Pei Ee seeking confirmation that no, she would not fucking “understand”. Confirmation came in the form of Pei Ee actually sending her bridal car to pick me up from my home and take me to Sentosa. Within half an hour, I wriggled into my dress, threw stockings, makeup and hair products into a bag, and rode to Sentosa in the front seat.

* * *

Attending a wedding just hours after parting from Alec at the departure gates was never going to be easy. This poem was read at the wedding dinner, and I hope the couple will forgive me for co-opting it to describe my own feelings.

And in Life’s noisiest hour,
There whispers still the ceaseless Love of Thee,
The heart’s Self-solace and soliloquy.
You mould my Hopes, you fashion me within;
And to the leading Love-throb in the Heart
Thro’ all my Being, thro’ my pulse’s beat;
You lie in all my many Thoughts, like Light,
Like the fair light of Dawn, or summer Eve
On rippling Stream, or cloud-reflecting Lake.
And looking to the Heaven, that bends above you,
How oft! I bless the Lot that made me love you.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

* * *

As I was leaving the dinner later that night, I shook Tjin Kai’s hand meaning to congratulate him and say something merry. All I managed was “Take care of her” before I started tearing up and hastily moved on out of the ballroom. It might just have been residual waters from what I had already shed that weekend, but I’d like to think it had nothing to do with me, or the man I had had to leave behind at Heathrow, or the old life I had briefly lived again in London only to have to abandon once more. I think it was just about Pei Ee, the gem of a friend who I have loved for 18 years and is now blissfully happy. Congratulations, Pei Ee and Tjin Kai. I wish you all the love and joy in the world.

Happy Birthday To Me, By The Way

There’s a great line in David Sedaris’s Barrel Fever – “If you’re looking for sympathy you can find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.” I’m not looking for sympathy; at least, not here. It’s just that I seem to be going through an odd mental blogging block, which I think will only clear once I’ve written something down about the strange phenomenon that afflicts me every year on March 17 and its surrounding days. Snarks will point out that such writing need only reside on my hard drive, but what would be the fun in that?
Read More “Happy Birthday To Me, By The Way”

Hmm New Year

This is my 2003 entry for the mayfly project:

Finished Masters. Left London, sobbing. Difficult resettling in Singapore. Partial meltdown. Grateful for family’s support, Alec’s (long-distance) love. Cautiously optimistic.

* * *

What I wrote this time last year was fairly spot-on. My dread at The Return proved well-founded – returning to Singapore has been as bad as I expected, and then some. On the other hand, I think I can safely say my resolve to “carpe the fucking diem” for the remainder of my London life was amply realized.

* * *

I write this entry alone again for the first time in two and a half weeks. I said goodbye to Alec a few hours ago, and will probably not see him again until May. A few months ago, I melodramatically scribbled somewhere that the loneliest place in the world is the designs on the backs of my eyelids at 4 am. At that time, I hadn’t yet tried standing in the departure hall as Alec’s profile shrank into the distance.

* * *

On the way home from the airport on the bus, a sign on the expressway read “Welcome To Singapore!”

* * *

I wonder what I will write this time next year.

In Which I Explain It All

Some explaining is in order. I have made vague occasional references to feeling down over the past few months, but never really went into anything in detail apart from whining about missing London. This entry is mostly for people who know me and want a little more information, but those of you who rubberneck at road accidents are welcome to read it too.
Read More “In Which I Explain It All”

Thanks For The Memories

I guess there’s just no pleasing some people.

For weeks I griped and complained about the fact that my boxes hadn’t arrived from England yet. And now they’re here, I wish they weren’t.

I never thought I would be quoting lyrics from The Tennessee Waltz in this blog, but while I was unpacking, one particular line kept playing in my head, louder and more insistently than the Fugazi on the speakers. Going flagrantly against the optimistic conclusion I forced myself to draw here in a previous entry, that line was: “Now I know just how much I have lost.”

I always intended, apart from living a proper goodbye to London (which I think I did), to sit down and write something about it, but in the pressures surrounding my departure I never got time to. Call it solipsism or exhibitionism if you will, but somehow it feels inadequate just sitting here alone with my memories, I want to tell everybody about what this city, these people, this time, meant to me.

Typical Michellian Disclaimer: What follows may not mean a great deal to people who either don’t know me or don’t know London, but if you’ve ever been madly in love with any other city, that’s all you’ll need to understand. And of course I don’t think London or England are perfect, and of course there are serious problems with them which I was just lucky enough to never really encounter personally, and of course there are things I like and respect about Singapore. It’s just that on balance I swing West rather than East. My attempts at translating jumbled ecstatic memories into dry electronic scribblings may therefore give but a rippled reflection of reality, either through my inadequacies with prose or my tendency towards sentimentality, but here is my goodbye. I pray it wasn’t a farewell.
Read More “Thanks For The Memories”

Where In The World Is SuperMichelle, Singapore?

It occurred to me that for those who don’t know me personally and are wondering what’s going on and why I seem so damn depressed all the time these days, I should probably give a more precise explanation of what I’m doing now than the vague references I’ve been making.

I am doing a Graduate Diploma in Singapore Law at the National University of Singapore. It’s a conversion course for people who studied law in England. I’m also studying for exams for the Masters course I was on this past academic year. As can be expected, the overlap between the two courses is somewhat stressful right now.

I feel incredibly tired today. I walked through NUS (National University of Singapore) feeling like a complete alien. Attended the first class for one of my diploma courses, gave a stunningly mediocre performance in a presentation I was required to do, left feeling awkward and self-conscious for the first time in years.

On the way home in the bus there was a TV show (yes, we have TVs in buses) about Singaporean university students at home and abroad. One was a medical student in UCL. I watched as she showed the camera crew around the main quadrangle, through the cloisters, in the library, outside the Union, past so much that was familiar and beloved to me. My insides were churning with envy. I’m not used to having to deal with re-adjustment blues. I lived four years in London without a single pang of homesickness. Now I’m “home” the homesickness is killing me.

I’m sorry about all this whining – it isn’t what you come here to read, and it isn’t what I put up this site to write. I know I should and can get over this. SuperMichelle can pass the Masters exams. SuperMichelle can combine the Masters exams with the diploma course. SuperMichelle can redeem herself from today’s lousy performance in the moot course and make it into one of the international moot teams. SuperMichelle will balance keeping in touch with the people she loves in England (and Ireland), with catching up with the people she loves here, with making new friends in the new course. SuperMichelle will ignore the fact that in Singapore she looks and feels ten times worse than she does in England, because of how the humidity screws up her eyes, hair and skin. SuperMichelle will triumph.

I just have to bloody find where she’s hiding.


Happy new year, everyone. The mayfly project asks people to sum up their year in 20 words. This is my entry:

First class honours degree, church music, debating, a life – juggled successfully. Some disappointments, many blessings. Treasure old friends. Love Alec.

* * *

2003 will be challenging. I have to return to Singapore (reluctantly), and deal with missing everything and everyone that London has been to me since 1999. (Warning: when it happens, there will be soppiness.) I have to find some way to convince myself that I can live and work there happily for the next 6 years, despite heat and humidity that renders me red-eyed, sneezy and itchy, societal and political culture which irritates me on many levels, and an arts and entertainment scene which will obviously fall far short of what London has to offer.

[Note: I haven’t become one of those people that returns to Singapore from a life overseas and can say nothing good about it. There is a lot I like about Singapore. The problem is that there is a lot I love about London.]

It won’t be easy, and given that I have led a charmed life with little or no contact with adversity or discouragements of any real significance, I’m frankly not confident I’ll manage this particularly well. I suppose the best attitude to adopt will be to seek solace in the things I love in Singapore – great food, green city, old friends, family life – and carpe the fucking diem for what remains of my life here.


Perhaps the best-adjusted people are the ones who aren’t afraid to talk about the sappy Hallmark sentiments.

Perhaps the best-adjusted people are the ones who aren’t afraid to let themselves feel the sappy Hallmark sentiments in the first place.

Perhaps I’m not as well-adjusted as I’ve always thought, after all. Food for thought.


I have nothing to say right now that isn’t about jurisprudence (quick summary: love Socrates, hate Dworkin, think Fuller lacks precision, originality and intellect), and outside all is malaise and greyness.

And it occurs to me that I would still rather live here with every day like this than be back in Singapore with no worries and blue skies every day.

I have neither the time nor energy to wade through angst towards clarity, so for now I’m not bothering with either concept. I just want to stay.