Something to distract me from the move: A book review!

I’m a fairly voracious reader and generally have about 2- 3 books on the go at any one time. While I’ve been a little busy sorting out my worldly goods into keep/donate/trash piles, I’ve also had some welcome distractions such as this new release from Michael Muntisov and Greg Finlayson. I’m a little biased as I enjoy speculative fiction, but do give this a read!


Court of the Grandchildren, Michael Muntisov and Greg Finlayson, Odyssey Books 2021

Full review of the The Court of the Grandchildren by Michael Muntisov and Greg Finlayson, Odyssey Books, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I have always enjoyed speculative fiction, so naturally jumped at the chance to review The Court of the Grandchildren (thank you Odyssey Books!). Although this story doesn’t seem to be that speculative, given the themes explored in the book – the impact of climate change on future generations, the use of predictive models to determine government policies (climate policy to be exact), and human-AI (artificial intelligence) relations. In reading this, you can almost see the trajectory of societal development if we don’t take drastic action to mitigate climate change. Or is it already too late, and future generations will judge us accordingly for our inaction and lack of political will in finding a resolution to this crisis.

Set in 2059 in a climate-ravaged America where inland states are dealing with the influx of climate refugees from coastal states, the Court of the Grandchildren weaves the story of Lily Miyashiro and David Moreland, long-lost kin navigating life in this Anthropocene era. The major difference is David is of the “burner” generation, a derogatory term used to describe the elderly generation whose actions have led to the current state of the world. Burners are often harassed on the streets, with the general population deeming them responsible for the death and destruction wrought upon the earth.

In seeking an end to his 96 years, David needs agreement from his great-niece Lily as well fulfill all outstanding social obligations, i.e., facing the “Climate Court” (a Truth & Reconciliation style commission where past wrongdoings pertaining to the climate are examined in the hope of healing and bringing about closure for those whose lives have been upended by the actions of the previous generation.  Together with his carer, Lily encourages David to face the Climate Court, where his decisions in shaping America’s (and possibly the world’s) climate policies would be called into question and judgement rendered by public vote.

Told from both Lily’s and David’s POV and interspersed with transcripts of David’s appearance in the Climate Court, this is a well-paced and engaging story with well-developed characters whose life experiences have shaped their views. Supporting characters are also layered and multi-dimensional, and complements David’s and Lily’s stories.

In addition to highlighting the fact that the use of predictive models in determining government policy shouldn’t be taken as gospel (our decisions are only as good as our data!), I especially liked the book’s exploration of the human – AI relationship, alluding to the question if humans and AI can co-exist harmoniously, or if humans would be made redundant when AI seemingly takes over all forms of interactions. With the ubiquity of AI in this world, people are naturally wary of how much AI is encroaching into human life, and both David and Lily are suspicious of the role of AI in their world. However, as the story progresses, they see how it was AI that brought them together, and they realise how beneficial AI can be, not only for companionship but in assisting with decision-making as well.   

All in all, this is an engrossing and timely story, given the state of the world today. Highly recommend!

And now back to advertising my furniture online. Only 2 more months to go!

Saying goodbye to my yellow brick road.

“Oh, I’ve finally decided my future lies

Beyond the yellow brick road.”

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Bernie Taupin/ Elton John, 1973, Universal Music Publishing Group

You know how sometimes certain songs pop randomly into your head and you’ll end up listening to them over and over and over again? Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is currently that song for me – I was humming it on Monday for some reason, and maybe it’s my subconscious preparing me for the next chapter of my life. After all, Bernie Taupin wrote this as a metaphor of giving up the glamourous lifestyle for a quieter one; which obviously speaks to me at some level.

Not that my life in Melbourne is so glamourous (just your average inner-city young-ish professional who enjoys good coffee, good food, good wine/cocktails, literature and the visual arts), but it certainly will be a fairly different life in Yorkshire I think. For starters, Kingston-upon-Hull is a small-ish city in East Yorkshire and I imagine the pace of life won’t be as frenetic as what I’m used to. Funnily enough, when catching up with a good friend on Easter Sunday at The Arbory, we spoke about how noisy living in the city fringes can be. Now that she’s in outer suburbia in Victoria, she realises she doesn’t miss the noises we’re so used to… for instance, trams rattling down their tracks, trains whizzing by and for us who live relatively close to the airport (i.e. me), the roar of planes methodically making their descent onto the Tullamarine Airport runways. And that’s just the traffic.

To be honest, I don’t know what the pace of my life will be in Hull. All I know is that I’ll be moving from a big, globalised city to a smaller one. And what a massive shift that will be for me. Growing up in a city-state like Singapore where 6 million people cram into this teeny tiny island and then Melbourne, Hull will be so much quieter in comparison. At least for me. Which brings me back to the point of why I have Goodbye Yellow Brick Road stuck in my head.

While S and I have been talking about my moving to Hull for so long (5 years or thereabouts – one day I’ll get into how we’ve endured long-distance thus far!), it doesn’t feel real… until the visa came through. And now with some of the bureaucracy underway, I’m feeling less anxious and actually am starting to look forward to the move. Hah, this feels like my wedding when I only started to get excited about a couple of months before the day. But sometimes you just gotta let your mind work itself out and it’ll eventually get on board with where things are at.

Speaking of – little move updates below! After all, isn’t what the blog is all about…?

In Progress/ Done

  • Hard rubbish collection – Done. My little shelving units and bedside tables, along with other assorted rubbish, have been disassembled and collected by the council.
  • UK Transfer of Residence application – In Progress. It’s so weird itemising the things I’m bringing over. e.g. 1 Dutch oven; 2 baking dishes
  • Australian Government Travel Exemption Request – Done. That came in so quick.
  • Flights to Singapore and the UK – Done. I am so excited to see the parentals, my sister and most importantly, my not-so wee niece! The last time I saw her was in 2019 when S came to Singapore to meet my family and she was a little baby then!
Yes I do feel like her! 😀
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Still to do…

Of course I still have a fuckload to do…

  • Lease agreement – speak to the realtor next week.
  • Superannuation funds – meeting organised to discuss options on Monday.
  • Donations – large furniture, books and clothes. Something for the weekend. At least with the books and clothes.
  • Transition plans at work. This is a huge one. I’ve been at my current organisation for 11 years…! 6 years full-time in my primary role, and 5 years in various secondments/side projects.
  • Covid-PCR Tests and other travel requirements. Well that’s one of the last few things on my list.

But I’ll get there – now that I have a leave date. And in 2 months’ time! What the actual fuck indeed.

“My future lies beyond the yellow brick road…”

Photo by Kinga Longa on Pexels.com

Melbourne Easter snapshots: Flinders St Station

I once saw a Pin (in a mindless Pinterest browse) suggesting to “take a camera wherever you go” and create a visual diary. Never has such words ring truer when you have a leaving deadline. The sights I’m so familiar with will one day be just fond memories…

So I present to you Flinders Street railway station. As someone who lives on the fringes of the city and someone who doesn’t drive, Flinders St Station is my travel touchpoint (so to speak) and connects me to every nook and cranny of Melbourne. And not just by rail either, with its nearby tram stops taking me all around town.

Flinders St Station – an iconic Melbourne landmark. “Meet me at the clocks!” is a common refrain.
The Arbory – in true Melbourne fashion, we have a cocktail bar right next to Flinders St Station. Many a fun, drunken night out with good friends.
And Flinders St all lit up in the night sky.

In preparation for new beginnings.

The universe must’ve heard my sneaky plans to dump my small furniture on the nature strip in the hopes of them being picked up by randoms; and lo and behold! My realtor sent round an email last week advising us she’s arranged for a hard rubbish collection for the entire apartment complex, to be picked up on Easter Monday. Huzzah! Maybe there is something to be said about the whole idea of “manifesting”.

That’s Easter 2021 sorted for me. It does seem rather symbolic, with Easter being a time for rebirth and new beginnings etc etc. While it’s a little different to my usual Easter plans (brunch with friends, gallery hopping) but it’s got to be done. Plus 2020 has shown the entire world there’s no such thing as “usual” or “normal”!

It’s been a couple of odd weeks…

Since the settlement visa was granted and since I’ve made initial inroads into arranging an international relocation, I’ve been in a mental funk (for a lack of a better word) over this move. I think the fact that this is such a big life change (and navigating the practicalities of it all on my own) has brought to the fore deep-seated feelings of stress, anxiety and insecurity that I didn’t even know existed. Which is silly, when the world is still grappling with the ramifications of a global pandemic.

Let me be clear – I am excited for his new chapter of my life. I mean, how many people can say they would have had the privilege of living in 3 different countries in their lifetime? But every now and then, I wonder if I’ve made the right choice; or if in hindsight I should’ve pushed harder for him to move to Australia and not the other way around.

I know in my head dealing with the practicalities is the least of my worries – it’s pretty much a few solid hours of decluttering of my personal items into piles to throw, donate and keep; taking photos of my furniture for charitable organisations and Facebook Marketplace, and emailing the realtor about organising a hard rubbish pickup to get rid of my little shelving units (or sneakily dumping them onto the nature strip for people to refurbish shhhh don’t tell the council). I know all that; it’s just these huge mental and emotional blocks that’s somehow causing me to fall into a state of despair even when thinking about undertaking the practical tasks. And how do I know I’m stressed and anxious? I’m not even motivated to bake. Like I’ll have the eggs and butter sitting on my counter to bring them to room temperature planning to make cookies or brownies or cakes… then I’ll look at them and think it’s all too hard and I just want to curl up in bed watching Lord of The Rings over and over again (extended versions of course, but theatrical releases on Netflix work a pinch in these times). Which has been the case for a couple of weeks now.

So what’s causing all this stress and anxiety, you may ask; and why don’t I talk to my husband about it – especially when this move affects him too? Well I guess he has the easier task at hand – finding a place for us and moving his stuff there. Plus I know he’s been hard at work ensuring my transition into a different country is as seamless as possible; asking friends of friends to hang out with me etc. but in reality, his life wouldn’t have changed that much. It’s my life that’s been upended.

To be honest, I don’t know why I’m reluctant to talk to him about it…in fact to anyone at all. As discussed over loads of wine with a few good friends (I don’t let many people into my inner sanctum), I find it hard to talk about feelings with other people (yes, including my own husband; which no doubt upsets him) and would prefer them to be buried so deep and locked into boxes where the keys get thrown away and I don’t have to deal with them. Until I’m two bottles of wine in and then it all spills and overflows, and I can’t help the torrent of tears that’s been bubbling up and eventually boils over; and it feels like I’ve been hit by a tsunami of feelings that I don’t even know where to begin to deal with.

I think perhaps I’m not giving my husband enough credit – he’s just so practical and stereotypically British (“just get on with it”) that sometimes I think even if I tell him, he won’t understand. Or he’ll try to jump in and find solutions… and you know what, I don’t need solutions. I know what the solutions are.

What, then, do I need? I need to find a way (quickly!) to process and handle this change. It might seem trivial but uprooting a life that I’ve built on my own for the past 9 years or so is pretty fucking scary. All the friendships and connections that I’ve made and cultivated; the support network I’ve formed that I know I can rely on would be gone (granted they will literally be phone calls/ FaceTime/ Zoom away) but they physically won’t be there anymore. I know this will all take time to rebuild, but what if I end up in a different country with no friends to call my own and having to rely on my husband all the time? I don’t want to end up clingy, you know?

And to be perfectly honest – a lot of the stress and anxiety I’m having has got to do with the fact that I’ll be relying on my husband for a bit. I’ll be moving to a different country with no job, no income of my own and will need to rely on him financially. Look, we’ve discussed this, and he is more than happy to bear the financial burden, which I am so grateful for. I think it’s so hard for me because I’ve been financially independent for over 12 years now and I enjoy the freedom that independence brings. And to have to rely on someone else (even for a little while) is something I’m really struggling to deal with. I think when you’ve been on your own (physically) for so long and having to do things by yourself without the practical help of a partner, the change (even if it’s for the better) is daunting. It doesn’t sound rational at all but perhaps it’s that fear of the loss of my independence that’s causing so much anxiety. Which is ridiculous I know, it’s not like he’ll locked me up in a cage and not let me live my life. I’m probably just overthinking it.

There you have it, anonymous readers. I’ve let it all out into the unknown ethers of internet.  

Lack of progress.

I haven’t made any real progress with the move. I guess it’s a little hard – while I do need to start donating my furniture, white goods and other personal items I’m still in need of them whilst I’m living in my apartment; and will only be able to give them away or dispose of them closer to the dates of my move. Plus I’m now back in the office most of the days, so I can’t just take a couple of hours here and there at home to declutter. Well I suppose I have the evenings, but omg, I am just soooo exhausted by the end of the workday (more mentally than physically). *sigh* Who knew relocating internationally would be so friggin’ difficult.

At the same time, I can’t seem to shake off this massive feeling of being overwhelmed by just having so much to organise and do, in the lead-up to this move. Maybe this is why I’m so mentally exhausted… that part of me that’s generally focused, head down, bum up and get on with things is suddenly not getting on with things. To be honest, I am generally a massive procrastinator but I do get things done in the end. But it feels a little different this time. Urgh, I’ll just have to push through, given the urgency.

Technically, this isn’t my first time moving countries but my first was so different compared to this. I was 20, moving from Singapore to Melbourne to pursue a degree in communications/ politics; and I had the parentals for three weeks to help with settling in. Plus the parentals had friends already living here, so it wasn’t like I was starting from scratch. Barely a year in, I met a boy and pretty much shacked up with him for seven years. And I pretty much bought new furniture etc into my current apartment when that relationship ended. See, easy.

If I had the spouse with me, I could easily delegate some moving tasks to him e.g. liaising with charitable organisations, moving little bits and bobs to the tip or something. Alas, Covid has put a k-bosh on those plans. If he could even take time off work to fly halfway across the world, he’ll need to quarantine for 2 weeks anyway (yay thanks travel ban).

Perhaps I am approaching it in the wrong way … perhaps rather than attempting to list everything that needs disposing/ donated/ sold, I should start making little piles of what I’ll be wanting to ship over. I mean, I have to start somewhere, don’t I?

Well if anyone reading this is in Melbourne and in need of furniture and kitchenware, do let me know as they’re all free to good homes! Lol, this is my little attempt at putting my wishes out there in the universe (that’s the manifesting mumno-jumbo right?)…

Yep, this is me right now.

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Project Operation Humberside.

After a whole month of feeling relieved and overwhelmed at receiving the outcome of my settlement visa application, it’s time to knuckle down, plan out all the administrative matters (yay for Trello to project manage my life) and start the massive de-cluttering process. ARGHHHHH

It’s something we don’t really think about, do we? How much material goods we accumulate and how quickly things fill up our homes. Consumerist culture at its finest.

I mean, I live in a two-bedroom apartment and I look around… holy fuck, 15 years’ worth of stuff to sort through – donate, throw or keep. Busy is an understatement for the next 2 – 3 months.

Project Operation Humberside is now underway. First things, international relocation company booked. Next will be to arrange for my furniture to be donated or given away; re-homing some of my favourite books; and then ringing the realtor to discuss the end of my lease…after 9 years of living in my light-filled, spacious ground floor apartment in northwest Melbourne.

Visa approved.

Last week my passport was returned, together with the all important document: my visa approval letter. I now have until 30 July to get my butt into the UK!

After nearly 7 years, there’s finally light at the end of this long-distance relationship tunnel. can finally start our life together.

Mostly I feel relieved at receiving the decision; I’m sure the panic will kick in once I’ve put down on paper how much I have to do in the next 3 months (well, assuming I can spend some time in Singapore to see the family).

Immigration’s a bitch.

Of course, my words are not gospel. Just sharing my experiences navigating a complex and expensive bureaucratic process.

After years of planning, the settlement application is now submitted.

And now we wait.