Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Maybe I'll kick off my minimart stories by telling you about the many fascinating characters we've encountered. My ex-colleagues and current shop partners, the 3 of us, have always had the habit of conferring stuff nicknames. I introduce you:
- Shampoo uncle
He was one of our very first customers, and still continues to be a loyal supporter. He asked us for shampoo the very first few days we began, but our toiletries section wasn't up and running yet. He came back and bought it a few days later, saying he hasn't washed his hair in awhile as he was hoping to buy it from us.
- Eggs uncle
He used to stand at our door and asked for guinness and eggs. Always treats me to free food. Always comes around to buy all sorts of random things like rice, gas stove lighters (he bought 3 at one go once), ciders that he doesn't drink etc. He also shares about life quite often and preaches the importance of happiness. Generous and wise.
- French running couple
First few times we me them, they just ended their exercises and came in for some drinks. Also big supporters who buy all sorts of random stuff. The guy is Vincent, who specifically drinks mineral water. Asked him to get those large barrel water dispenser instead to save money, but he said if he did that, he couldn't continue to support us. *tears* I see him more often and learnt he's the stepdad to his wife's kids. He used to play in a band, and told me about this singer Frank Black and his fascination with aliens. He is also deeply interested in religion. We spoke a fair bit about this, and from him I learnt about pranic healing. It's similar to reiki I think? I'm taking it as a sign from the universe that I should continue exploring my spiritual side.
- Nathan (real name)
Primary school boy who has been one of our biggest supporters since Day 1. He used to spend large amounts on the shop, from multiple kinder eggs, to 200-dollar game cards. So when he asked for help to purchase a toy called Pop-It, i agreed. It was also then I decided to bring in more to test the market. It worked. Now we're the local area's pop-it dealers (to kids). They even write their orders and give them to us! I think we're quite loved by the kids there.
- Hao Yu
Another young boy with deep pockets. The first few times we saw him he had a very odd haircut - and our imaginations ran wild thinking he had cancer or something. Turns out it was a bad haircut which he soon grew out of. Smart and quiet. Good at math. A few times he whispered the change even before I keyed it into the cashier. He trusts us enough to ask for help to open his house gate which is sometimes stuck. My 2 friends has gone up to his home multiple times to open it for him.
The ultimate supporter. Survivor of a motorcycle accident that has hindered his mobility drastically. We began carrying up his groceries for him since he was ordering so much drinks and such. Eventually exchanged numbers, and he calls us 3 times a week or more for groceries. He has many favourites that keeps changing. It scares us a little. Right now he's into the Vitamin Water. Past likes include monster energy drink, coconut water and root beer. Staples include blueberry tea, sandwiches, biscuits, instant coffee, yogurt, cheese.
To be continued.
Posted at 12:05 pm by nic
Between 30 March and today, 12 May 2021, two people whom I've known previously have dropped me messages to ask how I was.
Their attempts to reconnect has left me wary. The first one, I completely flat out rejected and erased the messages as soon as they came. Not gonna dirty my energy on this person.
The second one though, I acceded to her requests of wanting to learn more about my new minimart. I don't quite remember how the contact with this one fizzled out - but I do remember feeling quite overwhelmed by her messages back then and her.. uh... attention. Guess she eventually figured out it wasn't reciprocal. So she ghosted me, sort of. The thing is I've always felt she could make a great friend, so we'll see if the second time's a charm!
And oh yes, I'm the owner of a minimart now. Together with 2 other friends. Will be more conscientious in blogging about my shop adventures. There's so much to share!
Posted at 11:28 am by nic
Monday, May 10, 2021
Writing is like a muscle that needs to be constantly stretched. I'm sad to announce that muscle in me is now stringy and thin to the point of snapping.
Today I spent most of my time at shop reading through nearly every entry of this blog - from the very first post that was dated (cue gasp) xxx 2009.
My reactions to my own posts written in late teens/ early 20s were quite a rollercoaster:
- I cyber cursed way too much (very jarring because I don't curse in real life, with the exception of a few 'shits' and 'hells')
- I believed in things very strongly and was highly opinionated about certain matters. I wonder now if I've gone "soft" over the years - losing that uncompromising sense of morality which I felt was all I had last time. Now I'm more inclined to see things in grey (darn you, growing up).
- Money, materialism, climbing the corporate ladder - those things were of my lowest priorities even back then. Very proud this hasn't changed.
- Why I was so upset and angry all the time?!
- Why was I so hard on myself last time?!
- I wasn't too bad of a writer. Found my own posts quite engaging in fact. I'm afraid I've gotten mega boring and unwitty over the years.
- I'm proud of what I've accomplished, pushed myself to do, how I've gone through life and its many ups & downs over the last 12 years, and how I've emerged from them.
Between my last post to now, things have changed so much I barely know where to begin. I kinda wished I catalogued them down for my own narcissistic reading pleasure but I think life got kinda draining even though there were many many wondrous and beautiful moments. Times where I found myself; times where I lost myself. Breakups, makeups, and times where I was given calls of wakeups. I was submerged and consumed and at times I felt like I was drowning. There was definitely no efforts on my part to dissect any of those experiences. That hyper introspective part of me is gone. And I miss it because young me analysed the hell out of things and came up with some pretty great interpretations about life and my many experiences.
Two things I aim to be again: observant and reflective.
Posted at 06:42 pm by nic
Sunday, April 25, 2021
For the first time ever, I ranted deep and long about my two shop partners to a friend. It doesn't feel satisfying enough, so I'm here again to just get it all out of my chest. Recently we've been facing some new competition and their presence has ignited this spark of panic in me. We took a bit of time to establish ourselves and gain a customer base, earning enough to take home a modest pay of $1,000 each starting just last month. It doesn't seem to dawn upon the other two that the new shop's arrival will put our salary in jeopardy.
Many months ago, I've been bugging them to think about the small room and how we can improve it to our advantage since we have all that free space. I specifically said we cannot sit on it because time is just going to fly by, and by the end of our two year tenancy, nothing would have accomplished. 8 months in, LOOK WHERE WE'RE AT. Still the same, with our territory being encroached on by our competitors. And still they feel it's perfectly fine to wait around and SEE WHAT THE HAPPENS.
To be fair I feel like I've been doing most of the work. At the beginning, I sourced for potential shop locations, researched and ordered shelves & POS system, found people for aircon installation and window installation, while the other two just went along with it. When we began operating, I began looking into sourcing cheaper supplies for the shop, reducing current cost prices and bringing in greater variety of products to expand our collection. The other two just continued doing the usual ordering of stuff, never quite contributing to ways of cost savings and the overall improvement of shop in terns of inventory, layout, or expansion.
This imbalance means I have to give more, and that makes me more high strung because the other two simply aren't bringing anything to the table. I'm like a string that's carrying a really heavy boulder, ready to snap. Of course my tension is high because there's all this weight on me! So far the ideas they've given is to sell more items like household stuff and frozen food - but it doesn't seem like they understand our climate very well despite being here for 8 months.
1. Low footfall
2. Small profits
3. Competition nearby
4. People don't cook
5. People rather buy from more prominent brands/ shops
With all these in mind, is it even sensible to go ahead with simply investing in more random items in hopes of capturing those few sales? Shouldn't the way forward be looking towards how we can offer services and experiences so that the profit can be larger even if the quantity is small?
I find it rather fruitless to try and compete for pennies when we can aim for more. Very honestly, I am at the point where I feel like telling them they're a fat bunch of slackers. They just don't seem to get that if we don't put in effort, it's best to just go back to work in an office. There's no easy way out in life. Whether you're working for someone, or you're working for yourself, nothing fulfilling happens when don't put in real work and be ready to take risks. I feel like I'm ready to go but these two are just too afraid to fly.
Posted at 12:49 pm by nic
Friday, March 26, 2021
Laptop-driven motivation to blog still going strong. And I really need a release.
My group with three other friends is seeing some major, major cracks. Irreparable, I'm almost afraid to say. After a major blowout A & B had a few weeks ago, A & C ended their 10-year relationship just this morning. This puts me in a very tight position because B & C are avoiding A for two different reasons, yet I have to be there for all, as B & C aren't that close. It's just blows my mind how things have turned out like this. As a friend, I see how different their personalities are and at times have wondered myself how they've managed to compromise themselves to the point of staying together for 10 years when parts of them are just so fundamentally different. Part of me felt a sense of awe, partly envious, a small pinch sceptical, but overall happy for them that they've managed to find that delicate middle ground because it's so hard to keep true to yourself while simultaneously changing parts of yourself for someone else. Sometimes I reflect on what kind of a partner am I - a very harsh and unforgiving answer would be that I am a selfish one. I do have the tendency to take on all the blame, but I also need to remind myself that having done selfish stuff (as anyone is prone to) doesn't automatically make me a bad person. Maybe the way I express or show concern/love is different from my partners, and if it doesn't meet their expectations, that doesn't inherently make me wrong or bad. Only different. That being said, I feel pity mostly for my friends' unfortunate breakup. For one, 10 years is a really long time to be together. There's just so much history and memories and shared life experiences with that one person, and not being to make more is just unimaginable. Second, they were making plans to start a family. Breaking up means more than losing someone - its losing shared life plans and goals that two people were working towards to. Third, it just seemed like they were going to go through life together you know. I feel bad mostly for the friend who was blindsided by this. Yes they had their quarrels and ups & downs, but I don't think she ever forsaw this relationship ending no matter how bad things got between them. I can see B did (or didn't do) to push A to the point of initiating this breakup, and I can also understand why A said she's ready to move on. Looking in from the outside, I only feel an immense sadness for my friends because I'm certain this is not an outcome anyone ever wanted.
Posted at 07:15 pm by nic
Sunday, March 14, 2021
The possession of a brand new laptop has renewed my (limited) interest in keeping a diary! The way the keys on the springy, untainted board go clickity clack just spurs me even more! So dear me in the future, as you read back on for shits and giggles, it is now March 2021 and I've quit my job and opened a minimart together with my two friends Andy & Yvonne (from the same company, and yes we led an uprising and left together). March 2021 marks our 7th month of operations and things are going smoothly, considering how the odds are not exactly in our favour. For such a long time I've wanted to own something of my own. Something I could call mine. And now... now I finally have it. Was I ecstatic? Absolutely. That desire to "own something", I believe, was a product of resentment, ego, and ambition. Three very unhealthy motivations to do anything really, but at that time my head and heart weren't in their right places. There were many people I wanted to prove myself to, to do something so different and radical, that they had no choice but to be in awe of me. That was ego at its finest.
The thing is, "friendship" with this certain group of people has always been rather uncertain to me. We bonded over certain theme, or rather, a trait. But till today I cannot decide whether we actually have anything else in common other than the fact that we all fall within the lgbt spectrum. As I had dinner with one of them on Friday, some issues with a common friend came up and as I listened, I realised I never felt like I belonged (although the issue that was brought up wasn't mine). For quite a long time I struggled with understanding where I stood with these people, even though they were never outrightly or intentionally mean. I just constantly felt like a puzzle piece being pushed into the wrong hole. And so to compensate, there was this compelling need to stand out. Which to think back, was so so unhealthy. This morning during commute, I replayed Friday's sharings and reevaluated how I felt with this group of people, and I was so relieved to realise I don't care about what they think of me anymore, because they don't mean much to me. I REPEAT: THEY DON'T MEAN MUCH TO ME! The tendency to confuse length of knowing a person with the quality of the relationship is a trap many fall into I think? Anyway to know my muddled mind has some sort of clarity is quite heartening. I hope I continue to find people whom I can connect to and form meaningful friendships with. Till then, let bygones by bygones and to greater things ahead!
Posted at 11:28 am by nic
Sunday, February 12, 2017
I was in Melaka over the weekends, visiting my dad and my grandma. Stepping into the melaka house reminded me so much of my childhood. Seeing my dad's stuff all over the house, with his need to "improvise", with the Chinese posters, prayer alter, wind chimes, crystals and ornaments I've seen growing up pre-divorce... the messiness and simplicity of everything... it just felt like home. Even at 28, I don't think I've ever told anyone, or had anyone understand, just how traumatic it was going through years of being in the centre of my parents' non-marriage marriage. As a child, all you yearn for is a happy family where your parents love each other. We lived in a small apartment, and they managed to not speak to one another for a solid couple of years. Can you imagine that? Meals and outings were with either one at any one time, and never together even though we all lived under one roof. My dad ended up moving to the study room and they lived separately together... I'm surprised I could not see the absurdity of it all. But what I sensed was an undercurrent of tension, mistrust, anger and spite.. something which I still feel today on my mum's part.
Anyway, being at that house made me feel the peace, love and nostalgia I haven't felt in a while. Pops cooked breakfast for me, taught me how to drive, bought popiah for me. Simple gestures, but from the heart and done with real love. I love you dad.
Posted at 09:52 pm by nic
In one home
treading pit holes of treason, fraternization, mis-allegiance
shouts of silence
so soft yet so loud
Posted at 09:41 pm by nic
Friday, February 10, 2017
The post-divorce saga continues.
In the meanwhile, here is a striking song by Bon Iver. Because I didn't study literature, often times I have difficulty deciphering poetry. Nevertheless, I feel its beautifully written."Hinnom, TX"
in the first of light
past the Noachide
bodies wrapped in white
stranded every pain
baby, pasts are slain
“I got outta La Grange…”
all this time
with your heart in mind
didn’t you edit
go, the least
and the precious feast
sand it starts to steal
dirt and ice imbed in cheeks
in the potter’s field
well it swirls and sweeps
you just set it
nether passage in the wind
off pennant tension ring
on the wettest ground
not to vet it
Posted at 04:25 pm by nic
Wednesday, February 08, 2017
In the name of....
I'M BACK! Half a month ago, I found myself mysteriously drawn to seek ghosts and shadows of my younger self - to find hints mostly - that I wasn't like what I am now... lame, misguided, uninspired and partly dead inside. As I absorbed the entries I put out when I was 22-25, it is strange to say but I began to draw inspiration from the younger me. GOD I was so enthusiastic about life! about learning! I craved experiences so deeply, felt so strongly about being in the moment and saying YES to everything... it's almost laughable how much of the opposite I am at the moment.
I'm not going to waste time wondering what happened because I wouldn't know. Maybe it'd be simpler if I blamed it on the "age thing" where your spirit mysteriously dissolves. My reason for return was triggered by a conversation I had with my mum earlier. I remember vividly pounding the keys and pouring my thoughts out in this little blogspace when my parents were going through their divorce. So the conversation I had with my mum just now, about me visiting my dad over the weekends, brought me back to the similar place of unease and tension. And the same need to relieve that tension through blog diarrhea came back almost naturally.
Well some updates for no one! I've been travelling alot since the last entry which was.... 2013! I've had the privilege of visiting beautiful countries like Norway, Nepal, Mongolia, Japan, Philippines etc and have inadvertently fallen in love with the whole trekking and camping thing. From my travels, I've learnt that hauling a 13kg backpack is not smart and also Very Not Fun - so my newest obsession is going Ultralight without sacrificing function. Have been going slightly gear-crazy recently researching sleeping bags, tents, backpack... aka the "Big Three". MORE ON THIS LATER!
Job wise... don't balk when I say this... I'M STILL AT THE JOB I BEGAN 4 YEARS AGO. LE GASSSSSSSSSP. WHO WOULD HAVE KNOWN? NOT ME!
It's very comfortable there to the point where it scares me a little. But it's like a beanbag which you fall into. The feeling of sinking into this very safe place where everything else moulds around you and you become one with it. This is what I'm feeling and it's very very very hard to retrieve myself. Which leads me to think if I'm uninspired and also lazy. The answer might be yes and yes and oh no but I don't care. There's a saying: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. These days I'm full of shitty excuses.
One thing that struck me when I was reading younger-me thoughts was how I kept wishing I could be happier. Finding "happiness" seemed to occupy a large part of my younger years and I really do wonder why. These days, I think it's getting a lot better, and I'm rarely at that point where I wished to be happy. It's pretty disconcerting, to think of it. Was I discontented with life then? What was I really yearning for when I wanted happiness? I wish I wasn't so vague in my blog posts! But to be able to say all these now means I've achieved what I hoped for - to be contented to the point I can't even remember my past sadness. For that I'm proud... of how much I've grown, how much I've un-grown, and how much I'll continue to grow.
It's lovely to be back.
Posted at 10:06 pm by nic