The speech I’d like to give some day.

7 November in 2015, turned out to be quite a remarkable day.

One of my best friends got married at long last, and my brother finally took that big step and moved out into his own apartment today.

Funny how shower thoughts work, but the two storylines became an amalgam while I was unwinding from the day. What would I say, if I had to give a speech at my brother’s wedding?

Some things come to mind.

In our younger days, I had to get down to school every evening and bring him home. He did a runner one time and I was scared shitless because I couldn’t find him anywhere in school. He turned out to be at the nearby convenience store, bawling his eyes out and trying to ring home.

Ice cream solves a lot of problems when you’re a kid, one of them being crying. It also sidestepped the minor inconvenience of me facing hell at home, had my mum known I’d nearly lost her younger son right then. It’s still a very important lesson I hold dear, now that I have my own kids.

That got better, as he got older. I remember shadowing him from a distance after school to make sure he got home the right way, and checked the roads for traffic before he crossed. Just to be sure.

Growing up has been a long and bumpy process for this fellow.

My brother tends to think with his heart more than his brain a lot of days – he dives into things headlong, smashes into brick walls before he learns, and experiments too much. I call him a floating cloud. That being said, he can never be faulted for not caring, because he does.

I know of a lot of siblings who never got along really well. Stan and I, never really had that problem, especially as he got into his teens and beyond. We spent a lot of time together as we got older and we would talk. It would be me strolling into his room at random, or us just getting a bite of supper together. We yakked about everything and anything, from music to books to manga to work to #lifeprotips, and obviously girls too.

He’s not perfect, but the one thing about this guy is, he might not understand, but he always listens, with the goal of getting better every day. That’s a good thing in my books, and all I can say is, I’m really proud to have him as my brother. My mum says he’s like a son to me, and in some ways, he really is. I’ve shared so much of my thoughts and experiences with him over these years, and have been a major influence on his life, it’d be a lie if I said I wasn’t pleased with the way the boy’s become a man who thinks on his feet and knows to plan, and is obviously the life of the party all the time. Never seen that before? You obviously have never seen the drunk version of Stan the Man.

Would I do anything for him? Yes. There wouldn’t even be a moment’s hesitation between the question and my answer. There’s nothing to explain, it’s just how it is.

And this day, I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out. May the happy couple have a long and blissful journey ahead, and to my sister-in-law: you chose… wisely. That’s an Indiana Jones reference by the way.


Stolen moments

The human mind as usual, is complex.

My own mind, burns with cold logic and rationality on most days, and stays insufferably confused in that minority, when muddled emotions skitter around in an uncertain manner.

Reading old diary entries makes me realise again, just exactly how much one’s memories fade over the years. The present is moulded by decisions from the past, and it’s fascinating to see how unconscious habits of today were consciously shaped by decisions I made so long ago.

Take for instance, the way I stylise a particular name on the annual birthday cards. I’d always assumed it was a whimsical thing I did on the fly, but the entry I reread last night, makes it clear that I’d actually given thought into the initial design, a good twenty years ago. I’m mildly impressed with 17 year old me.

“But one thing that really captivates me is her smile. Or her laugh, for that matter. Watching her really makes me forget my own problems.”

Of course, nothing ever goes quite the way we want it to, especially the tender unrequited dreams of youth. We’ve all grown up and moved on, and life continues at its own pace.

At the same time, I guess some things never really change.

I told Stan about my theory the other day, about how one’s spouse is never the perfect half, the romantic “You complete me” moment of realisation we hear about in Hollywood, when one person finds his soulmate. I’ve never quite had that, and I suspect most other people don’t. I make it work by spending time with other wonderful souls, those lovely people that complete me in their own special way.

To be clear, I’m not alluding to any form of physical communion –too much of that excessively principled boy who’s always fearful of doing the wrong thing, remains in me to ever attempt something fatally irresponsible– but rather something more spiritual. It’s the simple joys of enjoying each other’s company. The warmth of reunion in a hug. Reliving shared memories, ranting about life. The fun in singing a duet just right. The pleasure of sharing good food together. Smiling at old punchlines, or that well-remembered pout that makes me fondly smile. The satisfaction of a deep conversation, something that goes beyond the usual banal topics. Being able to trust and confide, share little secrets you can’t tell anyone else. Chuckling at a good joke you can both appreciate equally well. Looking into someone’s eyes and just listening, without judging. Being able to agree at times, disagree at others, and also share a viewpoint without being overly insistent on being right. Laughter and smiles, thoughtful gestures, simple yet priceless gifts I hold so dear.

I call them stolen moments, a reprieve from my daily grind.

Honestly, I count myself a lucky man. Most married men never get the luxury of having relationships like these. They devote themselves to their other half, and that’s that.

I have an understanding spouse, two children who have turned out pretty well so far, a decent job, and life in a country I’ve always hoped to live in someday.

And I have these other people I share something special with.

Life is never simple, isn’t it? I feel like I’m in one of the best situations I could have ever hoped for, but yet I dream about something that will never come into being. The only time I can consummate such fancies, is in the hidden domain of my nocturnal dreams, where I can live out those irrational lives and pretend it is all real. Just for those brief moments.

I remain thankful of their presences in my life, and will do all I can to keep things as they are.

It doesn’t stop those dreams, however. And I suspect it never quite will.

If my kids ever read this, just know that I kept my old diaries, so that you can read them and perhaps gain a measure of understanding about how your father was like, and how his thoughts shaped the person he eventually came to be.

Signing off in the manner of old, NMTR.

(No More To wRite. Why the R, and not a W, young me?)

17 Nov 2018, on board a flight home.

Getting things done: a self-fulfilling cycle of energy

The hardest step, as always is the first one.

Once you start on it though, the drive and momentum to get things done grows with every passing task completed.

I’m not sure about everyone else, but personally, I feel burdened and drained when I know there are too many things to be done. Ticking them off my list, gives me a sense of accomplishment and energy to get onto the next one. Otherwise, I slump in a puddle of ineptitude and sloth.


The journalism grind is real.

This is nothing new, but seeing as the topic has been a recurring theme all day long, so I’d figured I might as well put all of these together.

Firstly, via the Locked on Celtics podcast (21 Jul), by John Karalis and Jay King. These guys are two of my favourite Celtic writers, especially Jay in his early days with CelticsTown.

Little side story: John probably doesn’t remember this, but I reached out to him for advice on Twitter DM back in 2012, when I was starting out.

In his words: “It’s a lot of hard work but if you’re dedicated you will be fine.”

He wasn’t kidding about hard work. I’ve kept his words in mind throughout these years running The Pick and Roll, through all those long nights. Hard work, check. Dedicated, definitely check.

Jay on the other hand, offered some really good advice on what to expect, when I checked in with him prior to my first game under media credentials – always very thankful for that.

Back to the podcast. Jay was talking about how he got to where he is now with MassLive, and ended the tale with some advice:

“… that’s the really lucky story of how I got to where I am now. If you want advice, the only thing I’ll say is work don’t be afraid to write for free, you have to to get your name out there, write for blogs. Just build up your resume and keep working as hard as you can.”

John pretty much agreed, and expanded on the thought.

“I would say the same thing. Nowadays, there is such an advantage… This is a very competitive field, and covering sports has so many similarities to playing sports. Where it’s hyper-competitive, there are limited spots, there are millions of people who want to get those limited spots.

… If you’re listening, trying to start your career in this: Jay is absolutely right. work work work work work work. Do a lot of work. Write. Start a blog. Write for a blog. Ask to join a blog… get paid nothing. Or get paid a little bit – it’s easier when you’re younger, and you don’t know what it’s like to have money, so you can go and piece together a career, by writing for – three hours on one site, and two hours on another site, and three hours on another site. You get your name out there, and you learn. You submit your stuff to editors, they will make corrections, you look at what the corrections are, and then you do it.

… If you can understand that you don’t know everything, then you’re a pretty damn smart person. Because that allows you to take in suggestions, and work those into your professional life and the things that you do on a daily basis, and then you personally will become better, at whatever it is you do.”

Jay rounded it off with this:

“Opportunities are tough, tough tough tough tough in this business, but just keep working until you get it, and prepare yourself for the opportunity.”

Then, from Jalen Rose on the Jalen & Jacoby Show (20 July):

“And you know what gets lost amongst those that become successful? All the sacrifices and discipline that they had to endure, in order to get to that point.

Like people we joke a lot about this show, about us not doing any work, or things of that nature. But you don’t get to this point if you don’t decide to outwork people.”

See a recurring theme here?

I was shown this article later in the day, and Robert Silverman made perfect sense.

There are just too many people out there who love watching games and think that with a bit of luck and a lot of bootstrap-pulling they could become the next Bill Simmons or Zach Lowe or any number of guys who started out as mere bloggers and are now considered leading lights in the industry.

Writing takes discipline. It takes commitment. But even when you check the boxes, it isn’t as easy as that. You need to differentiate yourself by getting ahead of the average writer who doesn’t have a unique voice. You need to get lucky, you need to know people – pick two of three. But before all of that, the basic criteria comes down to this: plain hard work.

And this quote from Matt Moore (love the guy) just hit the spot, right there. Right up my alley.

Moore: Write. Write all the time. The best thing you can do to make yourself better is to write about as many things as possible. It helps with honing what you do, it helps with building an audience, and it helps with figuring what you do well and what you enjoy doing.

Maybe you don’t like doing play breakdowns but you love esoteric discussion. Maybe you’re not crazy about cap talk but you get really into X’s and O’s. And the only way to keep yourself as part of the discussion is to write. When I was supremely frustrated with my inability to get a gig in late 2009 (AFTER ONLY TWO YEARS WRITING!), Tom Ziller gave me some great advice. Quit whining and write. What you’re doing isn’t enough? Write more. Because that’s the only thing you can control.

I’ve always maintained that the only thing you can control in any situation is yourself. You can’t control the opportunities that happen, you can only make the best with what you have, and stay prepared for anything that comes by. What you get is proportional to what you invest – the harder you work, the more you’ll get out of it. Be it an improved voice, consistent writing, or simply an expanded audience, something will fall through.

Basically: never get discouraged. Keep grinding, until something good happens. If you don’t prove your worth, nothing is going to ever happen. Only by consistently proving your value, developing your voice, and expanding your network, do you have a shot at making something happen.

Yes, journalism is a grind. It’s tough to even get your foot in the door, and it takes a crazy amount of effort when you’re actually working. It’s exciting as hell, it’s never boring, and it does sap the life out of you. But if you’re ready to put your money where your mouth is, you do it.

Don’t get envious. Don’t get down. Get even.



“Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” – Mark Twain.

A rather pointless exercise, but one most of us can’t help doing. I live by a simple axiom that limits the amount of worrying I do.

If there is anything I can do to influence the outcome, it stays on my mind.


If things are out of my control? I stop worrying. The. End.

Of the most beautiful phase

A lot of people speak of a woman’s wedding day as the the time when she looked her best. It could be true, but I’m inclined to disagree.

In all honesty, my wife wasn’t at her best on our wedding day. She was tired from staying up the night before. Getting an early start with all the make up, hair and so on was a grind. Add the fact that she was dressed in a wedding gown, trying to tahan the chills of that morning and looking forward to GTFO (if I might put it crudely), didn’t do any wonders for her disposition. Nevertheless, she looked fine in the photographs, and that’s all that matters when memories fade eh?

To me, V was always at her most beautiful during the later phase of pregnancy. The radiance of impending motherhood puts an indescribable hue onto her countenance.

Well of course, there is that Neanderthal feeling of satisfaction I get (“THAT THUNG GROWING INSIDE HER? I HAD A PART OF IT! RAWWRRR GRUNT OOMPH *THUMPS CHEST*) on a job well done, but that’s not it.

I love the feel of her growing belly, feeling the skin move with new life beneath. Those might not be Upton-esque curves, but there is just that indefinable glow that seems to shine forth. The way she gently pats her swollen belly, as if reassuring the little boy within, holds a sense of calm about it.

I’m not going to lie about the bad parts of it (throwing up, inability to sleep through the night, waddling with all that extra weight), but the thought that she’s willing to bear it all for the sake of bringing a new life —our new life– into this world, makes her that much more beautiful in my eyes.

So the little one is due in less than a month, and we’re all waiting. Just for now though, I’d like to dedicate this day to the woman who’s shared the past eight years of her life with me, and years to come.

Happy Valentine’s Day V. I’m not the best writer out there, but this is all I’ve can come up with. Love you, and thank you for being with me all this time.

Where the memories are, and doing what feels right.

One of the things I miss most about Singapore, is being able to cycle around the neighbourhood, feeling the cool breeze and enjoying the peace of the night.

On my way home just now, taking a detour to take in more of the neighbourhood sounded like a good idea, and before I knew it, I was back at my old block. So many memories. Of learning to cycle at the void deck. Playing catching after taekwondo class at the nearby block. Pushing through the bushes underneath the overhead bridge, and imagining it to be a secret base of ours. Snacks from the Indian mama shop right behind. The countless times of cycling around the place, every turn and slope was deeply ingrained; I was operating on instincts.

I smiled when I got to this cycling path that used to be a really steep slope (but has been revamped into a gentle one now), because a certain daredevil (or brainless idiot, depending on how you look at it) at the invincible age of 11, decided it would be an absolutely brilliant feat to cycle down that precarious slope at top speed – without hands. Needless to say, I ended up losing control and sprawled in a heap on the floor, fortunately getting out easy with only a scraped knee.

This was home for almost fifteen years, and I still miss it.

Onwards, to the place that held so many cherished memories amidst mindless drudgery: Ngee Ann Secondary School. It’s funny how a building can evoke an aching, almost painful yearning in the heart for days that are long past. The basketball court that I spent countless hours at, rain or shine. Walking down the same old path to school five, six days a week. Frantic copying of homework before morning assembly. Magic: The Gathering sessions in the canteen. Spraining my wrist on the same damn court because I tripped on the edge of the court (idiot.)

Remembering the days back then. Swimming training was three days a week, Red Cross took Saturdays away. Between those two ECAs, school and homework, the days just whizzed by. The best part was probably the Swim Camps, when all of us had so much fun. The endless blackjack sessions. The morning training. The insomnia. The barbeque sessions. The Emil Chau songs. The night walk to Changi Airport. The performances. The nights when we would sneak out of school and grab a bite (and Jolly Shandy) at Tampines Mart.

To this day, I still kick myself for some of the juvenile, tactless and supremely stupid things from back then, but the fondness of fun times outweigh the dumb moments of course. If only, there was some way I could revisit some of those days.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m a nostalgic who reminiscences about past days too much. There are just too many memories for me here to ever move away from the place. I’m pretty sure if I’d continued to stay in Singapore, I would’ve eventually just gotten a place right here, rather than follow the inevitable trend of moving to Sengkang/Punggol, as many of my generation have done. Then again, we’ll never know, since it hasn’t happened. It sounds like an fascinating alternate reality though.

While many people would label me as a planner, it is interesting to note that my personality actually swings in the other direction. Over the years, I’ve led my life largely on faith and trusted my instincts, going by what I felt was right, much more than pragmatic decision-making like weighing the scales, noting the facts and numbers and coming up with a practical decision.

For example, what kind of flaming idiot would actually quit his job, get a loan, leave the comforts of a wonderfully familiar environment behind and fly to Australia, having only the “plan” (if you could even call it that) to finish a final university semester and then literally wing it and find some way to stay on, simply because it “felt like the right time” to do so? Utterly un-Singaporean-like, if I might say so.

Or for that matter, quitting a stable full-time job to be a domestic dad for nine months? I’m glad V has been supportive on (most of) my decisions, although you could imagine the kind of grousing that went on in her head.

Looking back now, I’m really glad everything worked out, but had I actually paused to contemplate the enormity of that decision to move to Australia back then, it would have probably made next to zero sense. Could it possibly have stopped me in my tracks though? Nah.

Fortune favours the bold, and I like to think it looks kindly on lucky fools like me as well. There’s good, and there’s lucky; I’d pick lucky over good any day. I’ve always been a firm believer in the fact that destiny has its plan for me, and that I am walking in the forest of life, sauntering along a path that has been waiting for me all along, and is revealing itself to me, a few steps at a time. All I have to do, is to trust myself and pick the right trail when the crossroads come along.

Keep walking, keep trusting. Happy New Year’s Eve, 2013.