Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas in my own skin

Some of my blog-readers have complained that my entries are too long so this one will consist of only pictures, each equivalent to one thousand words to be exact.

You might have read that there is an increasing number of people putting up their nude/semi-nude pictures online for all to see. Well I am not a pioneer in this but I certainly have done this long before it became “fashionable”. There are two primarily-gay (official) nude beaches in Sydney namely Obelisk Beach and Lady Jane Beach. Ision was working on Christmas Day so I gathered a few of my friends who had no plans on that day as well to accompany me on my virgin-trip to the Lady Jane Beach.

And you know me right? Nude beach = perfect photo op. So with some of your imagination to complete the pictures, here you go.

So what do you think? I still got it right? Seeing that there is a direct bus from my place to that beach, I know I can be one with nature much more often from now on. The next step is simply to look for more naturist pals!

Happy New Year one and all!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The next phase ( *new and improved* )

You must be wondering why have I been absent from the blogosphere for so long. Well wonder no more because this post will illustrate why in detailed clarity, so read on…

We have officially moved into our new one-bedroom apartment on 22nd November 2008! THE NEXT PHASE has developed further towards my planned direction and everything seems so much more exciting and rosy now. But there is quite a bit to do as well.

I must admit I am a sensibly-materialistic person but when it comes to providing my partner and me with a high quality of life, I do not think that I should scrimp and save if I can afford it. We all save money so as to spend it at some point in time right? If I were straight and aspiring to be an HDB-dwelling breeder back in good old Singapore just like everyone else, I would be using a huge chunk of my savings for a flat (and a wedding as well as all the other rat-race breeder activities). As we are still renting, the amount we have spent is but a fraction of what the said breeder would have spent, not to mention the cost of breeding that we do not need to grow white hair and get out of shape over. So do you want to join my camp now and enjoy a higher level of disposable income?

One of my must-buy items is a full high-definition LCD TV of at least 42”. This is my self-set basic standard for home entertainment. I am still resistant to Blu-Ray at the moment and intend to give it some time to get more popular (in the footsteps of the original DVD). Without Blu-Ray, the only other way to experience full high-definitional visual orgasm is to play games on an Xbox 360 Pro game console. I actually have no preference between Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 but Ision is dead sure about the former so Xbox it will be. Well the TV has been bought (and I finally got to cross out a dream that started ever since the first obscenely-expensive plasma TV was put on sale) as well as a reasonable Yamaha sound system (2 tower front speakers, 2 tower surround speakers, a centre speaker, a sub-woofer and an 5.1 channel AV receiver). However gaming is not an absolute necessity and so prioritisation dictated the game console be bought only after the post-LCD-TV-purchase pay day. Of course I kept my promise to myself and now Ision and I are the proud owners of an Xbox 360 Pro console with 2 wireless controllers and a console-charging dock (plus the four free games that came with the package). And just like that, my LCD TV has buddied up and is no longer lonely (he was getting quite sick of the obsolete DVD recorder I brought from Singapore). I must admit the home entertainment system we now have is too sophisticated (size- and sound-wise) for now but I am also preparing for our eventual move to a bigger place.

Next on the essential items list is the fridge (because Ision and I are great fans of food and living without the electronic cooling box for even a few days would be torture). I originally wanted a super high-end one (metallic-coating, double-door with external ice- and water-dispensers) but got impeded by the lack of space in the kitchen. I thought to myself -- since I cannot buy the best, I will settle for a cheap but decent one. The newer fridge models are all bottom-mounted (ie. with the freezer at the bottom) because new refrigeration technologies no longer necessitate cold air to be driven only from top down anymore. I originally thought that the model we chose could be opened either from the left or right (I have always wanted a fridge like that) but I later realised (when it was delivered) that the configuration has been disappointingly pre-fixed. Nevertheless it is a good-sized model and since we will never have an expanding family, this fridge not only saves space but also money and energy.

Then comes the all-important couch, the largest piece of furniture in the living room (and so it must not go wrong!). Whenever I flip through furniture catalogues, I always find the sight of lounging on the love seat of a sofa so warm, cozy and inviting. And when I turn on the TV, I see couples in each other’s arms lying on the love seat (I guess this explains why it is called a “love seat”) and again -- warm, cozy and inviting. So it is a case of stop-drooling-and-get-yourself-one-too. However we need to buy one that can fits nicely into the not-so-big living room. It should preferably also be a sofa bed so that we can host visitors comfortably. Just when I thought I was on top of my grand plan, my worst fear came true -- our living room is not big enough for a love seat sofa bed (the bedroom is bigger than the living room and the bathroom is so much bigger than what I expected)! The painful decision was then to make do without a love seat (with just the sofa bed option). Actually the solution to this problem is to shop at real furniture outlets and not IKEA but since I am not about to burn a hole in my pocket (a.k.a. touch my fixed-term deposit), I guess this will do for now (until our next move to a bigger place). To be fair, there can be very good stuff at IKEA you know. I thought this would spell the end of the couch drama but a second trip to IKEA led us to a single seater plus a love seat option. Then it was crunch time (2-seater sofa bed without the love seat or a 1-seater non-sofa bed with a love seat) -- we decided to give up on the sofa bed option because we got this new place for ourselves, so that it will be a nice place for us to stay, not because of our need to host visitors even though we would really like to be able to do that. So all my family and friends, it seems that you would have to find your own accommodation when you come visit but I can still bring you around for sure (unless you are coming alone and do not mind crashing on the couch)! Unfortunately, a white fabric was chosen for the couch (a BIG regret) and as a result we had to buy throws to protect the fabric from dirt. And there ends the couch drama. Phew!

One might argue that a bed frame should also be high on the priority list but since we have an existing mattress, that had to wait initially (while we sleep on the mattress on the floor). I do not see a need to buy an expensive bed frame because most of the time in shops, the expensive ones are gi-normous which again is not one-room-apartment-friendly. That being said, I still have my requirements for a bed -- it has to have a proper head board and also be high enough. Ision dislikes head boards as he feels that it stains the wall when the former knocks into the latter (hmm… why so much knocking I wonder…) but I managed to “convince” him to have a bed with one. So in the end, we settled for a simple IKEA model (we need a king-sized one because Ision hates it when I toss and turn into his space at night and jut my elbow into him but again IKEA, being not the ideal furniture outlet to shop at does not have the lowly-demanded king-sized frames -- we could only have a queen-sized one in the end -- oh well, we just have to cuddle each other tighter!). We also threw in two bed-side tables with two drawers each to complete the bedroom ensemble. It was fortunate that there already were built-in wardrobes when we moved in and they offer lots of storage space.

By the way, my 42” LCD TV came with a free 26” LCD TV and my sound system came with a free DVD micro hi-fi -- all this free stuff could so add spice to our bedroom! The existing book shelf we have will now be in the kitchen between the living room and toilet. The altar table will now be our bedroom TV/sound system cabinet while we have a simple IKEA TV cabinet in the living room for my pride and joy. Although our new apartment has a lot of in-built storage spaces they are unexpectedly running out so we must be smart in our storage methods. Over several weeks, I gradually picked up more pieces and plonked them ornamentally around the house. I want our new place to be as cozy as possible as it is the place we will spend most of our time in. Also with a nice apartment, we can invite more people over for I have always preferred home parties to those outside where drunk, unruly and possibly homophobically-violent heteros abound.

Bit by bit, our furniture family grew bigger and bigger. In the toilet we added a 2-in-1 washing machine cum dryer (that is not cheap!), a magazine rack, a full-length mirror and an electronic scale with body fat, water and muscle mass analysis. We also got a dish-draining rack and a step-on-the-peddle-and-it-will-open waste basket (what is the proper name for it I wonder) for the kitchen. As for the living room, it is starting to look very good with a mini-running-water-fountain thingamajig, a nest of three coffee tables (very space-saving -- one of the three was later used by Ision's altar), and two laptop supports that put the “lap” back in “laptop” (as the user sits comfortably on the couch). Ision’s Guan Yin shrine is now in the living room and his altar has found a new abode in the bedroom. Of course a nice home cannot do without tea lights and there are many all over the place to add that cherry on the icing of the cake. Building a home together is a long(ish)-term process and over the next few weeks, we will beef up the apartment further with a spice rack for the kitchen, a living room rug and a bold piece of art for the living room wall. We might also get a painting for the bedroom, a living room floor lamp and small potted plants (if there is space for them). The bedroom could possibly house a tower fan too so that we can sleep more comfortably as summer sets in. Only after these additions will I deem our new place more or less complete. It is just too bad we do not have space for a proper dining table (right now the coffee tables will have to do). We have also decided to pass on the $5000+ latex mattress that Ision has long been eyeing on. But that gives us more things to look forward to when we undergo our next dwelling-upgrade, possibly something bought instead of rented. And yes, I will definitely post pictures (or maybe a video clip) of our truly-completed home when the time comes (a house-warming party will probably be thrown in as well). You can always come and visit if you cannot wait till then to see the apartment!

I kind of expected setting up our new home would be exciting but I never expected that anxiety, borderline panic and stress would jumble into such a frenzy right in my face as well. But still a sense of warmth presided over all other feelings because it is OUR home now. Most importantly, it is one dream off my checklist -- does this mean I need a replacement dream now?