There’s this urging voice in me. “Pen them down,” she whispers. “They may slip out of your hands.”
No. I don’t want my friends to slip out of my hands. But I do want to get these off my chest, they’ve had me suffocated for days. It’s time, if you may.
For almost one week, I worked overtime, which amounted to about 10 hours of work a day. I left the office by nine at night, and only reached home a little past 10. I’d then be busy picking up what was left undone until I could call it quit and finally tuck myself in bed. Five hours of sleep and there I was rising up to another day of challenges ahead. It’d been a ritual I
practiced practice by all means.
As time elapsed, fatigue kicked in, alongside the handful of other problems I’ve subjected myself to, and you got this worn-out soul. I tried taking everything to myself but to no avail; I was on the verge of breaking down, turned emotionally agitated, and couldn’t stay focused. At times, I doubted if I was acting sensibly, for which is already a taxing requirement this artist has to put up with every day. Feigning a smile has got to be one of the toughest jobs in the world! (I’ve been in the creative industry, and I depend upon flow of words and ideas to earn a living, and I admit I’m quite a neurotic.)
All of which trickled down to damages. Irreparable damages.
My world speaks of cultural relativism. It comes down to from which angle you are to interpret the situation: I might or must have uttered and done something ridiculous and foolish, and things can’t now be undone. What were acquaintances are now “passersby.” I’ve been agonizing; I’m flooded with remorse; I don’t know if I should hurl all the blame at myself; I don’t know if I should patch things up.
Or maybe the scars shall remain. Just let go.
I for one would never describe myself as wise, which is too strong of a word to use on a soon-to-be-24-year-old, for now, or maybe forever. Perhaps not immature, either, for which I’ve got years down the road to journey through, to grow, and to learn from. (Of course, I have to live long enough to experience that.) I’m learning to give and to take, to live and to let go. Maybe some people hold too high of an expectation of me; they haven’t realized I’m a lamb that has just been freed to explore the wild on her own.
It’s unfair to say my story hasn’t been anything but gloomy. I’m not easy to handle (oh, I’m temperamental!), and yet there are friends — true friends who would stick with me through the ups and downs. They lent an ear when I needed a shoulder to cry on; they were unafraid of sharing their views; they let me see things I could not have seen; they lifted me up when my world collapsed.
You may not know them, but I’m here to thank my friends anyway, especially Maria, Kent, Ee Vian, Traschia, Lee Ping, and Pei Lin (ah, another Pei Lin but in Singapore!).
Speaking of whom, Maria is actually a friend I got to know of recently through my new job. We’re the copywriters for the same organization, but she’s in Singapore while I in Kuala Lumpur. Though we’ve never met each other, I very much enjoy her company. She’s become a close buddy of mine at work: imagine the skepticism and occasional questioning from other colleagues — works of art sometimes can’t be explained! (Maria, I’m so going to bring you some treat should we ever get to meet up.)
In the meantime, I’ve been surprised and motivated by the encouraging words from my silent readers — wait a sec, they’re no longer silent!
“Just wanted too say. I love your blog. Please keep it going.”
“Hi! i just chanced upon your blog and i have to say i really like it. its well written, information, easy and comfortable to read as it has a personal touch. i especially enjoyed the post about how you came to be interested in food and cooking, really touching and inspiring stuff! jiayou!”
At this moment, I can recall only these two, since they’re the most recent ones of the handful of others I’ve received thus far. Pardon me, I apparently am aging fast and getting forgetful (and ornery). Nonetheless, to Anonymous, jc, CK (Carol), and the many others — whoever and wherever you are, thank you! Thank you for giving me the much-needed strength to persist in adverse times like this. (By the way, just so you wonder, “jiayou 加油” means to keep it up in Mandarin.)
As a token of appreciation and friendship, I’d like to dedicate these cookies to my friends and readers.
Soft, plump and moist. The chockablock cookies are chockablock with nuts, fruits, chocolate, oats, and love — loads of it. At first it may seem disproportionate (I shrieked when I saw the chunky, fragile cookie dough myself!), but trust me, the cookie-to-add-ins ratio in this recipe is deliciously bodacious. I hope you’ll like them.
Time heals all wounds. So did the chockablock cookies, they put a smile on my face. I can now get up, be resolute, and think clearly again. For my family and friends and myself, I’m going to stay strong and march on.
I apologize if I’ve somehow tricked you into believing you’re reading a food blog — an unadulterated one, or the fairytale of a young girl. Truth be told, this, however, has evolved into a catharsis of mine, a canvas on which I paint my not-so-beautiful stories, on which I share my love of food, language and all things visual. Albeit dear to my heart, there’s more to life than baking and cooking alone.
At the end of the day, bruises remain but life carries on; I lost and yet I gained. I’m still a queen, and I deserve better.
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
170 grams all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
55 grams unsalted butter, softened
55 grams shortening, at room temperature
115 grams granulated or caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
128 grams rolled oats
113 grams coarsely chopped nuts (such as walnuts, pecans or peanuts, or a mix of all three)
142 grams moist, plump raisins (dark or golden), or, coarsely chopped dried fruit (such as apricots, prunes or figs, or a mix of all three)
340 grams coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate, or, good-quality chocolate chips
40 grams sweetened shredded coconut (I used unsweetened one)
Sift (A) into a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together, and set aside. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
In another large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, at medium speed, cream together (B) till very smooth, for about two minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another two minutes. Mix in the molasses and beat for one more minute. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating one minute after each addition.
Reduce the speed to low and stir in the oats and flour mixture, mixing only till they disappear into the dough. Using a sturdy wooden spoon or spatula, toss in (C) and mix to incorporate. At this point, you can choose to wrap the dough real well in cling film and refrigerate for up to two days, or measure out the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet(s), freeze till firm, then put mounds of dough in Ziploc bag(s), seal well, and freeze for up to two months. These frozen ones can be baked straight out the freezer, adding a few more minutes to the baking time.
Divvy up the dough by two rounded tablespoonfuls, and place the mounds of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet(s), leaving about four centimeters between the mounds.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the cookies are golden and just about to set. Remove from the oven, and let the cookies set on the baking sheet(s) for about five minutes before transferring to cooling rack(s) to cool completely. Serve or store in airtight container(s).