The Place I Came To Love Is Missing Too

[When You’re Gone – Avril Lavigne]

Today I learned that my manager at the cafe is transferring to another store, and I just wanted to write something about her, even though I highly doubt she knows about this blog.

I’m not posting this until Sunday night, since that’s the last time I’ll see her (unless I can visit her at her store some time), and since that’s when she’ll be announcing it officially. This way I don’t get into trouble.

Anyway, Jess has been an amazing manager, and I say this with no exaggeration nor condition. She’s a fun, understanding, but disciplined boss, who takes the time to understand how each of her underlings work and learn, and to craft tasks which would ensure everyone plays to their strength. She always believed in me, even when I was starting out and feeling like I was letting the team down on busy days, and never ever showed annoyance when I asked my many, many questions. She was patient when we made silly mistakes, and she couldn’t find fault in anyone – what else could you ask in a manager! I think the only way I could ever have a nicer manager is if they gave me free money.

I think it’s a real remark on her, when the entire store’s ambiance and morale revolves around her. And I mean that also when she’s not in the store, and we’re being run by supervisors, because the supervisors also seemed to give off her vibe. We all get along with each other because she’s created such a friendly work environment (or, at least, she was a part of a friendly work environment when she began working there, and then carried it over when she began managing), where no one feels like they’re not allowed to say what they want. She genuinely cared about the wellbeing of each and every one of her staff members, not on an official level, but at a personal level. I suppose those more skilled may see it as a weak point, because management requires certain ambivalence towards the personal lives of their subordinates, but on our level, it made working a joy.

And, as a person, I think she’s charming too. It’s easy to talk to her because she’s always smiling, and she’s always willing to hear about new things. Because of that, she’s on good terms with many of our regulars – I wonder what they’ll feel when they learn that she’s left!

So, Jess, in case you happen to read this: THANK YOU! Thank you for being one of the best managers I’ve ever had and probably ever will have, and thank you for being my friend at work. I hope I have been equally good company, and I wish you the best at the new store and with all your future plans with Cody (I actually know his name now, and just say it wrong to annoy you). Don’t work too hard, but I know you would anyway.

Alex.

P.S. I’m mostly writing the same things in your card so. Double up.

P.P.S. I AM NOT EMOTIONALLY STUNTED

Hippo with a hernia

Today Mela and I went to see the Lion King 3D, and to our delight, we were the only ones in the theater.

Mela ran up to the front and danced around.

Then we watched the movie, and sang along loudly to every song – especially The Circle Of Life, the starting part. We also recited all the bits we knew, and hugged each other for comfort when (spoiler!) Mufasa died.

The 3D effects were good in the sense that mostly they were not intrusive, and if anything some of the majestic scenery were made even more breathtaking by its realness.

I’m really glad we were the only ones in the theater because it was great to be able to enjoy the movie at the top of our lungs. It felt like we were watching the movie at home, but with a huge screen.

Alex.

Death by hot chick

So today was my venture to go eat Crazy Wing and go to IKEA for funsies, with Clare, Charles and Mela.

I got to Melb Central a bit earlier, and Annie (who was going to eat lunch with us), Clare and Mela all realized they were going to be a bit late, and, knowing my hatred for waiting and tardiness, they all texted me more or less at the same time “will be around 10 minutes late SORRY!!!!”

We went to Big W where Clare wanted to look for this specific pair of flats, and I was no contribution, and it led to Mela just telling me to stop talking when I passed comment. Then we went to Crazy Wing, but it wasn’t open yet, so we sort of went to this Asian video store nearby, and went through the DVDs with Annie telling me which ones I should “actually see cos it’s actually amazing”. Then we came across the entire collection of Kindaichi and Slam Dunk, and Annie and I both respectively really wanted those, but Mela convinced us out of buying them, adding that being a member of an anime club, chances are she’ll know someone who has all of them. Well, I am relying on her to. But if she doesn’t, the series is only $65!

Then we went to Crazy Wing, and we ordered between us the Honey Spicy Chicken, the Garlic Spicy Chicken, Mela and I each had one Crazy Wing, some mushrooms, and a 2L bottle of Coke. The wing was VERY hot but enjoyably so – even though my lips got kind of inflamed. Surprisingly, Min-, Larry and their friends came into the store as well, and it was a bit of a “hey what are you doing here!” moment.

After Crazy Wing, we went to QV to have frozen yogurt at Tutti Frutti, and ran into Mai and Julia. Mela and I shared a chocolate one, topped with LOADS of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and crushed Oreos, and then argued over who would eat the strawberry pieces and who would eat the dollop of strawberry fro-yo that Mela put in there. We did the shouting over each other arguing, and everyone on the table were feeling pretty awkward until we started laughing at us arguing.

After frozen yogurt, during which all the sugar and chicken was getting to me and I was feeling quite hyper-active, we left Julia and Annie to their own devices, and Charles, Clare, Mela and I started going to IKEA in Victoria Gardens. Got distracted halfway when we went to EB Games on Swanston to play the Wii upstairs, and we did a mass Mario-Kart battle, except I am very inept at the game on Wii, so I came last in every race (that is, I never finished a race), while Mela went nuts trying to beat Charles.

Finally, we took the tram up to Victoria Gardens, and the tram was very crowded and warm. Mela and I tried to do the word scramble on the tram, but realized to do the big one we needed a pen. So I asked Charles if he had a pen, but this gentleman right next to me handed me his pen, and I was kind of pleased at how friendly he was.

IKEA was pretty good – it always is – but it was made better by the fact that the four of us were pretty much in there as a double-date. We went through the bedroom displays, looking at the different room designs. I think, though, the ones that really caught our interest were the children’s bedrooms, especially the one with the canopy bed and the crawl through cubby. Clare came across this little boy in the cubby, and started making her weird noises at him, and didn’t realize that all that time the kid’s parents were standing right behind her.

Mela saw this bunk bed which was pretty much a double bed up top, and a couch-area/relax/study area down the bottom, and more or less fell in love with it.

Then we went to have the Swedish meatballs and mash, and for $4.25, it was REALLY worth it. Except it smells quite strong. I can still smell it on my breath now. Woof. We sort of sat there for a bit talking, and then weaved through the rest of IKEA to make it to the $1 hotdogs. Again, I think Mela fell in love with the hotdogs, because they were rather tasty and filling for one freaking dollar. I think she wants to go to the newly opened Springvale one JUST to eat the hotdogs again.

Then we went to K-Mart to look for jewelry for Clare, because she needs a new necklace, but I suppose that was a silly place to go for that kind of stuff. We looked at the toys a bit, of course, and then left Victoria Gardens in a rush when we realized it was half past 5, and Mela needed to get home by 7. It wasn’t going to happen, but we could try.

On the train home, Mela and I looked through the many MANY photos she took throughout the day, laughing at the ones where the phone blurred the faces, and saying aww whenever there was a cute photo of Clare and Charles. Then we listened to her music a bit, and said bye at the bus-stop. I am getting very comfortable with this dating thing, yep.

It was a really long day; although we got home earlier than we usually would, we did more and went to more places. I asked Mela if she liked the kind of dates where we did a lot of things, or the ones where we had a meal and just sat around and talked. She said she liked a bit of both, but the fact that she’s gone to take a nap now kind of makes me think that the doing stuff dates are really tiring.

Alex.

I know that I can’t take no more

[Bye Bye Bye  – Further Seems Forever cover of N’Sync]

I just published a password protected post. It’s something I wrote over a year ago (June 2010) and saved into drafts and never published, and I came across it while cleaning up my blog categories.

It made me laugh. A lot of things changed in one year.

You can ask for the password if you know me personally, or if you ask really nicely.

The first part of it was a ragey sort of deal at a ‘you’. The irony is that, reading it now, I am not even sure which ‘you’ I was referring to.

The second part was a ragey sort of deal at myself. And I was glad to see that some parts of it changed – I did get a job, after all.

And it included that I was becoming closer friends with someone who now I don’t talk to at all. That made me laugh bitterly.

Alex.

P.S. Going to write up 2 of the 28 days thing. Because I sucked at that one so badly.

Your hair is everywhere

[Screaming Infidelities – Dashboard Confessionals]

Day 04: Write about someone you love.

I’m doing pretty badly at this daily deal ha.

I find, though, for these kind of topics, unless you’re dating someone, or you have a best friend who everyone knows you’re best friends with, if you commit to writing about someone, you’re committing yourself to them.

Or maybe I have commitment issues I never realized or thought I would have.

For example, just a few days ago Jen was talking to me about possibly moving in together as room-mates in the soon-but-yet-unseen future, and weirdly enough I actually started freaking out just at her words – we could figure out who does the cooking, and we could take turns doing the icky jobs – and I was surprised I was genuinely freaked out.

It’s not that I dislike being around Jen – far from it, I don’t think we’ve ever had a boring time when we hung out – or that I think she’d judge me (much) when she sees what a slob I am – mostly because I’m slobby in public – but it’s more just living – LIVING – with someone else who hasn’t been part of my conscious day-to-day life since I was born (I am generalizing, because for me, my parents aren’t actually the ones who I consciously remember growing up with, but I did start living with them a good decade ago so the weight of the memories are enough) actually freaked me out. It wasn’t the thought of all the responsibilities I’d have, because I’m sure as much as I’d fail at it at the beginning, I’d soon pick up the rhythm and take care of myself, but it was just…SEEING Jen ALL the TIME.

There is no nice way of saying this.

But, back on track. Writing about a specific someone not only elevates them to a status of “First Who Came To Alex’s Mind”, but also “Now Expected To Always Come First To Alex’s Mind”, because why else would I mention them? I have a stockpile of who I can write about: Jen, obviously; Annie who I see all the time and who has been there during all the bad times; Dani, because Dani; Clare, because she gives great hugs; Bianca, for making me see the world differently; I could pick people who I don’t talk to all the time, whose support I sometimes let melt into the background, such as Katherine, who put up with a LOT of weird stuff from me; Catherine (yes…) who talks to me like we’ve never had any time apart even though we rarely do talk anymore; Julia, because haha I won’t revisit the random historical crap there but kudos to her; Steven who as a guy, manages to put up with all my weird ass mood swings, and over MSN too; Dom and Andrew who, at the same time but through different means, were probably my first proper guy friends in the era I call After Annoying-Adolescence.

But are any of them deserving of the ONE SINGLE mention? What qualifies them above the others?

Maybe I’ll revisit this question when I’ve gotten a significant other, and I can shamelessly put them above the others because it’s okay, no hard feelings, and no cold feet freak outs.

Alex.

Tried My Best To Leave This All On Your Machine

[Such Great Heights – The Postal Service]

Slightly late but here’s the documentation of my first NYE in the city, and first night in a hotel room.

Walking out to the bus stop in the morning of the 31st was hard, because the weather had already gotten to around 35-36. But after getting on the bus, it was pretty smooth sailing bar the 40 seconds’ walk from bus to train (oh nu).

Anyway, met up with Annie at Melb Central, and decided that we should spend the 3 odd hours we had to waste sitting and eating. We went to Melb Central’s upstairs foodcourt and, after some considerable hesitation, got Maccas for the first time in months, and sat down to watch Nickelodeon which was playing on the TV screens.

Nick shows are…scarily bad. And predictable. There is a formula: You have the main guy who’s cute but not hot, with a mop-top haircut. You have the socially awkward girl who’s actually really pretty, but no one realizes it. You have the guy who’s actually hot, and he’s either the love interest, or the “best friend” with sexual tension. You also have a funny witty little sibling. Then the rest of the cast is ugly and 2D. Or 1D, seeing as the main cast is 2D already.

Met up with a bunch of younger MacRob girls because I had to give one of them a disk, but the rest just followed naturally. They sat with us for a moment or two before going off to have lunch at better places than a food court.

After we finished eating, Annie and I decided to find somewhere to hang out where we won’t be told off for hogging a table. We were in Borders when, out of complete coincidence, I turned around to find Dani standing behind me.

So Annie, Dani and I sat around for a while waiting for Joshanna to call us to tell us when they’ve checked in, but they never did. In the end, it turned out they’ve already checked in and were waiting for us to call.

Walking from Parliament station to Park Hyatt in the near 40 degree weather literally was hell. It made our suite just that much more amazing – because it had aircon.

Not wanting to go outside to Hell again, we stayed in the hotel room for a few hours playing Big 2 and talking. Now, I don’t say that I’m good at Big 2, but in all the 4 games we played, I won each and every one of them. I really don’t think I’m good at Big 2, so either my hand was fantastic, or the others just sucked something awful.

Big 2 was played with stakes – loser has to do a Truth or Dare from the winner. I suck at thinking up dares or even truths (well, mostly I can think up truths but I knew these people pretty well) so I had others think up things for me. Annie lost twice, and without going into too much detail, I found out things about her that I’d only known half of for over 4 years.

Anna lost once, and her dare was to go into the bathroom (or what we called the Cone of Silence from Get Smart) and shout out a dirty word (she’s the kind to never do that). After a few minutes of silence with her just standing in the bathroom without knowing what to say, Josh prompted, “What do I say when I’m having a bad day?” “OH!” exclaimed Anna. “I KNOW! FUCK MY LIFE!”

At around 6, we deemed it timely for us to go eat dinner, to beat any rush later on. It was the hottest of the day at 6, and we had to walk from Collins to Bourke for Red Silks. Josh was, for some reason, in a longsleeve black shirt, and he was starting to feel too hot. So he went into the Cotton On right by Red Silks and snagged a singlet. Being the manly man that he is, he decided to change right outside the store. So he pulled his shirt off and tried to change into the singlet really fast to act all cool, except in his bravado, he managed to get his head and arms into the wrong holes, and spent a good 20 seconds standing outside Cotton On with his arms haywire and his chin tucked into his chest. Now, why would the rest of us help him? We stood there and laughed.

Red Silks was not air-conditioned, much to our dismay, but it was too late and too hot to change our minds and go to Crown. We ordered up our iced drinks, and I had the less-than-ingenious insight to order wonton in noodle soup. Drinking hot soup definitely was too hot, but on the other hand, the sweating made me cooler. And smellier.

We ordered up a round of beers (not too much because Josh was feeling really sick and figured he shouldn’t drink), and in between using it as a cooling device, we each proposed our toasts to each other.

Having sufficiently sweated through dinner, we decided to split up. Josh was feeling too dizzy (and he was really pale) so him and Anna went back to the hotel, while Annie and I went to Crown to meet up with the Melb Uni lunch group. Crown was blissfully chilled, and the boys all decided to go to Galactic Circus and do what we did last time with the hour-long-pass.

Annie demanded that we play the zombie game I played last time with Lily, but remembering how much my arms ached afterwards, I passed the gun off to Elaine, who apparently stuck around long enough to die, and then left Annie to fend the zombies off herself.

An hour later, and all the girls had grown tired of watching the guys drive and shoot (gender roles, yes, but to be fair we did try to encourage the non-active girls to get into it). Swang was bitter after being defeated by me in a game of table-hockey where the table never registered her goals but registered mine. Fi decided that it was the perfect time to get Slurpees, so we all trekked down Clarendon (Annie was regretting wearing heels at this point) to go to a 7/11.

There was still a good 2 hours until midnight at that point, so it became a matter of where people wanted to spend that time. We couldn’t go to Hungy’s apartment because there were 18 of us, however for some reason it was okay for us to hang out in the lobby of the building. We spent an hour there playing Mafia (wherein I stuffed up the role of the narrator and revealed the Mafia’s gender), and got so many death glares from people going in and out of the building.

At 10:45, according to Asian time, it was time to go to Southbank and start waiting for midnight. Luckily we left early, because in the end we walked up so far up Southbank that by the time we found a spot that we agreed on (which wasn’t Alexandria Gardens, I don’t know why anyone thought that the Gardens would have space at that time), it was well past 11.

Then came the harder-than-it-should-have-been process of finding Mandy and her CGS friends. Communication problems aside, I was pretty sure she just didn’t know how to receive instructions. If I said to you (assuming you know Southbank) “walk on the side of Flinders Station towards Crown, we’re on the bridge that right opposite the big red steps”, you’d probably at least understand the general direction to walk, if you don’t know what I mean by the big red steps. (P.S. these are the big red steps, LEARN IT.) Yeah, no, Mandy just kept saying “we’re on a bridge” and there are 5 bridges along the Yarra in that area.

Finally agreeing to meet them under the “big angel with the swirly square head“, and talking to two other guys who were with her, we met up with Mandy and her friends, with 15 minutes to spare until midnight.

At 5 minutes to midnight (cue song), I couldn’t find Josh and Anna, who said they’d come back out to meet up (by the way, the weather had cooled down significantly and was actually really pleasant). For some reason, Josh’s number was hidden, and I couldn’t call him back, so I couldn’t find him anywhere. While I was walking around at the end of a bridge, I felt someone tackle me from behind.

Lo and behold, second time that day, Dani managed to find me under the biggest of coincidences. Granted, I’d texted her whereabouts we were (she knows what the big red steps are, WHY DON’T YOU), but still, crowd, NYE, 11:55 pm, she found me.

Brought Dani back to where we all were, and while we were sitting on the pier/dock waiting for the countdown to happen, the fireworks began. Midnight and passed and we’d all been just sitting there talking. So instead of getting a massive countdown, we all just went around hugging everyone and watching the fireworks (which weren’t ASTOUNDING but they were pretty damn good looking). We kept on yelling “refund refund!” whenever the fireworks seemed to have ended. I guess it wasn’t a bad effort considering they were just coming out of the Eureka Tower, and plus it was a total fire ban that day.

At around 12:15, 12:20, Annie and I decided we’d go back to the hotel. We went to look for Joshanna but since we couldn’t call them, we couldn’t find them. It was a long and painful walk/trudge back to Flinders St Station (trust me, it hurt me heaps, so it would have killed Annie’s feet), whereupon we bid goodnight to Dani who was taking the tram back, and we started walking towards Flinders Station trying to get our way back to Parliament.

The road to the station was, unsurprisingly, packed. As in, I had time to shoot off a few text messages while walking without danger, packed. Some guy in front of us threw up beer, and Annie and I had to walk around him since she was barefoot. Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream started playing over the loudspeakers (over some signs that read “NO STOPPING ON BRIDGE”) and I suppose the smallest consolation to throbbing feet and exhausted eyes was that a girl behind me did a sort of impromptu duet  of the song with me.

Finally breaking free of the station crowd stranglehold, Annie and I gritted our teeth and hurried our way up to Collins St for the tram. Miraculously, Josh and Anna were right behind us and we held the door for them to get on the tram with us (they’d fallen behind us to go to 7/11 for instant noodles and lollies. Man 7/11 is a lifesaver sometimes).

We made the final painful journey back up to our room, and collapsed onto the bed and chairs, caring not that we hadn’t showered, or that it was nearing 1 am. Josh cooked up the instant noodles which were PRETTY DAMN spicy, and since the noodles didn’t come with plastic forks, Josh and I ate ours with coffee spoons, and Anna and Annie shared one using two coffee stirrers as chopsticks.

After consuming a fiery midnight snack that had Josh swearing metaphors I really shouldn’t repeat here, Annie and I took (turns taking) a shower and changed into our PJs.

Anna was, for some reason, uber energetic. She demanded that we play I Never Never. We cut some Red Bull with vodka – but only allowed Anna Red Bull, considering it the lesser of two evils – and started the game. It wasn’t as energetic as Anna probably wanted it to be, but, once again, I found out things about my friends that I sort of didn’t want to know. Let’s just say that from now when I call a friend who’s not single, and they say they’re busy, I will be a lot more suss.

Finally at 3, when Josh and Anna were getting a bit too cuddly in the bed, we decided to call it a night. Annie was adamant to stay in the bed, because it was a King and there was really no where else for her to sleep, me having called the couch (I can’t really sleep in beds with other people save Jen, apparently, and it was too hot anyway). So, an hour after we turned off the lights and I was in the next room on the couch with a little jacket as a blanket (which probably contributed to me getting sick after sharing Josh’s drink by accident), their giggling in the bed finally died down.

I couldn’t completely sleep for most of the time, because one shoulder was sort of hitched sideways and the couch was, amazingly, too small even for me. I was more than aware of the fact that Annie started wheezing-snoring halfway through the night, and then either Annie or Anna started phonetically sneezing “atchu atchu”.

At 9, I decided it was too bright and I was too cold to sleep, so I got up, put on my jacket blanket, and put on Josh’s really awesome Dr Dre headphones to play Monster Dash with. Man those headphones were something. The Pacifier had the most satisfying WHOMP.

At 10, I saw in my peripherals Anna crawling around in her morning ritual to wake up. The others got up, which made it okay for me to be a bit noisy and brush my teeth and pack my bags. While Anna and Annie were loafing around, Josh and I watched some TV (I’m well aware I keep lumping myself with the guys), and That 70s Show came on. Collectively, we all got ready in 2 episodes’ time, and at 11 am on the dot, we left the hotel room for check-out.

The weather was a LOT colder on the 1st compared to the previous day. We went to Melbourne Central to meet up with Julia for brunch. At first we were all mmm-ing over the prospect of pancakes, but the moment Josh uttered the words “congee”, our Chinese heritage came crashing back, and we managed to persuade Anna and Julia to go to congee instead. There was a momentary lapse in decision when we were given coupons to Pancake Parlor, but a flip of the coin saw us sitting down to some Century Egg and Salty Pork Congee.

Since I’m coming in at 2400 words now, I will cut my story short and just say that we stuffed our faces full, then I went home. Got home at around 1 pm and hopped onto the computer, because I missed internet so much.

Now I’m sick, and I’ve been sick for a few days. It had to happen, though, because I haven’t been proper sick for almost 10 months.

Alex.

P.S. I actually started writing this post on the 2nd but I went to shower, saved the draft, and promptly forgot about it til now. OOPS!

P.P.S. I also made a new friend in the last few days. Oh my god 2500 words okay I’m stopping.