Midday, Humpday Reflection: Boobs

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I was inspired by the nymag.com article to draw my own pair

This is a somewhat odd, middle of the week post. I don’t usually overshare personal reflections in this blog, but I just came across the article, “New York Women Draw Their Own Boobs” on nymag.com, which amused me. Reading it, I had an immediate flashback to my mom, getting dressed. I don’t know if she would appreciate me sharing this, but she’s not shy about getting dressed in front of her kids, even now that we’re grownups. When she needed to take off or put on a top, for instance, and we happened to barge into her bedroom to ask her something or talk to her, she would just blithely go on doing what she was doing, without self-consciousness, as if it were perfectly natural for her kids to see her naked. And we all got used to it, growing up. It was just mom being mom.

I guess because of her attitude that I never really had a complicated relationship with my own breasts. And I’d get really weirded out by friends who had such angst over theirs. To me, they were just there — a part of me — or not part of me. Maybe because I was a late bloomer. Growing up, and up until I was in my early 30s, I was really thin and didn’t have much by way of “boobage”… I remember a gay college classmate telling me one day, while I was wearing a really nice sundress, “It’s a good thing you have hips and a butt, because you would just be stick straight.” He meant it as a compliment. I could wear a tank top, no bra (though I didn’t. It wasn’t exactly frowned upon, but my mom insisted on a bra always when I was out and that stuck) and jeans and traipse around the campus, with no one bothering me. Contrast this to a good friend who would wear oversized T-shirts and roundnecked shirts because she developed early and was always conscious that guys were staring at her breasts. The fact that she was also drop-dead gorgeous might have something to do with it as well, but I remember she only fixated on her breasts, maybe because she got them a little too early.

I started getting them in my mid-30s when I started gaining weight and by then, I was enough of my own person that they never really impinged on my life, until those times when they would become the focus. Like when I’d catch guys staring or the boyfriend would say that he likes them. Or when girl friends would comment, “Shit, Terrie, you have big boobs!” as if they themselves were suddenly made aware of these apparitions. Or when we’d all good-naturedly compare our sizes (the way young boys compared dicks) — and I’d humble-brag that they can be a hassle. The only time that I was embarrassed about them was during a trip. A friend and I were at a resort, where Another Friend (AF) and her husband and their friends were staying. We were going to have dinner with them. Because it was an informal dinner and we had just come from swimming, my friend and I just put on coverups and off we went. I remember AF had this odd look on her face when she greeted me. Didn’t think much of it at that time, until she suddenly blurted out when we were having cocktails, “Gosh, Terrie, your boobs are really huge! I wish I could borrow them!” and all of a sudden, my breasts seemed to be the focus of the evening! The moment got glossed over, of course. But I was self-conscious the whole evening after that.

But that was only one of a few times. Most of the times, my boobs and I get along extremely well. Sometimes I wish they were smaller, but that’s only because I couldn’t fit into an outfit I wanted — they can sometimes get in the way — which can be a problem for someone who occasionally obsesses about clothes like I do. (Though, I don’t think it’s my problem, as much as it is more a reflection of how the fashion industry is still grappling with the diversity of women’s sizes — but that’s another story for another time.) But then, I learned — and am still learning — to complement my figure in my fashion choices.

So boobs. Yes, I have them. And yes, I like mine, thank you very much! And yes, this is a strange thing to be thinking about in the middle of the workday, but there you go. These things happen.

F1 Rush

Because Captain Mal (my mac) was sidelined for months, I’m playing catch up with posts in the next few weeks….

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The race cars were so fast that the photos I took of them were a blur. This is probably the best one

The last time I watched F1 was in 2009, during the second year of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix and my first year in Singapore as the editor of a travel magazine. One of the hotels invited a few editors into the McLaren enclosure because the McLaren group was billeted at their hotel. It was luxe personified, with white suited and white gloved waiters offering champagne and nibbles as you watched the race in airconditioned comfort. We even got to go down into the McLaren pit. Ahh, the perks of the job. It was a heady experience that I was glad I got to do, especially since I was not really a fan of racing and wouldn’t buy a ticket to the races if it were up to me. But, even if I weren’t a fan, there was no mistaking the energy and anticipation of fans who watched the race.

Flasforward to 2014. And here I am back on the track. I wasn’t a guest of a hotel this time, but had accompanied D, who is an F1 fan and his friend. I still wasn’t a fan, but as in 2009, the excitement and anticipation was palpable. The races were exhilarating and it’s hard not to get caught up in the mania. The activities in between races were also fun, too. As far as I know, Singapore is the only leg of the F1 which goes all out with companion events to the race itself. So here are some pics:

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First night of the F1 weekend: At the Padang, with the Old Parliament Building as backdrop. This building will be opening soon as the Singapore National Gallery. On this night, it was majestically up in lights for the race.

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A part of the retelling of an old legend of the Lady in the Moon. Was not really listening much to the story, but the theatricality of it all was breathtaking. This performer was sailing up above the crowd in the field.

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Lady in the moon floating over the delighted crowd

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Parade of vintage cars and F1 drivers

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Crowd at the Padang. This would get even more crowded in succeeding nights

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All lighted up
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Part of the crowd on race night (Sunday). I loved the friendly rivalry that would erupt between groups of people. Our row (we were on the second row) was vocally cheering on Hamilton, while the first row were all Germans cheering on Rosberg. There were some close calls but Hamilton was just far enough ahead to eventually prevail. The noisy-but-good natured Germans in front of us lost, but they enjoyed the bantering.
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These cars were so freakin’ fast! My only pic of eventual winner Lewis Hamilton’s silver car going past

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The British flag was everywhere, in support of Brit Lewis Hamilton

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Post-race concert with Robbie Williams. Crowds waiting for the show to start. For non-F1 fans, this was the highlight of the evening. Even with the downpour (no pictures, alas!), Robbie delivered. Till next year, folks!

Well, I’m back….

…. again. Captain “I am to misbehave” Mal (my mac; and yes, I name my macs) was sidelined for months. The battery died and swelled up and I couldn’t find a replacement for a long time, until D ordered one for me from London. So what’s been going on? in my side of the woods, I’ve had to deal with some major issues at work, the scope of which won’t appear on this blog, but suffice to say, the conflagration was hard to put out. Been trying to exercise more (largely D’s doing; posting more on my activities in this regard soon) and traveling more (yay!).  In the next few days — or ok, maybe weeks — will be busy posting more entries — starting with this!
house arrest--books

Accomplishment: Finished (finally — after three years!) Stephen King’s Under the Dome! Wrote about this in an earlier post and back then, I was telling myself I would finish it, but ended up shelving it for other titles. So I finally finished it. So how was it? Hmmm, not as good as some of his other works. I get the impression it was some sort of thought experiment that went on too long. I don’t really regret reading it, but I can’t help feeling that it was a bit of a letdown. Still, and all, that’s a book off the book debt — though I’ve racked up several additions to the pile in the meantime!

Accomplishment: Finished The Rosie Project!  I love this book and I wish I had an actual physical copy! This was languishing in my e-book library and so one time that I was madly trying to finish an article but couldn’t, I procrastinated and read this in a day — in my cube! Best decision ever! It managed to get my brain un-stuck and distracted me so I was able to write my article better, after I’ve read it. Best procrastination ever!The Rosie Project is about Don, a geneticist who had problems finding a partner/wife so decided to design a questionnaire that would find him the perfect woman. Then he meets Rosie, who is totally unsuitable for him in every way. Needless to say, things do not go according to plan. It’s a light read, yet made me think about the choices we make and is a great commentary on the dating scene and the hoops people go through to find someone suitable. Go read it!

Weekend: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

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I’ve realized that I’ve been behind in my blog posts lately. I had planned to update more frequently, but you know how it is, life happens and somehow before I knew it, weeks have passed and I haven’t done a single entry (pop culture posts of videos and links somehow don’t count)! Mabel, a good friend and wonderful blogger (check out her blog here) said she missed my “walking around Singapore” entries, so I thought I’d post these images of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve today…. Actually, I had planned to post this a few weeks back, when I had the crazy idea of downloading and filing all my photos from the phone, but got sidelined because of a bum back (more on this in a future post).

A bit about Sungei Buloh and the images here: Most people have an image of Singapore as a city of futuristic buildings and high-rises and fabulous malls, and they’d be half right. If there’s ever a city of the future, where things run smoothly, Singapore is it. It’s not the place people think of when they want to head out into the wilderness or go bird-watching in the wilds. But what most people don’t know is that Singapore does have nature reserves and wetlands. One of these is Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, an 87-hectare nature park that’s home to migratory birds, otters, monitor lizards, mangroves and other flora and fauna.

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One of the many boardwalks in the reserve. This one leads further into the mangrove area

These images were taken more than a year or so back (!!) when I assigned one of my writers to do a piece on the park for one of the publications my firm produces. I came along because I was curious about the place and it was a good chance to see a part of Singapore that not many people know about. Most of the images are of the scenery because it was hard to take photos of the mudskippers with a phone and the birds, which we could see in the mudflats were just too far out to take photos of clearly. However, for me, just being around this much untamed greenery was enough.

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A bend in the river. Going around, we spied a dock with some boats, though we were not sure if visitors can hire boats to take them further into the wetlands

Within the reserve, there are three trails you can follow, depending on the time you have and also your capacity to walk around in humidity and heat, which can be stifling to those not used to Singapore’s tropical weather. The best time to explore it would be ideally early to mid-morning or mid-afternoon to around 5pm, when the sun theoretically won’t be too hot. We opted to explore it around 11sh to 2pm, arguably not the best time, but the heat was bearable. It helped that there were a lot of trees, though, because we were in the wetlands, the humidity was terrific! Bring a small towel or lots of wet wipes/tissues!

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Typical dirt path around the reserve. Wear sensible sneakers/sandals/flipflops (not the Havaianas-type) because you will be doing a lot of walking. Bicycles are not allowed within the reserve, due to unevenness of some of the paths, which can change from this to a leaf-covered walkway to a bit more muddy areas

When we were there, there was a surprising number of visitors — well, surprising to me, because I didn’t really think it was the kind of place that attracted a lot of visitors. Shows you what I know! Even so, the number of people visiting would be a tiny fraction of the visitors who go to the zoo, Universal Studios, Sentosa or any of the attractions that Singapore has to offer, which is a pity really, because Sungei Buloh exudes its own quiet charm. Though I do get that for people who are not particularly fond of gazing at muddy waters just to spot a mudskipper and are more used to the accessible (i.e., corralled) animals at the zoo, this could prove to be a boring walk. When we were there, we’d encounter a few groups of people but most of the time, it seemed like we had the whole place to ourselves. All you’d hear are the rustling of leaves, chirping of birds and insects, the crunch of your footsteps on the path and yes, mosquitos and bugs buzzing around — nature up close and personal.

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Another view of the mangroves and river

As I mentioned, there are three routes to follow once you’re in the reserve. We opted to do the one-to-two hours walk. If you’re a big enough group, and want to maximize your time there, the reserve provides a guided tour for a fee. There are also free guided tours on Saturday mornings. But I much prefer to just explore things on my own so we set out to do just that. Now, the thing with going about on your own is that there’s a danger of getting lost — despite the clear signages and paths — and I think we doubled back a few times on certain areas, and had a longer walk than we should have done. But I’ve always believed that getting lost and straying from the planned paths make for a more interesting journey as it proved to be in this case. We went into blinds to observe monitor lizards sunning themselves in the sun, checked out mudskippers and mangroves, and saw herons in the distance. The only animals we didn’t get to see were the otters!

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We heeded this warning, of course! We didn’t get to see one though, much to my relief and regret

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On the mangrove boardwalk, which is about 500 meters long and stretches into the, well, the mangrove reserve

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Into the woods…

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The view from one of the shelters

There are shelters and observation posts scattered throughout the reserve where visitors can sit and take a breather or just admire the view. This one is right in the middle of the mangrove trail, where the trees were thick enough to make the area seem gloomy.

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The view of the area from one of the observation towers

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View from Bliss cafe at the end of the walk, where you can have a snack or a meal while watching birds and monitor lizards. However, I just checked the Sungei Buloh website, which says that this cafe is already closed. It seems that an upgrading of the area is underway and the Kranji Nature Trail is closed. However, you can still go into the reserve and visit the mangrove boardwalk and reserve areas.

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Outside the cafe, this monitor lizard, almost like an ambassador for the reserve, basks in the sun to see us off! Thanks for visiting!

 

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Important info:

How to get there: Take the MRT to Kranji station (red line). From there, you can take a taxi, which will take you to the entrance or take Bus 925
Reminders:
1. Wear comfortable and breathable clothing. You’re going to get hot and sweaty walking around. There are going to be mosquitoes and bugs, so slather yourself with anti-mozzie lotion to keep them away.
2. Wear comfortable shoes you can walk around in. This is not the time to be rocking those cute thin-strapped sandals. Sneakers, running/hiking shoes, flipflops that are designed for a serious walk are best.
3. Wear a hat.
4. Bring a small towel/lots of tissues.
5. Bring a camera, some water, paper and pen (for when you get the urge to write about/draw your observations).
6. Because it’s a nature reserve, you might be tempted to bring your dog for a walk. Bad idea. Pets are not allowed.
7. Smoking is not allowed — nor are radios. Loud noises scare off the wildlife.
8. No littering (of course!)
9. Keep to the prescribed paths. You do not want to encounter a crocodile in the wild.
10. Have patience and be observant. This isn’t like the zoo where the animals are in enclosures and you can seen them almost on demand. Here, it could take awhile before a mudskipper, er, skips across the water, as what happened with us. Took us awhile to spot them. Similarly, we weren’t looking for monitor lizards, figuring since they were big, we’d spot them right away, but no. Unless they’re out in the open, like the one in the picture above, lying on the boardwalk, it’s hard to spot them. We almost missed some on the trail, so intent were we on our walk. A few were lying a few feet away from me at one point and it still took me awhile to spot them — good thing I was sitting behind a hide. I do not want to be sitting down out in the open only to discover a few of them a few feet away from me!