I sit, heavily breathing, on the wet asphalt. I'm in some alley that I've passed a dozen times and have always ignored, yet now it's become my only getaway place. It's dark, only the dimmed lights from a nearby street help my sight to make out if it's a rat or an old bottle of whiskey. I'm just around the corner, where my friends and colleagues can't see me from where they are sitting in the pub. Tears are running and I blink as I search for the reasons why. I don't know the reason why. I want to wipe the tears away but they keep streaming out. That's when I realize I've been holding them in for a very long time. I had just been talking to this guy who I guess posed the wrong or right questions and then I was hurrying away, a blind nerve struck. And now I'm here. 

I only notice that I'm sobbing when I hear the echo coming back at me like a cloud overhead. My body is trembling but I barely feel it in the cold. Suddenly I hear steps behind me and normally I would panic in paranoia because I don't want to get murdered in an alley but this time I just sit there, thinking that if this person turns out to be a friend who was looking for me, I wouldn't know what to tell them. The person walks past me and two other people follow them. It's a guy I don't know. And his friends are carrying bottles and already walking as if they're tipsy. I don't know them, either. I think they're passing this alley as a shortcut to their next destination. Only that the guy in the lead turns around and notices me. 

He sees I'm crying and I can't really make out what he looks like as he cautiously walks back to me. I draw backward reflectively as he kneels down in front of me. Only that I didn't have to because he already kept a good distance. He ushers his curious friends away and they disappear far behind me. He looks at me closely and smiles. It's not a creepy smile but I just sit there not knowing where to look or what to do. My legs are already heavy so I wish he would go away and not watch me whilst I have a breakdown that I can't identify. 

"Um," he mutters helplessly, then gazes at his bottle of rum. "Want some?"
"No thanks," I say, moving a little further away from him. 
"Sorry, wrong approach. I'm not good at this. Are you okay?" he asks. He doesn't seem tipsy. It doesn't matter.
"Are you sure?" he asks again, a brow raised now. 
"Yeah. Just having a mini-breakdown, that's all."
"You don't look like it's just a mini-breakdown."
I emit a short laugh. "Thanks."
"No, that's not what I meant, you're really pretty. No, wait, this is not the right time to compliment you. I guess I'm just asking if there's anything I can get you or do for you. You sitting in a dark alley like this, it could be dangerous."
"I know. I don't even know why I'm here."
"Are you with friends? Are they around?"
"Why aren't you with them?"
"I just needed to get away. Didn't want to ruin their night."
"If you end up in a dark alley crying your guts out and talking to a tipsy stranger, the night was already ruined in the first place." 

The thing is he didn't do or say anything else after that. He didn't offer to come with him, or to take me someplace. He didn't offer anything. He didn't suggest anything. He just let me be, sat there and listened and nodded. He didn't move a single bit from where he was sitting. And then his friends come rushing to him again, loudly and annoyingly asking what had happened to me. The stranger with the rum got up quickly again, looking at me apologetically, then led his friends away from me by leaving with them. He gazes back at me and I give a little smile. I gather my thoughts that aren't of any distinguishable substance any longer and get back up on my feet. I walk back.  

The Stranger In The Alley

I sit, heavily breathing, on the wet asphalt. I'm in some alley that I've passed a dozen times and have always ignored, yet...
17 Nov 2017
I think I've written this post before my blog vanished but as I am currently working as a part-time waitress again, I thought this post would be highly relevant again. And it is. To me. Because there are still some customers that seriously piss me off and I have nowhere else to vent about it because well, the customer is always king and I perfectly hold in my anger in front of them. 

I am pretty sure I've done these things myself before I dived into the branch and actually learned what it's like to be a waitress and working in customer service. It's a hard piece of work and is definitely underestimated by people who go out to eat but have never experienced it from the other side. I'm not saying you're automatically an ignorant blob if you go out to eat and don't work in customer service. I'm just saying that there are some people out there who I wish would know these things. 

Note: Please excuse any sarcastic undertones. It's just because I've come across these situations more times than I would like and thinking about them makes my blood boil a little. 

We don't always get paid for hours that we work past closing time. 

We don't have closing times for no reason. And even though we would be happy to keep you around so you can wrap up your evening, please don't make us usher you out of our restaurant. The more you insist on sitting inside past our closing time, the longer we have to wait until we can tidy everything up, scrub the bar and kitchen, go over the calculation of the evening. The longer we will have to stay until we can actually close the door and go home. 

Speaking of staying...

The longer you stay at a table, the more business you take away from your server. If you see a queue of new customers standing and waiting for a free table, re-consider the time you're still spending at your table when you're already done with eating and drinking. Out of courtesy, you might also reflect it in the tip. Time is money. Especially for a restaurant.

We are not the cooks. And the cooks aren't machines.

You see, our team works diligently to cook you a great meal and to give you good customer service. If your food takes a little longer, then don't cuss us out because we are waiters, not the cooks, we don't actually cook your food. Try to stay a little civilised, no matter how bad of a date you are just having. I know your comment might be directed to our kitchen, but our cooks aren't machines that poop out your food like we're working in a fast food chain. You see that the restaurant is full, so please don't expect your food to come out immediately. There are around 30 other people who just ordered their food and the cooks can only cook so fast. We're not a factory. We're a restaurant.

Your drunken state is not an excuse.

We're pretty girls serving our customers with bright smiles and trembling arms. It doesn't matter if you're drunk or not, don't flirt with us or touch us or order us around thinking that we will enjoy it and join in. Don't yell our names to order something when we're in the middle of taking an order of another table. Don't snap your fingers, touch or whistle when you want something. We're not in a circus nor at school. 

Please only wave us over when you're actually ready to order. 

Please. Please don't wave us over when we're already busy when you'll be taking another 10 minutes to figure out what you want to eat. We're constantly multi-tasking and every second matters to us. Discuss it first, make a decision, and if you have a question, then be free to wave or call us over.

Only a percentage of the tip goes to your server. 

Keep in mind that the tip you give does not 100% go to your server. 

We can't read your mind.

Please just tell us whatever you need, about your allergies, what you don't like, when you have questions on a meal, if you think the meal we brought out was wrong, when you want to get the bill, etc. We have our eyes all over the place so we can't possibly remember to check your facial expression to see what you would like us to help you with. 

Even though this post was rather preachy, I do want to point out that there are many, many amazing customers who always consider the hard work of waiters, barkeepers and cooks in a restaurant and are quite supportive and kind, even if something goes wrong. Which make my day every time I get the pleasure of serving them. I think this was just a rant-y post. And maybe even a reminder for some people out there, to consider these points when they go out to eat some time. 

Any waiters/waitresses out there who can relate? 

What Your Waiter Wants You To Know

I think I've written this post before my blog vanished but as I am currently working as a part-time waitress again, I thought this ...
15 Nov 2017

As an aspiring writer, I've always been on the look-out for inspiration. And during writer's block, I tend to read books that make me feel excited about writing again. These are some of them that have been suggested to me and that I am now 100% recommending to anyone who's an aspiring writer or just really interested in the craft. 

Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft"

What better way to learn than from a serial bestseller author themselves? This book is Stephen King's memoir that frames his life and shines light on the process that has earned him his success and was particularly interesting to read for me.
This book is a true inspiration to me, knowing how Stephen King gets up every day to write and just sits to read. The way writing makes him happy, I can totally resonate with that and he gives plenty reasons why it shall make me happy, too. Besides that, it's also a pretty interesting biography to read. His writing cracks me up and fascinates me at the same time.

Dani Shapiro's "Still Writing"

is partly a writing memoir and partly a craft book in which Shapiro encourages you to keep writing. Sometimes we just need a little push and inspiration to keep going. This book showcases what it means to be a writer which I thought was what I would need to read since I am yet to become one, most probably just part-time.

Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life"

This is a guidebook which treats every writer's self-doubt with humour and equally, tenderness. This book is encouraging and gives sound advice, all leading to you becoming your best creative self.
My favourite line is "I don't think you have the time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won't be good at it."

William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White's "The Elements of Style"

A helpful gem for your story, a quick read that will help you write better crafts. Okay that sounded a bit too put-together, but it's true. I keep flipping through this one and have found myself some kind of a mentor. This book was even recommended by Stephen King himself in his book on writing.

Which books do you read to get inspiration? 

The Bookshelf Of A Writer (Books Every Writer Should Own)

As an aspiring writer, I've always been on the look-out for inspiration. And during writer's block, I tend to read books ...
13 Nov 2017

We arrived at the Ariston Hotel & Patio before noon. It was a hotel I had picked out for the three of us because it was only two bus stops away from the international bus station and because the exterior, as well as the interior looked comfortable. Upon arriving, I checked with the friendly receptionist whether the booking was inserted in the system because it's always better safe than sorry.

When we arrived we were greeted by the friendly elderly receptionist who was so kind to let us into the room on the opposite side of the hotel, the patio, even though the check-in time was only supposed to be three hours later. A triple room with a twin bed and a single bed awaited us as we searched our door.

Oddly but naturally, I have a thing for the view we had on the other houses around us. It made me feel homey and the colors were charming to look at as we dropped our things off, refreshed ourselves, got ready and ate a snack or two.

We later went to Old Town Square, but we went to look for a place to eat lunch at first. We decided to drift off the main roads a little and eventually found the cute Atrium restaurant and café. We stayed there for lunch (I ate Spaghetti e Funghi) and talked until we were ready to explore the town. 

It was extremely cold. My legs and upper body were fine but my feet and hands and cheeks were suffering from how cold it had gotten in Europe. The sun was out, which we were grateful for, though the breeze sent shivers down my spine. That didn't stop us from venturing around the city, though. We were basically the typical Asian group taking pictures of everything. But it's important to me to capture the moment. It's important to us to cherish where we are able to go.

It was my first time ever to go to Prague. It had always been on my mind but I never actually really went through with it. As I walked down the streets and alleys and as my eyes kept catching little details I smiled fondly upon, I felt like this must be a wonderful city to be living in. Not even just in the centre. The romance practically lay in the air and whooshed over the city like a magical veil. The sunlight tainted every moment with blissful optimism and serendipity. The canal calmly spread itself underneath the bridge.

I didn't feel my feet when I walked. Even if the hills got steady and the Trdlniks got too much for my little stomach. I didn't feel them not because of the cold, though that played a role too, but rather because fascination captured every single part of my body. It might sound a little exaggerated but that is exactly how I felt when I let myself fully sink into this new atmosphere, this new place. There's so much art and creative detail.

To my utter joy, we discovered this amazing vintage shop that mainly sold old postcards, posters, art prints, books and stickers and I had to think long and hard to decide on buying or not buying an Audrey Hepburn poster. I did not. Instead, I'd spent my money on a John Lennon artwork from the streets by local artists.

I was stunned by how many to-be-marrieds posed in this magical town for wedding photos when it was incredibly cold. I couldn't make out who these two sweethearts were but I was in love with how in love with each other they were. The bride got her jacket off and shivered as her husband gently held her. They giggled and looked at each other like there was no one else in the whole place. We cheered for the beautiful couple.

We arrived at the top of the hill and stood on the roof of a Starbucks, and we happened to stay until the streetlights went on. The hours passed by quickly as we took in the view of a seemingly unblemished foreign town. The clock ticked no more.

Have you been to Prague before? What did you like the most about it? 

Thoughts + Snaps from Prague

We arrived at the Ariston Hotel & Patio before noon. It was a hotel I had picked out for the three of us because it was only two bus...
Prag, Czech Republic

10 Nov 2017

I got three old books that the restaurant I work at use for decoration and I decided to take them home (after asking of course) to read because even though my boss chose them randomly, some of them really caught my eye. One of them is a city guide of Florence with a focus on the architecture and art, my kind of interest. Another one is a 'study of the corruption of love' that tells a portrait of life in different angles. And the last one I picked is a romantic novel.

I open each book sighing because I love the smell of really old books so much. And with this I have learned a lesson: go to stores that sell old books more often because they tend to surprise and inspire you tremendously. 

Like one of the books I got, Deep Waters (Spoonhandle) by Ruth Moore had an old photograph inside, in the middle of the book. It shows a brightly smiling woman in what looks like an uniform that bakers would wear and she is standing outside of a house which is probably where she lived, and it is all black and white, lightly sepia toned. When I flipped it I realised that the picture was taken in 1949 and the woman's name was (first name I could not decipher) Julia Ulfmann.

Now I was immediately stunned and curious. Who was this woman? Was she the one who took the photo? Was the owner that woman's sister? Her mother? Her daughter? Was she the one who owned the book before I got it? Was the former owner someone completely different and had just used the picture of a lover? Was the woman in the picture still alive?  

I immediately approached the book with completely different eyes. I read it more mindfully, wondering what the former owner would have thought about each event in the book, wondering whether she had read this book over and over for the same paragraph. 

Have you put your hands on old books before just to notice a stranger's scribbles, notes or photographs from decades ago? 

The Old Books

I got three old books that the restaurant I work at use for decoration and I decided to take them home (after asking of course) to read ...
9 Nov 2017