Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jumping up and down!

Yes, jumping up and down's what I was doing just now when I got the call with the news and even up till now, my heart is still jumping up and down with the occasional laughing out loud to myself.

¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸
> I'VE GOT A JOB!!! <
¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´

All my fears and worries have been allayed and I can FINALLY start to live my life as a normal person and NO MORE application for temporary jobs and checking online job sites every single night. (I have been doing that for Australian jobs for more than 1 year now ever since I started to apply for my PR!)

It has been a while since my heart got such a strong jolt of exhilaration and I believe everyone needs this kind of positive knock once in a while as a reminder that life is not only worth living but is worth fighting day and night for. It is the one moment where all of your hard work crystallizes into a climax of immeasurable ecstasy, giving you the boost to face even tougher challenges ahead of you.

I would like to thank all my friends and family who have been by my side even though you are all so far away, encouraging me and keeping my heart afloat all this time. You are certainly the best bunch around!

For those who would like to know, the role that I acquired is the Process Engineer position at WorleyParsons based in the Caltex Refinery (ie. in-house contractor). So in this role I will continue building on my Process Design experience from where I left off from my previous job. The refinery is in Kurnell, which is quite far away but there is a company shuttle that takes me directly to the refinery from 12 train stations away from Kings Cross where I currently live. I was told the working hours are from 0730hrs to 1530hrs, which means I have to wake up at 0500hrs. Well at least I get to leave rather early.

For now I will commute via public train/company shuttle till a possible relocation to somewhere nearer to the refinery. I need to discuss this further with Ision, who is seriously contemplating a career change at this moment. I also have 2 other job applications that might or might not be successful but if they are, I would then have more choices. As you can see, things are pretty volatile right now but at least one GI-NORMOUS load has been lifted off my chest and things ahead of us can finally start to get clearer. Well done Kimmy! Well done indeed!

And my heart is still jumping up and down!!!

The latest song

As you all know, I have been writing my own songs since I was 17 mainly as a means of documenting my life. It is like diary-writing but with an additional layer of emotion and colour that only comes with a song.

I have two dreams in my life and I am willing to give up one if the other comes true. These two dreams have been fuelling my existence for as long as I could remember. I have found my true love so I have decided to give up making it big in the music industry. At some points in my life, I would feel that finding true love is more difficult than becoming a star and vice versa at others. Now all that is finally over as I can put the other dream to rest (I’m still joining Australian Idol next year though).

However my song-writing should theoretically not stop since my life does not rest so I know I will continue writing songs. It is just that nothing really interesting is happening in my life right now and thus the empty diary. But let me share with you the last (Chinese) song that I have written.

Ever since I started long-distance relationships (not restricted to romantic ones), I have had the habit of writing a song whenever I take a flight either to meet or to leave a loved one as those were the times when emotions and inspiration run wild. The last flight I took was the one to Sydney and without fail, I popped out a song (I make it a point to always at least finish the lyrics by the end of the flight). There is no finalized tune to it yet (only a draft version) as I have been busy settling down. I know for sure by the time I finish the tune, I will no longer be able to reproduce the exact feeling at that moment so there very well might not be a tune for that song after all.

On the night of my departure as I went past the customs gate with the image of my family and friends starting to get smaller and smaller behind me, I was overwhelmed by a deluge of emotions. I continued to push on despite these hurdles in my heart clouding my sense of direction…



[不得已]

眼眶热了, 红了, 湿了
想不到泪水真的流出了
双手刚握住的拥抱呢
你的爱我心保存了

走着走着,双脚沉重了
但目光还是锁在前方的
这是我自己做的选择
想不到愿望真的实现了

一页页的回忆, 翻阅我脑海里
一年年的成长, 有你的呵护维系
没你的日子里, 我会照顾我自己
没我的日子里, 请不要垂头丧气

一页页的回忆, 翻阅我脑海里
一年年的成长, 有你的呵护维系
虽然是不忍心, 但却是不得已
我真要让你知道, 我真的很爱你



Loosely translated as...


[No Choice]

My eyes are getting warm, getting red and getting wet
I cannot believe tears actually fell
Where is the embrace I just held in my arms?
My heart is where I preserve your love

My legs are getting heavier as I walk
But I continue to look forward
This is the choice that I have made by myself
I just cannot believe my wish actually came true

Pages after pages of memories flipping in my head
Year after year growing up in your tender care
I will take good care of myself when you are not with me
Please do not feel dejected when I am not with you

Pages after pages of memories flipping in my head
Year after year growing up in your tender care
Although I cannot bear to do this, I have no other choice
I really want you to know that I love you very much


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My first Reiki experience

Maybe you do not know but Ision is a Reiki master and tonight I took the first step in wanting to and accepting a 15-minute session of energy healing from him as well as 2 other Reiki masters.

Within the first minute of Ision placing his hands on my face, I felt a strong wave of energy surging into me. It's very very hard to describe it because it was a feeling that I have not felt before. You must really feel it for yourself! Ision was actually surprised that I felt the energy so quickly. During that minute, I blurted out that it was very strong and Ision explained immediately that was because there were 3 Reiki masters giving me the healing. I found that I had to breathe faster otherwise my head would explode with that strong, pulsing and warm energy inside of it. It was amazing but then again "amazing" is not the correct word to use. The session certainly rid me of my skepticism about this whole energy/spiritual healing thing. I cannot explain it very well so you can visit Ision's blog (the link is provided below my profile picture) to learn more about Reiki.

I had so many questions to ask after the session and I asked them immediately when I had the chance to after describing to them what and how I felt. I told Ision at the moment I felt the surging energy, it was as if I was totally connected to him and that I felt love coming at me physically. It was like the love between us was increasing exponentially at that very instant. It made me want to cry there and then. Ision later explained that Reiki helps to channel love too (again I am not explaining it very well and using the correct terminology here).

Also, when one of the masters placed her hands on my legs, I felt warmth seeping into my bones all the way through. I thought to myself mere warmth from a person's hand will most certainly not be able to penetrate so deep and so there must surely be something more here and indeed there was. She felt that the energy around my knees was weak and I quickly attributed that to my regular jogging which must have strained my knees over time. Ision also felt my nasal area being weak (I have had nasal congestion problems for some time now). Ision added that Reiki is really good for pain-relief as well as other kinds of healing.

Reiki basically brings the body's energy into balance and as a result, you become more relaxed, calmer in your thoughts and feel as if nothing can irritate or bother you. I am really curious how much better I will feel after the session as Ision said if I have received a full hour of healing, the effects could last for up to 3 days! I do feel more relaxed now and Ision as well as the others have also noticed a dramatic clearing of my skin's redness and blotchiness although I could not see the difference as clearly as they did.

I am so glad that I have decided to put my skepticism aside and give Reiki a try. I am one of the biggest skeptic I know of and I am really convinced this time after a mere 15-minute session that Reiki is something that has extremely powerful effects (and yet being something very simple). I have yet to tap into much of that and also understand the different properties, functions and systems of Reiki and its relation to spirituality but I am positive that this is definitely going to be the start of a very interesting and potentially ground-breaking personal journey of discovery.

Monday, July 21, 2008

30 days and counting...

It has been a month since I have turned up Down Under and it is time now for me to rant a little.

The ExxonMobil depression has worn off by now primarily because I am still attending interviews. However after the two this week, I have no more permanent job interviews lined up and this is worrisome. To divert my attention from anxiety, I have stepped up temporary and casual job-application (I applied for 9 yesterday – mainly office administrative jobs). It is tough that you need previous experience even for casual jobs and agencies have told me that it is harder for a non-Australian to enter the Aussie workforce as locals tend to put specific Aussie experience in too high a regard. A consolation however is that once one gets a job, it is very much easier to get another one.

So apparently I just need to get my foot in the club door it seems…

When I was in Singapore, I planned to give myself 6 months here to land a good permanent job so to date, only 1/6 of that plan has failed so I should really not be jumping up and down like that fussing and fretting, should I? Those of you who know me will know that I just can’t put my mind at ease unless things happen exactly the way I want it to be.

Enough about jobs and the number one stress factor in my life right now. What else is happening Down Under you might wonder? Well World Youth Day (WYD) has just ended and thank goodness it is over. You must all have heard about the anti-annoyance law that the government tried to pass in an attempt to paint Sydney (or Australia for that matter) as a docile and God-fearing city/state. For those who still don’t know, the law gives law-enforcement officers the right to fine anyone who engages in behaviour that annoys pilgrims up to A$5,500. (Note: annoying behaviour ranges from wearing offensive T-shirts and handing out condoms to promote safe sex to protesting that the tax-funded WYD event is a big waste of money.) Come to think of it, I was rather shocked initially to learn that WYD would be held here for Sydney never gave me that religious an impression. I guess it is part of yet another government’s series of nation-building plans with or without public consent and understanding. The anti-annoyance law brought a lot of dissent and much upset and I was totally not surprised that it did. Sydney becoming as Draconian as Singapore is certainly not what I signed up for. As I was on the home-bound train from an interview packed with rowdy WYD youths, I was rather annoyed and was wondering if there were any law that could help me get some peace. If I had a religion, I would so be thanking its God that WYD is finally over.

Well that rant certainly made me feel better.

The weather has been fine for many days now and I really should be using this time to relax and enjoy myself as Ision’s friend told me I wouldn’t have such a chance to rest once I start work. Of course he is theoretically right but he fails to recognize that I am bleeding money and not earning it right now and R&R activities cost money! So I confine myself in the apartment except during times of jogging, gym, grocery-shopping and the rare going-out with Ision and his friends (to keep myself still sane). My life is really boring right now and utterly not representative of Sydney’s city life and not what I envisaged my life would be. To make matters worse, I have a webcam session with my mum tonight. I dread that because I have nothing positive to report and I would hate it if she feels that I am “suffering” here because of my decision to leave Singapore (ie. her).

Everyone has been telling me that things will go my way eventually. I truly believe that will happen. What I sorely need now is something no one can give me and that is patience…

(PS: Australian Idol is coming up and I see at least one Asian in it, maybe I do stand a chance next year after all!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

The feeling of a sinking heart

I have not felt this for a long time but today I got to feel it again. It is like riding a bike, you will never forget how it feels if you have felt that before.

The Melbourne job went to the other guy and yes he really does exist and not just someone the recruitment agency made up to keep me on my toes. I have failed myself this time although strictly speaking I have always felt that I would surely get the job only if there is no one else vying for that position. I have not devoted a lot of attention to building up my chemical engineering career and I guess this calls for the weight of the consequences crushing on me now.

I will not analyze what went wrong throughout the entire process for it is much too futile to do that now. I have learnt in life not to focus on something that cannot be helped or improved upon and only to look towards things that can. Most of the time this is easier said than done but some of the time, I succeed depending on how much of my eggs I have placed in the basket with the hole at the bottom.

I do have several job possibilities in the air but they are like seedlings that have just shed their seed coats. It will take much effort and time for them to grow into anything decent and this is the source of my upset at the moment. I have always hated and been phobic of being jobless trying to look for a job and now I am like an arachnophobe living at the edge of a large spider web, fearing and worrying about my prospects everyday.

I know Ision will find it hard to understand how I feel right now as he is always complaining that I am too negative and should not worry about things that are not worth worrying about (he feels that I can find a job easily which I disagree quite strongly to). But I hope that when I break the news to him later, he will reply with some level of understanding of the situation and my current state-of-mind.

Sigh.

I have even sent out requests earlier today for quotations to transport our stuff interstate as we were both looking forward to relocating to Melbourne very much but now things are again in limbo. If only I can attach their floating ends to my heart right now...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Interview

My interview flight was at 6.30am (urgh!) and I had to get up at 4.20am (triple urgh!). As I slept a lot the previous day I couldn't really sleep till 2.30am or so (insomnia sucks). So with less than 2 hours of shut-eye I started my day. Ision was trying to reduce my stress levels and told me whether I get this job or not is not really important to him as he knows that I will get another job easily. Well I didn't intepret him correctly and was a little upset as I found it hard to understand why something so important to me is not important to him. We cleared that up after a series of SMSes as I was rushing to the airport. There goes my starting-the-day-on-the-right-foot down the drain.

The end of that drama led to the start of another one. You see, domestic flights require passengers to check in at least 30 minutes in advance and I was there 45 minutes before so I thought I was in the green. Mind you, I took the wrong train earlier but luckily it still connects to the airport line via another train (another mini drama by itself). Then at the airport counter, I was rudely surprised that they have decided to reduce the size of the airplane and squeeze the not-so-early-birds to the next flight. Qantas is doing this more and more often because of the rising fuel costs and increasing workers' unrest (ie. impending strikes) but I never thought it would happen to me. It then went without saying that my requested aisle seat would escape their minds completely and as a result I was stuck with a 15-minute-later stuck-between-two-people seat that was way way back from the exit. Mental note to myself: always check in extra early for domestic flights so you can choose a seat that is as near the exit as possible. And yes, never choose Qantas for domestic flights again, not that I have a choice in this case (the company paid for the flight). Also, I took the earliest possible train to the airport so I tried my best. Another tip is to be one of the first to board so that you wouldn't be stuck behind a line of people trying to find whatever space in the overhead compartments there is to cram their luggages into.

So I got on the plane and thought I would only be 15 minutes late but it turned out to be double that. I then got into a cab and it sped off into a cold, gloomy and about-to-rain Melbourne morning. The last time I was there was in summer in the city and this time round I was back at the same place but had a totally different impression of it.

Next drama. Apparently there was a car accident in the city but the driver did not expect traffic to back up that much -- we were actually stuck in traffic 16km away from the accident!!! And I thought Singapore's post-accident CTE was bad. So I was already running late and now this happened. Luckily the cab fare is reimbursable otherwise the stationary vehicle's jumping meter would have added haste to the stress bomb timer that was ticking in the head.

We finally made it to our exit on the freeway after 20 minutes or so and reached the suburb called Altona pretty quickly. I managed to take a shot on the cab which said it all. Gloomy Altona to the right here I come.


The refinery soon popped into my vision and it flooded my brain with familiarity. I guess a boring job is infinitely better than no job at all. And talking about being off to a great start to my new job -- being 45 minutes late for its interview! I have never been this late before for any interview! But I guess this is Australia (Melbourne to be specific) and not Singapore where everyone seems to be time-poor and constantly rushing only to pursue some pre-packaged dream that everyone else is blindly chasing after as well (and the worst of all not realising that dream). The interviewers were cool about the lateness especially when the flight-change and traffic jam were totally beyond my control!

And so the first round of the interview started...

Sitting right in front of me were 2 women (that certainly went against all engineering-stereotypes huh) and they started asking me the more formal introductory and big-picture questions which were pretty easy to answer. I must say being interviewed by Aussies is a totally different experience compared to being interviewed by Singaporeans. Maybe it was all in my mind. Or maybe I am an Aussie trapped in a Singaporean body all along and my spirit finally found its true home.

I shall not get into the details of the questions because I have forgotten about them myself but suffice to say the first round went well except for the fact that when they asked me whether I had any questions for them, I said no. I explained that I was already familiar about the job scope and the company as I have been doing something very similar (in the same company) for the past two and a half years. However on hindsight I should have asked some questions so that they know that I am super-interested. See? This is why I hate interviews -- too much thinking and analysis involved.

The next round involved my future colleagues ie. one really experienced guy and another not-so-senior girl. They were very friendly and set the tone of the round as informal right from the start. I always like these chatty interviews -- people often tell me that if interviews were chatty it means that they like you. They started asking the more technical questions ie. questions that I have prepared for (yes yes, I am kiasu). So I presented them with the answers I have tucked in my mind in advance. The trick is to just roughly know what to say and then build on the skeleton as you go along. I am pretty happy with this round and when asked if I had any questions, I did not repeat my last mistake and followed up with a few. The senior guy's last question was about my musical interests (as stated in my resume) since he was a singer and musician himself. I told him that was my fall-back plan (plus the air quotes) and got a quick laugh out of them.

Time was running out since I arrived late and that took time out of the last round, which was a refinery tour led by another future colleague. Frankly towers, reactors and furnaces look similar all around the world so there actually wasn't much point in having this tour. But I was reminded by the recruitment agency before the interview not to be too relaxed during the tour as I was still being assessed then. By that time I was pretty saturated (not to mention cold) and really wanted to retreat back into my warm comfort zone. Fortunately it was a very rushed tour and that helped to mask my slowly-getting-indifferent attitude. Before I knew it I was back in the administrative building and in the cab that was waiting for me outside the refinery doors. A quick goodbye and I was off only to realise that I forgot to ask them for recommendations on good residential locations in Melbourne. Maybe it is better not to jump the gun and ask those questions only after they offer me the job.


Then I received a call on the cab and I figured it must be the same person who tried to call me twice during the first interview round. It turned out to be another recruitment agency wanting to know more about my background and arrange for an interview. I rescheduled the call till a few hours later when I will be back at home. By this time, the adrenaline has stopped flowing and my body and mind began to weaken and crash. I just wished a portal would open right in front of me like in the computer game I have been playing that would bring me home in an instant. But no, I had to suffer another crowded plane ride.

I managed to squeeze in some grocery-shopping and got home just in time for the call from the recruitment agency. We chatted for a while and set an interview date (which is tomorrow). Interestingly, ExxonMobil (as well as Shell) is one of their clients and they would pitch them my resume! In life I have found out very often that when things don't happen, they don't happen but when they do, they happen all at once. But I guess this is what I want and am hoping for so no complaints from me. All I have to do now with regards to the Melbourne interview is to wait by the phone for the news (which they said will come within this week or so, or so they say) ie. wait to get a mini heart-attack every time my phone rings. At least the worst is over now.

I then took a shower, made myself a quick sandwich dinner and curled up in bed watching movies. And right there, I was back in my comfort zone.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Yet another blogger is born!

Well I've always felt that I am a person who has a lot of things to say about this world, its inhabitants and everything else and so it makes perfect sense that I blog as well. Also, I am a narcissist and enjoys attention so all the more I should make a second home out of a blog.

I guess laziness is the reason why this blogger's birth took so long.

But now that THE NEXT PHASE of my life has begun, I feel that it is time to start blogging so that my friends and family can get updated with the latest developments in my life (not that it is all that exciting).

So there you go, I will no longer be a blog-virgin after clicking the "Publish Post" button. And I figure it's about time!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Updates, updates, updates

The whole purpose of setting up this blog is to provide personal updates and so update I will.

It has been 12 days since I've landed in Sydney and I'm not sure if I've accomplished anything substantial yet. I have opened up an Australian bank account, transferred all my Singapore dollars into that account and got my ATM card working. That certainly put a large part of my mind at ease. Also, my 3 boxes arrived safely with only one opened by customs for inspection. I think everything is intact and that is good too. The only thing now is to find a place to neatly stash all my belongings in Ision's studio apartment (he complains night and day about the huge mess I make). We have to tidy the apartment up every Wednesday when his Reiki clients come visit and I think we are getting very good at speed-tidying.

Since I am not sure whether or not I will end up in Melbourne for the long term, I did not join a gym but instead bought a 10-visit pass at a gym near our place. I expected the 10-visit pass to be quite a bit cheaper than 10 individual visits (of $20 each) but I end up only saving $21 with the pass. Oh well, this is but a temporary arrangement and I can bear with it for the time being. The cost of living here is certainly higher than that of Singapore and I kind of just discovered that I might be earning less than my last-drawn salary. Oh well, what can I do if that's the case right?

The weather here is ultra nice but I guess my residual problem of nasal congestion (from all the dusty spring-cleaning work before I left for Sydney which triggered my allergic nose to go crazy) kind of lingered. It should have recovered by now because the air here is lighter and cleaner than Singapore's but it still hasn't. It is getting better though, slowly but surely. One great thing about the weather is that I can finally use my winter clothing, which I brought along with a lot of clothes from Singapore. I mean, a lot!!! I know I will not need to buy clothes for a long time but I guess I will (I like nice new clothes!) when I start to have an income.

And that brings us to the job front. Although it seems on the surface that I have not achieved much in this area because I am still jobless, in fact I have attended a first interview with the biggest recruitment agency in Australia. Too bad a lot of the jobs in my Chemical Engineering industry lie in the suburbs (about 1 to 2 hours away from Sydney's CBD on the train) and Ision doesn't really want to move to those places for fear of not being able to secure his own employment. However I still expressed my interest in those jobs during the interview because I want to have as many options as possible (a la kiasu Singaporeans).

The good thing though is that I have a big basket I can place most of my eggs in at the moment and that basket is ExxonMobil's Process Engineer position in the Altona refinery in Melbourne. My second interview has been scheduled on the 7th of July and the air ticket has already been paid for by the company. I just discovered that there is another candidate vying for the same position and this made me rather nervous about my chances (which dropped from 75% to less than 50%). I know that I have consciously not put in a lot of energy/emphasis into my career in the past because a balanced existence is my life's goal. I am just afraid that will show up in the interview in the form of a lack of solid work experience when asked behavioural- and scenario-based or technical questions. I only hope that the other guy doesn't have my ExxonMobil experience, which is the only trump card I have under my sleeve. There are certainly more Chemical Engineering type jobs in Melbourne (compared to Sydney) and they are also much closer to the city or even within the city. Come to think of it, with or without this ExxonMobil job, I think it is still good to relocate to Melbourne to find a job. My only concern is that if that happens, Ision and I will both be jobless and that is kind of unacceptable. We have to discuss further about that.

Until that interview is over, I will not feel settled. And if I do get that job, I will try to delay my start date as much as possible so that I can move to Melbourne together with Ision (he needs to give 3 weeks' notice to his boss as well as his landlord). In the meantime, I can only sit on the edge of my chair, try my best to prepare for the interview and hope that the day will come as soon as possible. I hate interviews (all that faking, which I am not very good at) and it has been such a LONG while since my last interview. My rustiness in that is exacerbating my anxiety.

Other than the impending interview, there is nothing much happening for me except passing the time with jogging around the apartment (the waterfront view is excellent), hitting the gym, playing old computer games that I brought from Singapore and enjoying the pile of media I have downloaded over the past few years neatly stowed away in my two external hard drives.

I was supposed to have a weekly webcam chat with my mum on Monday evenings but I forgot about that last week and so I rescheduled the Monday session to today but no one is online at the moment and my niece is not replying to my messages. I need her to go online so that I can get the session going. If only my mum knows how to start a MSN video conversation. That being said, how many aunties in their 60s can do that in Singapore?

At the start of this new phase in my life, I told myself that I am no longer a tourist in a foreign country and so there should be less spending, eating and fun in general. On the plus side, I can maintain my weight (in fact I think I am getting lighter, which is always not a bad thing). Ision is a great cook (of course, anyone can be a great cook compared to me) and I really enjoy his culinary creations. In fact, I am eating steamed and pan-fried dumplings straight from the steamer/pan as I type this as he cooks away in the kitchen (it is his day off). I would rather stay at home most of the time for now to curb my spending (no income = minimal spending) but when we settle down eventually, we will definitely go out more often (Ision prefers to stay at home and maybe his reason for that actually stems from the same source as my current one for doing so). Oh by the way, I have added Ision's earning/expenditure into my (TRADEMARK) budget spreadsheet and that Excel file is really getting more complicated and exciting.

So these are my updates in a nutshell of a blog entry. I am sure my future blog entries will branch away from mere reports of my boring life onto greater (and hopefully more interesting) things. I am glad that I started this blog and as a result can reach out to the maximum number of people with minimum effort.

Now I just need to spread the word that I am a resident of a new continent and a netizen of this new realm we call blogosphere.