My flat has been vibrating all day

I think I am cursed. Building construction projects follow me wherever I go. I am not joking. It is mad.

It bothers me because I work from home. I hear every drill and every pounding.

I also have a biological aversion to loud noises. They frighten me and give me anxiety attacks. My cortisol levels shoot through earth’s stratosphere. The effect itself was initially positive. But after 3 months of indescribably bad and violent dizziness and nausea, I slowly stopped taking Xanax. This violent nausea did not stop and went ONLY. So constantly. I don’t know how to describe it, think of a situation where you became infinitely bad, really sick and dizzy. 100 times at! I’m expecting to die from stress 20 years before my supposed life expectancy.


Death comes


I won’t go too far back in my history because my memory is a bit hazy, so let’s start from a reasonably recent timeline.



I lived in a house (in Singapore). My immediate next-door neighbour spent a year and a half tearing up his house and putting it back together again. Well, I don’t know what the heck he was doing to his house. All I know is that it was LOUD and it lasted 18 months.


My favourite activity



I moved back to my parents’ 10-storey flat. Just at the same time, the council decided to install a new lift literally outside my door. The project was going to take two years to complete. TWO YEARS OF DRILLING AND POUNDING.


You rang?



I met Piers and happily buggered off to England, although I still had to stay with my parents in Singapore six months a year due to visa limitations.



In England. The Bournemouth Borough Council decided to build 400-capacity multi-storey carparks and 400-capacity student housing RIGHT ACROSS THE ROAD from Piers’ flat.

The project will take a year and a half to complete.

The flat bloody vibrates when they… well, I really don’t know. I don’t know what they are doing to make my flat quake.


Wormy earthquake


So it doesn’t matter whether I’m in Singapore or in England. There is always some construction work next door. I am cursed!

Piers says we should move out of the flat by the time the carpark and student housing are done because, speaking from experience, we don’t want to be neighbours with 400 university students.

Right, so, I will enjoy a year and a half of earthquakes in my flat and disco-decibel volume in my ears, then we will run off to a new flat and discover that our new next-door neighbour has just embarked on a project to tear a bedroom off to build a jamming studio.

I look forward to the rest of my life.

Now, will someone please tell me that I am not alone in this curse?

Chicken pox and drunken students

Yes, the unbelievable has happened. I have contracted chicken pox.

To get it at this stage of my life! Even Piers is laughing at me saying I’m so cute-obsessed that even the diseases I get have to be cute.

What rubbish? There is nothing cute about chicken pox, I told him, for it is the ugliest, most evil disease. But he argued that only little children get it usually, therefore it’s cute.

Why is it happening to me, then? What the hell, you stupid poxes?

It’s like these Chickenpox-men from outer space have decided to land on my body to have a picnic. They’re celebrating some alien festival by having a week-long party and the whole bloody colony is invited.


Houston, we've found a new planet to colonise!


At first, they send a small expedition team of maybe five to test the water, so to speak. These brave pioneers, upon finding the land fertile and the water fresh and unpoisoned, ring home eagerly to mobilise the rest of the colony.

They start coming in droves, the quickest ones getting to pick choice spots around the body. But there are plenty of good spots to go around, so there is no need to fight. The whole body is an endless field of fun and sunshine all for the taking. They even bring camping equipment to make it a nice holiday.

“Look, Ted, let’s set up our tents next to the navel. We can play bouncing castle in it after our picnic!”

Ted and his friend are soon joined by more friends, who set up more tents and mats around haphazardly. It’s a celebration, folks! Come, have fun and don’t worry about anything! Bring your old, ailing grandparents and newborn babies, too, why not? The more the merrier!

And then, inevitably, some of them wander up to the face.

“Come quick, Amy, I have found us the perfect lookout point for our picnic! The view up there is gorgeous!”

While Amy is swooning at her oh-so-romantic beau, my brain is going, “No, nooooooooooo. Anywhere but my nose!”

Or my cheeks, for the matter.

Or my whole bloody face, you poxy vermin!


Who are you and what are you doing on my nose?


But the Chickenpox-men (and -women) don’t care. The whole point of their existence is to have a bloody picnic on my body and face. They just plonk themselves right down anywhere they like and then text their friends to hurry up and join in the fun.

Between the crazy itch and the disfigurement (and the fear that, if I so much as sneezed the wrong way, the disfigurement would become permanent), I am finding it hard to keep my sanity.

My flu isn’t getting any better after one whole week of holing myself up at home and surviving on oatmeal and honey drinks. I haven’t gotten much quality sleep, what with the painful throat, coughing, sore intestines (from coughing), blocked nose and my chronic neck pains.

And stupid university students who walk past the apartment every night to go to the bars and clubs in the town centre.

These nincompoops are worse than the Chickenpox-men because I know the Chickenpox-men will soon get tired of revelling and go home to Chickenpox Land.

These university students are there night after night, year after year. There’s a large university hostel near my apartment, so that’s where they come from. No matter what day it is, no matter what unearthly time of the night, they’re outside my window singing drunken songs at the top of their voices.

Sometimes they don’t just walk past. Sometimes they stick around the carpark just across my apartment and hold ear-popping rock concerts.

I am not exaggerating. This morning, Thursday, 4:10 am, group of blokes singing in unison loud enough to wake the dead. The ones who can’t sing are laughing their asses off, trying to drown the singing with their laughter, but it’s a tough fight.


The road to nowhere


This goes on every night between 11 pm and 6 am, with different groups of students streaming past every so often. Nobody has put a stop to this for goodness knows how long despite the fact that there are like 30 affected apartments between the hostel and the city of sin.

I don’t know why. There’s even a police station smack in the middle of the path, but I guess the police knock off work at 5 pm like everyone else does in this country.

I can understand the fun of drunken romps, but have none of these people yet realised that they’ve been doing it in a residential area, which apartments are stood out in the open right in their faces?

The amount of partying these kids do is unbelievable. I mean, never mind their studies, they can flunk their asses big time and live on government welfare for the rest of their lives, but what about their livers?

Oh, yeah, healthcare is free in this country so that’s covered, too.

I guess there is no reason not to party yourself to your grave, then.

Piers and I have been talking about moving out to a nice big house some time in the future and leasing this apartment out, but I’d feel really bad for the future tenants who would have to put up with this insanity.

Oh well, at least they won’t be having chicken pox, too. That much one can be thankful for.

Not for me. I thought I’d already gone through hell week (with the flu) but now it’s beginning all over again, meaner and poxier.


And good riddance too!


Musings from a bogus teacher

I am beginning to get the impression that, for a primary school kid, a teacher represents the highest authority in every given situation.

We’re on a TV set, right? Everyone knows that the director is the highest authority. Next in line is the assistant director or producer. You need anything, you ask any one of them. You have questions, you ask them.


In the past month of filming of this kids’ drama, I have been fielding questions (mostly from student extras) that should have gone to any member of the production crew, instead.

“Teacher, really write or pretend write?”
– with regards to a scene in which the students are doing a test.

“Teacher, can I go toilet?”
– in between scenes.

“Teacher, where is the char kuay teow?”
– during tea break.

“Teacher, he steal her pencil!”
– from a tattletale.

Do they even realise that I’m not a real teacher? I’m only an actress pretending to be a teacher. Yet, they consult me for everything, as if I’m the only authority in the whole place.

When I attempt to explain the situation — “That’s nice, but don’t tell me, ok? Tell the director because he’s the one in charge.” — they just stare blankly back at me as if I’ve just spoken to them in a foreign language.

Is the concept of teacher as authority so deeply ingrained in our kids that anyone who looks like a teacher and dresses like a teacher and goes by the name of 唐老师 (Teacher Tang) is immediately the authority to answer every problem and every query in every situation?

Is it just our kids? Do kids in other countries and other cultures behave the same way?

On the flip side, it can be quite heartwarming. They greet me cheerily every time they see me, like they would a real teacher. It makes me feel loved.

Sometimes, while walking around the school compound, I even get greeted by real students in the school we’re filming at, which is kind of amusing.

I don’t know what real teachers think but, from my limited perspective, I think teaching is a very noble profession because teachers carry so much influence in a kid’s eyes that they have the chance to literally shape the kid’s life.

I would be scared stiff to be given such a sacred responsibility.

Cast in the auntie mould

I am the TV commercial queen this month.

Okay, so mine aren’t big brand award winning commercials, but we all have to start somewhere.

It seems, though, that I am doomed to be typecast as a pregnant woman, young mother or teacher — I’ve done so many of those in the past year.

I don’t get it. Directors and producers keep complaining that I look too young, but they continue to cast me in older roles, and then go on to complain that I look too young.

Why aren’t I cast in younger roles more, then?

Not that I’m upset. A role is a role and I’m happy as hell. Like I was telling Vamp the other day, it’s okay if I get typecast as an auntie as long as I get many good jobs. There are popular aunties in Singapore wat.

Yesterday, I filmed my third commercial this month. I’m on a commercial roll!

I hope the roll rolls on into 2006.

So, yesterday, I was teacher to a bunch of pre-teens for this product called Toyo Klic Correction Pen.

According to the storyboard, I was supposed to be this stern-looking teacher with short hair and specs (a bit like my “I Not Stupid Too” look) but I don’t know why they changed their minds and made me look like this, instead:

Not much different from my regular self.

The kids complained to the producer that I don’t look like a teacher. I look more like their elder sister.

But I don’t think they really minded.

I think I have a look that says to kids: “Please climb all over my head.” Because they always do just that.

Yesterday’s bunch was no different. They just wouldn’t quit making fun of me.

“Teacher! Your handwriting very “nice” hor?!”

“Teacher! How come you don’t know how to write the maths formula?!”

“Teacher! Why you don’t look like teacher one?!”

One of the girls kept calling me a barbie doll.

But, you know, I think they love me because I play along with them and I don’t scold them. And I can make them laugh without even doing a thing.

I can be standing still and soundless in front of them, but with my back towards them so I’m facing the whiteboard, and they can still find it funny.

Kids are really weird people. Honestly, I don’t remember ever being that weird. But I do remember making fun of my teachers. Poor teachers. Thou art noble!

Yes. It was very bright yesterday. Fake sunlight.

Heatless, fake sunlight, which didn’t help much when we were freezing our butts off from the morgue-temperature central airconditioning.

By the way, we filmed that at NAFA Campus 3 and my car park ticket was almost $17.

Major ouch. I should have taken the MRT.