15 January 2012

Tears for Fears

It’s been a while since my last post. After a series of introspection and a rollercoaster ride of mixed emotions, I feel more depressed than ever, hence more ready to blog. Not really an ideal way to start the year but who wants ideal anymore? Nothing in life is ever ideal. Shit always happens whether we like it or not. And this is me at the peak of a self-proclaimed meltdown talking.

But tears are hard to come by as far as my biological makeup is concerned. I just couldn’t bring myself to tears the way telenovela actresses do. Somehow I feel amazed that some could even manage to choose from which eye a tear shall drop. It only makes me feel more abnormal. I shed tears profusely at every yawn and yet couldn’t even shed one whenever I feel like my heart or mind is about to explode. I remember Cameron Diaz in the film The Holiday. Her inability to cry frustrated her so much that emotions do not seem to be in her bloodstream. I know how that feels. Probably a psychologist should be on my speed dial. I’m not going crazy. Not so soon I hope.

Which is why I recall that one moment that’s forever embedded in my memory. That one moment: a cab ride from point A to a point of immense uncertainty. Marie and I were on our nth move and the gloomy night sky couldn’t be a more perfect backdrop. Despite our steady jobs and daring ways of seizing life goals, the universe conspired to accumulate all our worries together and pack our cab with one fiery ball of emotions bursting at the seams. We found ourselves hopping from one place to another searching for a flat (as I have shared in my previous blog entries). Our requirements were simple. It should be: accessible to both of our offices, affordable enough not to drain our salary, and preferably sharing it with fellow Filipinos. Easy? Nothing is as easy as it sounds. That and all the other little things that added up.

Inside that cab I felt both secure and vulnerable. The small, comfortable vessel lent us its transient warmth amidst the chaotic scenarios in my head. I couldn’t exactly remember what Marie and I were discussing about at that moment. Her words turned into garbled sounds that I heard not with my ears but with my whole being. Like an echo of a man slipping away from a tunnel deep underground, it sounded so daunting that I almost did not want to listen. I had weird imaginations of myself staying over at our atelier, sneaking after work hours to use the restroom for a shower before sleeping at the wooden flooring accompanied by frothy gowns that make my reality turn into fantasy, and vise versa. Paranoia got the best of me. I guess I was somewhere between a near state of astral projection and a progressive stage of delirium that I found myself shedding a tear. Oh my gosh, I am human.

Marie shook me as if to wake me up from a coma. I looked at her eyes and saw in her a three-part persona: A dear friend who’s always ready to hand over a hankie to cry on; A partner in crime who conquers dreams with an equal audacity and such firm resolve; And a comrade in battle, who’s always willing to save a wounded soldier like myself.

If not for her, I might not have recalibrated my emotions the way she did. For that I am forever thankful. The universe really has its own way of aligning and realigning things. Because while I am in my current state of misery, I am making this little tribute to my great friend. A superb coincidence or just impeccable timing? Anyways, thank you Marie*! After all, today is your birthday.

Oh, and Cameron Diaz’s character did weep towards the end.    

18 October 2011

Guest Blog: When It Rains

The recent downpours has kept me indoors, catching up on the various blogs that I follow. I am glad that I even got to write again for TheKablogsJournal. Do check out "When It Rains".

I love the rainy season.

26 September 2011

1, 2, 3...

I have always disliked math or any of its associates. Had it been a person waiting for a Facebook friend request approval, I would have clicked the Not Now button in an instant. Heck, Facebook is even more complicated than math as of this writing. I still recall how I have struggled to pass every math subject that I had back in high school. I felt like an odd apple surrounded by smarty-pants oranges chewing numbers for breakfast. That is probably the reason that steered my career path towards the categorically right-brain-dominated field of fashion. But who am I fooling? Math is everywhere. Numbers are too clingy for my liking. From the measuring tape around my neck to the fine lines on the French Curve that I caress, I am indeed outnumbered by numbers.  

But just when I thought that the quest to “Find X” was the ultimate predicament, here comes another challenge of becoming acquainted with it beyond my lingua franca. Flashes of a 3-year-old girl displaying her counting “talent” in Hokkien on a ‘90’s noontime television show suddenly haunted me. The rhythmic cadence of every syllable she uttered became some sort of a childhood verse that got stuck in my head. Only now the situation calls for Mandarin. Toting a spiral notebook and some dogged spirit, I sneaked inside the workroom to ask Vinia, our drafter, for help.

, èr, sān, …”

“Say that again, is it suh… or sih…?”, I interrupted her with the hope that my forefinger charade of pointing up and then down actually helped her note the difference in my voice’s fluctuating intonations. I don’t want to murder the language that has seen the rise of magnates around the globe.

But then I wonder, does language matter when dealing with numbers? They are after all considered as a language on its own. They are the jargon of the self-effacing geeks and even the lingo of the hyped extra-terrestrials, as some groups posit. Some Most women consciously mess around with their weight, body measurements and age as the need arises. Mastery of mathematical Subtraction is the key to survival. While most men coalesce in their glorified conviction that size does matter. Thus, paving the way to miscalculated “shoe size” and padded egos. They are addicted to Addition.

, lìu, …”

No matter how far I run, I couldn’t get myself to hide from it. Blame it on Toto, Singapore’s local lottery. Every number crossed out further lures me into adoring its contours along with the possibility of winning the muti-zeroed sum. Working away from home taught me that cash is king. Seizing its monarchy is a plausible strategy. Where does lottery fit in? Well, it is the court jester.

, jiǔ, shí.”

“Thanks Vinia! How about counting from 11 till 20?”

Tomorrow it will be my turn to teach her a few English words as part of the bargain. By now my jasmine tea has turned cold and bitter. The client with a 4 o’clock appointment has not yet turned up. I regret peering thru the workroom’s narrow window, noticing how the traipsing pedestrians and the stop-and-go rhythm of the cars on the sweltering pavement has made me all too groggy.

My eyes are heavy. I feel like dozing off to Neverland. And my mind is counting backwards in English.

3… 2… 1…


01 September 2011

The Fashion Show

It is the moment that I have been waiting for. Another set of firsts. First time to get involved in a major fashion show in Singapore. First time to step inside The Fullerton Hotel (okay, this is my second time if you will count the 30-minute meeting held a week beforehand). First time to deal with international models. The list goes on. And it is just six in the morning! If it’s any consolation, the early 7am call time is not that alien to me anymore. Having experienced similar shows in my home country in the past has made me rather comfortable with it. But still, my legs won’t allow me to sprint any quicker than necessary. I don’t want to be late for the rehearsal.

I remember how luckily I have survived past night’s Halloween spotlight. Now it’s clear, everything was real. No amount of denying will suffice. I couldn’t really say that I have enjoyed it that much when all my brain prompts me to remember is the last fifteen minutes onstage. Not to mention the good 30 minutes I spent back at our hotel bathroom desperately trying to remove those fake nails under the faucet. I think I have wasted enough running water to fill in the tub that night. I know, that’s too much. I couldn’t even brag about that as my alibi for staying inside the bathroom while the other guys (read: twinks) relieve themselves. Somehow the word “interracial” kept popping in my mind. Erase, erase! Sadly, they were still dressed up as monsters that moment so I couldn’t figure out who’s who. Wait a minute, why am I suddenly spewing out porn terminologies? Don’t worry, nothing NSFW here. Anyway. Remnants of that night haunt me.

It is a bright and beautiful day. Garbed in the generally agreed on monotonous black non-color (Next time I am in charge I swear I’ll remove black from the options), I reached Fullerton just in time. The hotel guy in a vivid red ensemble with a feather-topped hat greeted me as I stepped off the cab. (Honestly, had I known that it was just a stone’s throw away from Raffles MRT, I wouldn’t have taken the cab.) I went straight to the main ballroom to scour for familiar faces and saw… two out of five dressers/student interns and four out of twelve models. Not bad. There’s still time to nap. I wish!

I quickly rummaged through the racks to inspect if the gowns were properly transported. Red chiffon gown, check. Black backless gown, check. Floral cheongsam, check. Wedding gowns, uncheck. They look asphyxiated from being trapped inside garment bags. These beings need a good fluffing. An hour passed and finally the rehearsal is about to start. After several moments of gathering and re-gathering my flock of emaciated sheep, the sleepyheads are complete and ready.

                                                              Somebody lend me a steamer please.

While The Designer and the show director discussed the models’ calculated sashaying, Jill and I tried to practice using the radio. I never was and never will get used to hearing my own voice. It’s just weird. Anyway. After running around arranging stuff and liaising with a few hotel personnel here and there, a strange silence transpired for a second. You know that type of sudden silence that precedes an impending chaos? Cindy just arrived.

The easily misunderstood lady, which I first met here, came in with boxes in tow. Jill huddled up the interns as if to prepare them for a security body search. Cindy, in her usual frantic manner of speaking, commands warns us of the sheer importance of those boxes:

“Okay guys, these are very precious jewelry. Please be careful, okay? Make sure you keep an eye on them. No one else should go near...”

We get the picture. Keep off and no one gets hurt. Kidding.

The rest of the day was spent mainly chatting and guarding. Chatting with the models and guarding the jewels. Over lunch, everybody shares how their Halloween parties were spent. We ate with heavy ceramic plates on our lap, scattered like Miss Universe delegates high school cliques inside the hall. Taking advantage of the situation, I even mustered enough audacity to converse in Spanish with the group of Spanish-speaking models. I’m pretty sure they thought of me just as how I thought of every foreign celeb uttering “Mahal ko kayo” each time: lame but cute. I am just hoping that that’s not the be-all and end-all of why I studied the language for two years.

                                                                                      Final run-through

The seemingly endless run-throughs of lights, sounds and models’ choreography finally reached its end. It’s show time. The main ballroom soon got filled in with affluent couples preparing to get married and humble tai-tais (太太who have no place else left to stash their money into. Lights, camera… bling!

I am at a good vantage point inside the ballroom. For the first time I am not backstage. As I radio in my colleague Jill to send out the models as choreographed, I couldn’t help but feel emotional with the flashes that the camera bulbs emit and the Swarovski-embellished gowns reflect. This is haute couture at its finest. Each model sashayed with nymph-like mystery and dignified elegance. The emergence of cute little page boys and flower girls towards the end even made it more poignant. Before The Designer made his grand entrance, he asked me from a good five meters away how the show was. I hope my expressive smile and thumbs-up response has reassured him in some way. Glittery confetti showered him as soon as he stepped out and his name flashed on the big screen. That moment was indeed magical. I promised myself that I should have one of those bow-at-the-catwalk-with-bouquet moments.

Missing trolley, staying late post-show, and a missing jewelry aside, everything went well. But as we know in this industry just like any other, it’s not all about glamour. The client feedback, i.e., return of investments, is equally important. Back to reality.

P.S.: The missing jewelry was immediately recovered from a Korean "prima donna" model who forgot to remove the earrings after the show. (Don't worry, this is not the last time she'll surface in this blog.) The missing trolley never resurfaced. And I still stay up late whenever necessary. No. Overtime. Pay.  

17 July 2011

Fame Monster

I woke up feeling less guilty than the previous mornings that kept my guts in a shameless tug-o-war. It is the eve of all eves. Halloween as what commercialism dictates. Tonight could be the beginning of a haunting nightmare or the end of this poor girl’s career. Or both. I am holding on to fate that the decision which I have made was wise enough to not let me down. Tonight I am the Devil Bunny.

Yes, these people can be that creative. I remember the first time that I walked into their inconspicuous office at Lavender. The long, narrow and steep flight of stairs allowed me to rethink my options whether to step back or just go with my guts. Inside, the two employees try to make themselves scarce by abusing MSN, pinging here and there like serious business. As soon as the adjacent door opened, I knew it was my turn. A lanky guy escaped the room with neither a telltale sign of excitement nor trauma. A lady soon emerged, waving towards my direction. Inhale, exhale.

“The idea that we have is similar to the movie “13 Ghosts”, she explains. At one point I got conscious for trying to resist the urge to gawk at her mouth, convincing myself that she’s not playing scare tactics on me by wearing corrugated and fanged dentures. “Throughout the night you guys will be moving around, slamming on glass walls and the like, and basically just hanging around to have your pictures taken with the guests…”

Sounds easy for a few hours of being a monster of sorts in exchange for a cool S$100. I am excited! No, scratch that, I am terrified! For how insane could I be for prioritizing this “sideline” over an important errand for our atelier’s fashion show?!

It’s 6:00pm. I am supposed to be staying on to help The Designer to load up the gowns inside the van that will transport all our fashion show paraphernalia to the hotel. But the 10:00pm schedule unexpectedly clashes with my pre-arranged “gig”.  So instead of letting my laptop stay open for another 4 hours, I had to shut it down and leave. My apologies might have sounded like forlorn blah-blahs. My phone, which has been ringing repeatedly, only made it worse. I am running late.

I took a cab and headed to Holiday Inn near the CBD. Inside a hotel room, the “monsters” have already been made up save for myself. An auntie quickly ushered me inside the bathroom and handed me this black, faux leather ensemble that’s tight enough to make me look more famished than I already do. Only the white fur trim at the back reminded me that I am tonight’s resident Devil Bunny. Unfortunately, no amount of squishing and laying-on-your-back-as-you-wear-it tricks could make this hot pants possibly fit me. I mean, clearly, their peg is a size zero as evidenced by the cheerful other “monsters” that scramble inside the room. They are obviously in their mid- to late teens and I am at least a decade older than them. Geez.

The makeup team immediately got a hold of me as soon as I slipped into my own black hot pants (it pays to be prepared). A slather of eyeshadow over here, a tousling of the hair over there. Tease, Aqua Net. Tease, Aqua Net. I actually felt more glamourized compared to the others who were either lathered in white paste or murky green paint. On the downside, the long, red plastic glue-on nails added a hooker-ish feel to my evolving salacious look.

The Organizer, gathering his minions, announced a few reminders before leading us out to the streets. Being an ardent follower, I obliged. As we slowly tread the streets of Somerset, I began to realize how this glamourized makeup only does too little to conceal my true identity. While the other “monsters” go chanting and goofing around in their heavily made-up faces and eccentric costumes, I try to stay in the middle of the pack and hide. Not for the shy-type. Really.

Which is why I heaved a sigh of relief upon reaching Howl At The Moon. An appropriate name for a club during this time, I thought. It is 9:00pm. A comedic skit is still playing onstage. I can hear the boisterous laughter from the inside. Our dimly lit waiting area is comfortable enough to escape the spooky stares from passersby, yet not convenient enough to hide. Guests going in would arbitrarily pose with us and have their pictures taken. Thirty minutes passed and we’re still waiting for our turn. These “kids” must be having the time of their lives. One “monster” is gamely playing with his light saber while the other repeatedly shows-off his spring-activated wings. I eventually found myself chatting with Eve. With her dusky, youthful complexion I wouldn’t have thought that she is actually a pre-school teacher by profession. I wonder what's the background of the others. But one thing's for sure, we've all embraced monsterhood for fun and extra moolah. 

Our casual conversation is interrupted by this petite “monster” wearing a rainbow-colored wig and an equally flamboyant outfit. It is amusing how she enjoys the role of a custodian, advising us on how we would choreograph our moves once we get inside. I have a feeling that the end is near it is our turn.

My phone rings. I could be wanted by The Designer or The Boss. After 5 minutes of struggling how to fish it out, being encumbered by my 2-inch nails, I recognized that it is just my calendar alarm. It is 10:00pm. They must be loading up the stuff now. Guilt starts to creep in. Soon, whatever anxiety I have is quickly replaced by anticipation. The Organizer is already asking us to go in. The drifting cigarette smoke, raucous babble, intoxicating music and creepy, bloody costumes magnify the celebratory mood inside the club. A snapshot here, a snapshot there. I feel like Britney Spears under the influence, inebriated by the euphoria that is making me bored, awkward and oddly thrilled all at the same time. Gore runs aplenty. From the hackneyed blood-drenched duos and the predictable goth fleet to the villain-inspired folks and the Cosplay-adoring set. The kids of Twilight would have taken a backseat. It is starting to get fun until my feet started to send signals of pain and discomfort.

I am surrounded with strangers in this festive cauldron. On hindsight, I wish I did not decline the lady in a witch’s hat who kindly offered to get me a drink. That would have been handy. Or pinched the biceps of a hunky guy dressed as The Terminator. For that would have made me more brazen in carrying out our impromptu 15-minute ordeal of dancing centerstage under the spotlight, pulling out random guests from the crowd and swaying to the beat of fear, gaucherie and mortification. If it were a generation earlier, I would expect crates of tomatoes being thrown out. Luckily they were a gracious bunch who enjoyed reveling in the moment. It was the longest fifteen minutes of my life. Whoever said that we all get our fair share of fifteen minutes of fame probably meant shame.

Now if only there is an easier way to remove these pesky glued-on fingernails.  

19 June 2011

The Pot-Pot Connection

It is our last weekend at George’s self-proclaimed Big Brother House in Tampines. Fresh from the past month’s move, my big blue luggage is getting its fill of twice the number of badly ironed clothes and carelessly accumulated toiletries. Even my soiled t-shirt has to be included in the mix. It still has remnants from last night’s ice cream, a souvenir from naughty Angelita’s playful little hands. The spontaneous walk in the neighborhood playground at 8:00pm simply confirmed that nothing cheers up a child more than a cone of dripping ice cream and a turn or two at the swing. She might be the female epitome of Dennis the Menace but it is exactly that quality that makes her unforgettable. Just like the “pot-pot” sound that resonates from the kitchen window.

I always knew that my first encounter with that familiar sound back in Bukit Batok should have an encore. I can’t wait to find out whether there’s proof for my suspicion of it being not just the herald of abundance as a pandesal supplier, but also of it being a distinctive icon of a culturally homogenous Asian lifestyle.  Now is my chance. I temporarily paused my packing and walked straight towards the kitchen. Nanay, who is busy cleaning up after Angelita’s mess, noticed my beleaguered stance. She looked at me nodding with her mouth partially open and that articulate glance that seems to always know when I’m about to ask something.

“Is that a pandesal vendor?” I asked her a bit hesitantly.

“Nooo, that’s not pandesal. That’s the guy who collects old newspapers.”

“Oh, I see. I thought it’s the same as in ‘Pinas…”

“Sounds the same, I know… Anyway, George just asked him to come upstairs.”

Seeing it now with my own eyes, all my previous suspicions are now put to rest. It is not a pandesal vendor after all. No pandesal and no profound cultural link. It is just a matter of two countries utilizing the same tools, a bicycle and a “pot-pot”, but for different reasons. I wonder if this “pot-pot” madness will resurface in Tiong Bahru.

The day eventually came for Marie and I to leave. My luggage now feels heavier than before. For the first time I didn’t care about how I look and simply decided to wear a daster. The matronly green shade of this informal house dress doesn’t give justice to the breezy comfort that this one dollar find renders. I hailed a taxi as the afternoon drizzle began to pour, quickly dumping our luggage inside the trunk and never looking back. Nanay wouldn’t have wanted any semblance of nostalgia anyway. People come and go, change happens and future beckons. Yet, the Filipino sense of family that they shared with me will always be remembered.

I take delight in the possibility of another encounter with the “pot-pot” vendor wherever I go. I shall welcome it dearly just as I would embrace the valuable memories of Big Brother House.  

14 June 2011


My alarm clock tells me that I have been snoozing it for far too long already. I could only blame the past night’s YouTube marathon of telenovelas. I reached the atelier much later than Jill, which rarely happens. She usually arrives 15 to 30 minutes later than myself, barging through the glass doors with an expression-less face, traipsing across the atelier in her high heels like time didn’t matter. I guess it can be considered as one of our job’s perks. There are no strict rules on attendance, no cards to punch in or ID’s to scan.

“We have another casting today,” Jill reminds in her naturally soft, husky voice. “Cindy will be joining us later.”


“Oh yeah, you haven’t met her yet. She doesn’t come here often. Cindy helps us with the Marketing…”

At that point I started to tidy up the fitting room which includes hiding away the ten pairs of stilettos inside the white Ikea plastic box, and wiping the huge mirror with crumpled newspaper. I remember how our drafter once taught me that technique of cleaning the mirror, explaining how the “oils” from the paper would do wonders. Either she thought I was too naïve, or that she is just eager to practice her English-speaking skills -- which I admire by the way.

I regained my composure after the arm muscle-tightening chore of wiping our two ginormous mirrors up and down, left and right. Sheer vanity justifies how I am deeply bothered by the possibility of my right biceps being more noticeable than my left, but that’s another story. While waiting for the models to trickle in, I headed straight towards the body-form where a client’s wedding gown that I have been working on for days is performing rather well under pressure. There it quietly stands shimmering under the halogens, unperturbed by the oxymoronic orderly chaos that is evident in its surroundings. I couldn’t almost recognize the white receiving table where copies of our monthly subscriptions of Harper’s Bazaar and Her World Magazine are strewn together with several Sophie Hallette lace fabric samples and cups upon cups of crystal beads and sequins. It might not look too appealing but often inspiration sprouts from such disarray.

Comparing this wedding gown to Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia masterpiece is unfair yet inevitable. Because seriously, it looks like it is never going to be finished. Every time I grab the thread, I imagine the sequins jumping out to the needle on its own and sewing itself up onto the lace bodice. If only it is as simple as +enter.

The models started to arrive like giraffes being drawn to trees, calculated yet keen. I am getting used to the sight of such live mannequins with their flawless skin sans makeup. Casting is so much fun. It’s like playing dress up with life-sized Barbie dolls. With a wide-eyed wonder of a child and a Tyra Banks perspective, I entertain myself by assessing them in my mind. Hmm, she looks sophisticated but walks like one shoe is coming off… This one looks awkward in a cheongsam… That one is Gisele Bundchen in the making, beautiful glide… She is kinda fleshy for this gown, maybe she’d look better with the other cut… That girl’s walk is fluid, but her attitude annoys me…

Final casting, check. A cyclone must have hit our atelier as tranquility has temporarily made its exit. What a mess! The items which the models used for the casting were scattered inside the fitting room. Gowns were randomly slumped over the rack without using the hangers. Stilettos were carelessly thrown wherever convenient. The wooden seats were disarranged, some blocking the entrance. And the models’ comp cards cover the entire table like a deck of playing cards waiting to be shuffled. But just when Jill and I thought that the storm is over, another one comes in. And she is charging with click-clocking heels towards Jill.

“What happened here?”

“Oh, hi Cindy, we had a casting...” Jill explains.

“What?! You had a casting without The Designer?!”

“Uhm, The Designer couldn’t make it on time and he texted me to say that we can proceed…”

“Can I see the models’ comp cards… We have to finalize this already. What about the agency, I told you to call them up, right?  Where are the gowns? Is the lineup complete already? I have to see the gowns so I can get matching jewelries later…”

Meow… This one is fierce. I almost forgot that the assessment game is over and this one is not part of casting anymore. I tried to avert her gaze, mindful of her ire, as she glances over me once every few blinks. It felt as if she’s raring to ask me Who the hell…?

Jill, cleverly noticing this as her way out, exclaimed “…Uhm… ok… By the way this is Pat, our new designer… Pat this is Cindy…”

For a moment there I felt how Jill wanted to press the eject button and vanish into oblivion. If I were in her shoes I might have felt the same. Cindy’s commanding presence complements her high-pitched voice that pierces through the air the way an old typewriter would. Only that hers echoes in a peculiar Singlish manner, rendering it undecipherable by my still unaccustomed ears. Yet her aura tells me that she is not as fierce as I initially thought. It’s just something in her that sends a positive vibe that it is just about work, nothing personal.

Cindy left as soon as we have presented to her the collection. But just like a real storm, this one has left a casualty. Jill looked me in the eye and said, “That. Is. Cindy. She’s quite a bitch, right?” It is one of those questions that I find the hardest to respond to. I just took a heavy sigh and stared at the gown on the mannequin. The fashion show is a few days away, leaving most of us simmering in tension, excitement and much agitation. Alamak! Who says fashion is all about glamour anyway?  

*as usual, names were changed to protect their privacy

28 May 2011


It must be every young girl’s fantasy to tackle something that is pretty, sparkling, fluffy and lace-y. The sweet romance that this fairy tale gown evokes simply makes my nimble hands tremble in delight as I begin to embellish it one 3-centimeter sized sequin at a time. My left forefinger sweats in excitement every time it picks up a sequin or two from the cup, transferring it onto the needle on my right hand that’s eagerly anticipating.

Ella Fitzgerald’s trademark jazz reverberates across the atelier which makes my humming to her lyrics inevitable. It is during such moments at daytime that I get to focus intently on this therapeutic process that is hand-sewing. I can do this all day. For what can be more ideal than participating in your own dreams and fantasies with full consciousness? As the wedding gown that I am working on lies submissively on the table, I am beginning to infer that there is one thing that can make this living-my-dream declaration even more rewarding. Wearing a self-made wedding gown to my own wedding, what else! Preposterous Idea Alert… Preposterous Idea Alert…

Thankfully, I poked my thumb at the right moment. Still in denial that I am unconsciously getting better in my Singlish, I muttered a heartfelt “Aiyohhh!” Suddenly I am awakened from my own dream within a dream state. It is at this point that The Designer noticed me and casually remarked “You’re so skinny… you don’t eat much?” I know it sounds a bit unrealistic to retort how much of a meat-eater and carbs-gobbler I am. And that I find trying to put on weight more difficult than, say, being constrained in a medieval corset all week. But having been asked countless times by different individuals, my honest auto-response answer would always be along that line.

He approached me from behind to check on my progress. He bent down to scrutinize how I have been treating the delicate tulle so far. “Wrong already…” he calmly declared. Somehow I wasn’t surprised and I knew that my amateur skills needed tough love. Caught up in the thrill of sewing on transparent sequins onto the designs, I didn’t realize that the thread is no longer neatly hidden among the embroidered lace flowers. It is one of those things that I would like to be considered as a vital mistake in the sense that experiencing it would and should lead to the furthering of one’s own passion. And an haute couture house wouldn’t be classified as such if not for the careful attention to detail, among other criteria.

It is romantic and ethereal. Yet the wedding gown is far from finished and lots of work still needs to be done. The hundreds of man-hours that are being devoted to this piece of art would culminate in the wedding day where the key ingredients of blood, sweat and blood stains tears will be aptly rewarded. But until that day comes, Rumplestiltskin’s elves shall continue to toil. Nonetheless, the premises of our atelier almost always make me feel that the world is at standstill. That whatever beauty or glamour I am surrounded with shall remain as such. That everything remains calm and orderly, permanently inspiring like that Fitzgerald serenade. But I might again be dreaming within a dream.

My housemate reminded me that our main tenant’s lease is expiring in a few days and we will eventually start looking for a new flat. We are lucky that good friend Angel allowed us to rent her room for a month until we found a more proper place. Marie and I will be waking up to the quaint streets of Tiong Poh once again. A dream-catcher is in order.