What does depression feel like?

Maybe it’s just mental fatigue. Of throwing yourself over and over again at an endless wave of obstacles, challenges, things to do, that seemingly require more and more energy to accomplish.

Everyone recharges, but maybe the battery just decides to run flat one day. And you’re left there, empty and exhausted.

And you wonder – why am I trying so hard? What’s the whole point of this? Why is life so hard?

That’s probably why talking about shit that goes on in life is important – venting helps one recharge and let go of that negative energy, and move on to the next day.

I love you 3000.

What a film. Despite the smorgasbord of spoilers I read online prior to the watch, nothing was ruined during the actual watch for Avengers: Endgame. Nothing could diminish the brilliance of the actual execution.

And this song: It’s Been A Long Long Time – love it. Shame it wasn’t included in the Endgame OST. (I know it’s in the Winter Soldier OST, but still.)

Never thought that you would be 
standing here so close to me 
there’s so much I feel that I should say 
but words can wait until some other day

Kiss me once, then kiss me twice
Then kiss me once again
It’s been a long, long time
Haven’t felt like this, my dear

Since I can’t remember when
It’s been a long, long time
You’ll never know how many dreams
I’ve dreamed about you

Or just how empty they all seemed without you
So kiss me once, then kiss me twice
Then kiss me once again
It’s been a long, long time

On gratitude

Just some random thoughts while driving back from lunch today.

Watching Shea Serrano just Venmo money to people randomly just because they need just that little bit more to get by. Just a good dude leading a bunch of great people, doing awesome things.

An r/melbourne post about advice for free food or super cheap food.

There were a lot of lovely people who commented in that thread, ranging from suggestions on spots to get free meals, to offers on free groceries, some who offered to spot him some cash, and even someone from out of town, who offered free lunch in exchange for some advice on places to visit.

I was in the middle of lunch, and it really got me thinking – do I need to spend on what I usually spend? There is so much unnecessary spending that goes on. I finished up my meal, wandered around the mall a bit and ended up not spending anything else. Even though I was tempted to catch Endgame today. Even though I was feeling like that Boost juice today, or even just some OJ. Shut it all down.

It reminded me of days past, when I was at home taking care of the daughter back in 2012. On how I had to be so, so mindful about spending on anything, because I didn’t know when my next cent was coming from. It’s tough to actually commit to spending needlessly, if you don’t have any income. To be fair, V was still working, and to say she was running a tight ship was a mild understatement. Most ideas I had started and ended with her saying, “well there’s only me working right now so…”

But this isn’t a post about poverty alone. It’s my thoughts about being grateful. I’m happy that I’m in good health, that the family is in good shape, and our finances aren’t in horrible shape. I can actually afford to get most of whatever I need, and do most of whatever I like.

I have a comfortable job that I’m happy with, at a workplace that’s got good people, and I’m doing something on the side that’s making a difference. (Granted, it’s not anything altruistic, but it’s something that could change the lives of aspiring writers.)

It’s a reminder to myself to be thankful, to spend less, to buy less, and to share the love when the occasion arises.

From Singaporean to Australian: A brief guide on renouncing Singapore citizenship

Just thought it’d be handy to document it all.

Caveats apply, no comments here on:

  • Why you should keep your Australian PR and remain a Singaporean
  • Why you shouldn’t juggle both Australian and Singaporean passports
  • Why Singapore is better than Australia and vice versa
  • Handling Singapore property
  • Applying citizenship for dependents

Timelines provided are from my experience, YMMV.

1. Qualify for Australian citizenship

Requirements change, so always check the official source.

Be Australian

Take the Australian citizenship interview and test.

Attend the ceremony, take the oath.

Tip: Google for citizenship test quizzes, practice. You’ll be fine – chao mugger Sinkies are good at this.

Timeline: eight months, from application to ceremony invitation.

Apply for an Australian passport

This is relatively easy – refer to official source.

2. Renounce Singapore citizenship

Fill the form up – refer to official source, ICA in this case.

When in doubt, contact the Canberra Singapore embassy at CitizenService_CBR@mfa.sg

Head down to ICA in Singapore, or to the Singapore embassy in Canberra. Drop forms and documents off.

Tips:

  • It’ll be the last time you see your NRIC and passport. Take a photo for remembrance!
  • You’ll need to get your Australian citizenship certificate and passport notarised.
  • The ICA department handling renunciation is not accessible via escalator, only by lift.

Timeline: three months from application to receipt of letter in the post.

3. Apply for CPF withdrawal

Fill the form up – refer to official source, CPF in this case.

Mail the form in, or do it in person at a CPF branch in Singapore.

Tips:

  • Do not update your Singapore bank accounts details post-citizenship change, until funds hit the account. Do not over-complicate matters!
  • Yes, you get everything back – OA, SA, MA.
  • Yes, you can also have it transferred to an Australian bank account. Refer to link above.
  • Download and save all statements from CPF website before application.
  • Again, YMMV. The amount of work done at the counter, at the CPF branch convinced me I would’ve fucked this up massively, had I done it myself and mailed it in.

Timeline: two months, from application to receipt of letter in the post. Funds hit bank account around same time.

4. Handling CPF tax

Talk to a qualified tax accountant.

For a very rough idea of how it should be handled (disclaimer: this should not be treated as official tax advice):

Q: When doing Australian tax assessments, how is CPF handled?

Interest earned on CPF is taxable.

Q: How do I calculate amount to be declared on the tax return? Is the entire $X liable for tax? Or is it only the amount that enters Australia? Or Is it taxed based off interest earnings on the CPF account only?

The only taxable amounts are interest income and 50% of capital gains.

Here’s a reference to the official source, ATO in this case.

What do dreams actually mean?

A badly woven tapestry. Lingering phantasms, long-forgotten thoughts, that stealthily creep into a mind otherwise occupied?

An alternate reality, a parallel universe, where maybe, is how it’s meant to be?

Simple chemicals, mixing their magic, firing neurons otherwise? Invisible fireworks, stirring the imagination into a miasma of furious activity?

It truly makes one wonder.

And then I wake up, and look around. Everything is, as it should be. And I’m content once again.

I bid a fond farewell to those unbridled fantasies. Adieu, until our next sojourn. May the dream run its full course, come into full fruition, and its true measure. Show me the impossible, what reality deems an impasse.

The end of the lifting era – for a while, at least.

2019 marks the stoppage of life at the gym at lunch hour.

I’d skipped two weeks earlier in the year, when attending to my grandmother’s funeral. Upon returning home, the lassitude persisted, and I missed another week – this really stank, in my mind. The only times I’d ever missed that many days, was during my annual US trips, and even then I’d made sure to hit the gym after two weeks.

Another thing that really got me though, was the lack of feedback I’d been getting from my trainer. Granted, I was paying for a training regime and diet plan more than anything else, but the strange absence of a “hey mate, noticed you hadn’t done any sessions in three weeks, is everything fine?” just felt, empty. It felt like I was paying money every week for literally nothing, and basically paying about three hundred bucks a month to get myself measured, have a short chat to make myself feel better, and get an updated meal/training plan. So, to make matters easier, I cut the subscription right there. There’s no point in continuing something if the dissonance isn’t going away.

I also took the opportunity to cut my gym fees.

There were a couple of reasons (read: excuses) that went into this decision. V wasn’t having the greatest time at work, and I was subconsciously thinking about ways to reduce expenditure, and every cent counted. So little things like replanning my meal prep budget (less meat, more beans) to cutting monthly overheads – I was just getting ready in case shit did hit the fan.

Also, I’d never really liked compound movements, even though they’re the most efficient workouts by far. I would get ankle and knee soreness from squatting whenever I began pushing heavy. Deadlifts weren’t too bad, but I would often have some faint paranoia of fucking it up and getting a slipped disc or two lingering in the back of my mind.

And to be honest, I’d always liked bodyweight exercises more, and had been trending that way before I began training with Tyson a couple of years back.

My current theory: TUT (time under tension) with bodyweight should achieve hypertrophy. Also, work on core! Get stronger.

So, back it is. I’m focusing on supersets of:

  • slow pushups (3120) x15
  • slow chinups (2030) x5
  • resistance band OHP x10
  • pushups on bosu ball x 5

And on the alternate days, core training in the form of planks, suspended seats on pushup bars, pistol squats on bosu ball, and slow stretches with a wooden stick, and also some yoga.

Something I really miss though – a dips station. John’s recommended diamond pushups, I’ve seen something else called the triceps bow that’s a serious PITA, these will be incorporated.

It doesn’t feel like I’ve lost much mass, still hovering at 71.5kg right now. And I don’t look too different. We’ll see how this works out.

The neverending journey on tactfulness

Growing up, I’ve always been rather blunt and heavy-handed, whenever it came to communication. Straight to the point, no bullshit, et cetera. You have to imagine that I offended my fair share of folks along the way. I had my ideal vision on right and wrong, and was rather quixotic about the entire principle.

Growing up, I learnt that life comes in more shades than black and white, and that a lot of the time, the answer doesn’t even lie in being right. It comes back to having a positive outcome, figuring out what’s next, and making things better for the long run.

So, it’s been a path of learning to communicate in a more tactful, polite manner. Of learning patience. Of learning to view things from the other side, on understanding that my view may not always be the best view. There’s a time and place for an efficient approach, and times when a more human, kinder manner is needed.

We could all use a softer landing when we mess up, and that’s part of the perspective I’ve learnt. Focus on how we can make things better, rather than point the accusatory finger.

Tact aside, responsibility is responsibility, and it doesn’t help when the problem is not addressed in a direct, prompt manner, and action taken to remediate the root cause.

Address the fault, acknowledge it in an honest manner, put your hand up and say “yup, this is on me”, and let’s work on making things better.

IMO, the true mark of excellent team culture lies in the ability to look past slights, into honest exchanges and acknowledging without bias, the actions that need to be taken to make things better.