Monday, March 02, 2015

MUSIC!!!



Hello, Irina's readers! 

Yi Ming here. Irina's fast asleep now, so I'm captain of this ship (or at least until she wakes up and changes the password). Don't worry, I'm not here to make you suffer through another interminable ramble about love - well, not on this occasion, at least. I'm here to share with you mankind's greatest invention, which is - ready for it? - 

!!!  M U S I C  !!!

Sorry to have underwhelmed. The thing is, Irina and I were discussing the idea of sharing our favourite songs with you guys for quite awhile now and I thought hey! What better a time to do so when I've got an essay and two tutorials begging for me to procrastinate doing! I thought it'd be a good exercise as well - at the very least, we can look back at this list a few years now and reminisce on how bad our taste was and how we tried so hard to be hip. Wait, hip, am I using it right? That's the in-word, no?

So behold! My top 10 tracks as of now. By no measure is this list exhaustive and there are so many more tracks I would love to share with you guys. Alas, a number limit is a number limit and you can't have a top 10 list consisting of 50 songs. That's just deceitful. But honestly, it was hard whittling it down to just 10 - it almost felt like I was giving away my own children as I cut song after song from the overweight list.

A lot of these song hold personal meaning towards me. They're arranged in an order that I felt would make the most sense. I hope that you like them as well.



1. Hannah Hunt - Vampire Weekend


It's really hard for me to think of all the reasons why I love this song. I've really liked the whole vibe Vampire Weekend gives off - an unconventional yet somehow lovely blend of earthy tribal beats mixed in with clean prep-school charm. I feel like this song could mean so many things, if you pay close enough attention to the lyrics. Is it someone mourning for love being lost, or for love being found in a hopeless situation? Whatever it is, the final chorus always has chills running through my spine. 

Irina moment: Irina sees no value in this song, no matter how hard I try. Thank God I love her so damn much. 



2. Cornerstone - Arctic Monkeys


Arctic. Monkeys. Need I say more? Anyone who knows me and my taste in music will already understand that they are my favourite band of all time and that I've been following since I was 14. And by God, have they come far. It was really tough narrowing it down to just one song, but this has to be it. This was the song that got me fully hooked onto them and the song that always reminds me how amazing a songwriter Alex Turner is. If you're reading this, thanks KT, for showing me this song and igniting a flame within me that hasn't dimmed even up till this day. 

Irina moment: There's not really one to this song but... there are other AM songs that we do share a connection with. Obviously, I've left hints.



3. Maps (Acoustic) - Yeah Yeah Yeahs



I'm a sucker for love songs and... this is THE love song. It's just the sweetness of her voice and the gentle plucking of the guitar strings that just makes it seem so... otherworldly. There's no way mere human beings could have composed something so beautiful. This is the ode to love that makes all other odes to love seem unromantic in comparison. It is the boyfriend that makes all others look like complete slobs. Anyway, yeah. The inner sentimental piece-o-shit in me loves this track. 

Irina moments: I put this song in the third acoustic mixtape I made for her and I think up till this day, she still thinks it's the best one (meaning my last 6 have been kinda useless hahahahah...sigh). Yeah, but this song always brings me back to the days when we were just first starting to fall in love with each other. 



4. Days - The Drums



This song has gotten me through a lot of things - heartbreaks mostly. "And the days go by, and I've never needed you" - this line is a pretty good wake-up call, isn't it? Although I listen to it a lot of less nowadays, it never fails to cheer me up and lift my spirits. This song casts feelings of doubt to the side and promises upcoming days full of hope and happiness. If you're going through a tough time - a break-up or a love-that-could-have-been, listen to this. Guaranteed fix-'er-upper.

Irina moment: There's not so much a specific "memory" as there as is a specific "feeling" I get whenever I hear this song. I always picture the same scene each time I hear this song, which is driving down the CTE late at night, with her by my side. And it's heaven.



5. Scar Tissue - Red Hot Chili Peppers



This song is a weird song for me. My first memories of it come from when I was just a wee lad, probably only just smart enough such that whatever I said could be considered barely intelligible. This song just makes me feel happy. It relaxes me and makes me feel as if I'm hurtling across the desert in a convertible. On that note, great track to play while driving. Just don't...fiddle with your phone / iPod while driving. Don't ah.

Irina moment: On the airplane, I played for her this song. She didn't say much about it, but she just put her head on my shoulder and fell asleep. I'd like to think that it was because she found it soothing and reassuring. Not because it was boring.



6. You Only Live Once - The Strokes



Strokes fans will probably turn their noses up at this one but, hey, I like it. I always feel kinda like a badass when I hear it and it makes me smile inwardly. Also, this is the song that got me in to The Strokes in the first place, so cheers to that. Just one of those songs you play when you want to have a good time. 

Irina moment: I don't think I've ever played this song for her, but I'm sure when I do, something special would happen. 



7. Late Night - Foals



This - this is the song. I've watched Foals twice now, once at the first ever Laneway festival in 2011 and the second time last year on the eve of my birthday. No band can channel the same energy as they can. Also, Yannis was the first ever person I saw smash a guitar while live on-stage. This song - which must be watched together with the music video - evokes so much feels within me. It might not be everyone's cup of tea (the video is quite explicit as well) but the introspective mood of the song always has me reflecting by the end of it. 

Irina moment: It was waaaay back when we were first starting to discover each other. We were studying together in the Esplanade library and sitting on the couch together, chilling and watching funny vines off youtube. Then, I showed her this song. She didn't really like it, but the entire time she was holding my hand (a novelty at the time). I didn't mind that, not one bit.



8. Home By Now - Bombay Bicycle Club



This song means so much to me because, essentially, it's Irina's song. I remember that early-on, when we first started dating, I took Irina to watch a Bombay Bicycle Club gig. I didn't really pay much attention to this song, but Irina did. So, one day, on a plane flight to Bangkok, I heard her playing this song on her iPhone and I was immediately hooked. Now, this song never fails to remind me of her. Since we live pretty far from each other, I always drive to her place to pick her up before we go out. This song reminds me of those precious car rides, with the girl I love awaiting me at the end.

Irina moment: Where do I begin?


9. Electric Feel - MGMT



This was the song that got me listening to music in the first place. I remember discovering it waaaay back in Secondary school together with my bff Lennard and thinking like we were the coolest shits on Earth (we really weren't, though). Whenever I listen to this song, I feel as if I'm taking a walk down memory lane and I'm greeting an old friend. Definitely worth listening to and hey, at your next party you could always try giving this an experimental spin. It might be a nice break from all that "Titanium". 

Irina moment: She likes the remixed version of the song, which I admit is good as well. I remember the first time she played that mix for me in the car and, as with all remixes, there was that spark that went on in my head when the gentle beats morphed into something familiar. It was at that point of time that I knew that yeah, she was a keeper. And also that her music taste is pretty on-point.



10. Night Time - The XX



A pseudo-Indie list wouldn't be complete without a song by the XX, would it? Come on- you knew it was coming. It was an eventuality. Well, whatever. This song is one of the most amazing songs I've heard. Just listen to it in a quiet place like in your room in the middle of the night. Put on your earphones, close your eyes and listen. You're welcome.

Irina moment: The first song I ever played for her on our very first ever date, as we were driving in the basement of Great World City (don't ask). This was the song that I thought would up my cred with her, and she replied with another XX song: Do You Mind? I think that was the point in time I knew that I was in for a tough time and that this girl was as head strong as she was charming. It's been a tough time, no doubt, but it's also been the best time.



Yeah, well there you have it. To those Indie kids that I've offended with my not-quite bleeding edge taste, I'm sorry. I genuinely find Lady Gaga to be one heckuva singer, to be honest. I think music taste doesn't really define a person - everyone should be entitled to enjoy something that they like and not be afraid to hide it. If you listen to Youth Lagoon, good for you. If you listen to Youth Lagoon and enjoy the occasional Blank Space sing along, even more power to you. Whatever you guys like, I'm happy for you. Long live music. 



Yi Ming



P.S I'll force Irina to do her own list soon. I think it'll be very interesting to show you guys how our music tastes differ and how, over time, we've influenced each other's preferences as well.

P.P.S do leave a comment about which songs you like and for any other audiophiles out there, please share your favourite songs! I'm all about that peer to peer sharing.





Thursday, February 26, 2015

MOOD:



(dark but tender)


I was supposed to be asleep. Instead, I chose to watch this video below that popped up on my Facebook feed and...cried buckets by the time the credits had begun to roll. I got Ming to watch it too ; to not feel so alone. He knew I wasn't okay from the contents of the video and called instantly to make sure everything was alright with me. Thanks, baby, for being simply amazing.

I have embedded the video below. I'm not sharing this with you to make you feel shitty; rather, I wish to acknowledge how real this fear inside of me is. As the saying goes: to solve a problem, one has to first recognise it as one. In order to battle with my inner-demons, self-awareness is an absolute necessity. 

Warning: If you aren't in the mood to invite some 'feels', please do not watch this.
It might make you an emotional train-wreck.


Oddly, or perhaps not so, I found the video to be too goddamn relatable. The woman in this video is exactly the kind of woman I aspire to be in future - strong yet supportive, cheeky yet endearing, silly yet charming (another topic for another day). This short film and the actress in it basically encapsulate my fear of going blind into an emotional yet probable story; I find the possibility of going blind  so real that... I am scared shitless. There are so many scary sicknesses in the world, yet the one I can least imagine myself in is one that leaves me crippled by the permanence of darkness.

When I dined in the dark with Yi Ming at NOX during one of our first few dates, I had a little chat with my server who had unfortunately turned blind due to an unintended side-effect from a minor surgery. My heart sank. A temporary problem exchanged for a permanent one is definitely one of the worst things that can happen to anyone. They say that it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. However for sight, I would rather not have had the chance or experience or register the beauty of the world if I've to live the rest of my life knowing what I'm missing out on. 

Though I found the beautiful lady in the film strangely familiar, I don't see the same strength she possesses within myself. In ever such a tragedy were to occur, I don't think I would be found by my work desk or office like her. Instead, I'd seek refuge in the most secluded corner of the house; searching for scraps of comfort as my inner demons fill my head with paranoia. Desperately, I would try to shield myself from reality and wait for the each day's end. As I expressed this (irrational) fear to Ming over the phone, he gently soothed me and told me this: "In that case, I shall work from home. If you ever call for help, I'll be there."

Then, from his words, I begun to understand. That was it. That was where the actress drew her strength from; her husband. She had to be okay. When you're married or have someone you love in mind, I think your instincts would naturally kick in. They would tell you to protect your significant other and not to cause them unnecessary worry. In other words, your love for another gives you little choice but to be brave.

I watched the Theory of Everything today and I have new-found mad respect for Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde. From what I understood from the film, they're one of the bravest couples I have ever encountered. I have begun to like Stephen Hawking a lot more after he's portrayed as a humorous man in the film. Everything seems much to go down smoother with a little sip of laughter, isn't it? They should have totally peppered that short film with occasional good ol' mild jokes. Maybe then I'd have managed it better.









Wednesday, February 25, 2015

12:48AM




She was most beautiful when she did as she wanted; when she ate what she wanted and sighed in satisfaction. When she wore what she wanted and walked in confidence. She was particularly spectacular when she loved…even when she received nothing in return.



Sunday, February 08, 2015

ODD




I am actually starting to dislike my favourite past time activity: scrolling Instagram newsfeed. It's gradually looking a lot like a pretentious social scheme. What is worse is that I've been relying on it for extra income. And I now, find myself... reliant. Looking at all the other louder or more interesting personalities on my timeline, I can't help but face some odd mini identity crisis. Now I begin to fathom why I have friends who chose to delete or stay away from Instagram to salvage/protect their self esteem.

It's hard to suppress the growing fear in you when you realise the exposure of all these personalities has unknowingly, perhaps, led to the slight dilution of your personality. Ok, let me try to make this clearer but giving you a scenario: let's just say you're running a restaurant and your business has been amazing with the marketing strategy you've been employing for the last few months. Suddenly, these new restaurants start to swoop in, and they are doing equally well with different marketing strategies... this is when naturally you'd be tempted with questions like, "Am I still doing this right?" "How do I stay differentiated?" "Am I still relevant?"

Recently, I did a feature for L'officiel (out in March) and one of the questions was, how did I get noticed (as a blogger) and I earnestly replied, "Just because I blog, I don't like being labelled as a blogger or influencer because I'm no Gandhi to influence. Also, famous is subjective. I think I just happen to be a lucky girl whose content happen to pique the interest of others." 

As much as my friends think I'm goofy and fun to be around, there's only so much I can show through the squares on Instagram and they are called still images for a reason. People choose to see what they wish to see anyway. The Irina you've in mind might probably be very different from the real Irina. People subconsciously build ideas of others from the little information they garner in their head, which is why some people stop liking their crush after getting to know them because the idea of them is far more attractive and appealing. There's nothing wrong with it. In fact, it's normal. I do it too. It's just that... what if the real Irina does not live up to the idea of Irina you have in your mind because the real Irina is only human and she's flawed.




Thank God, this space still offers me a comfortable amount of clarity.








Edited @12:05AM: People say artists shouldn't apologise for their art and I should probably not apologize for the incoherency of this post, but I feel sorry for my inability to put this post in a more comprehensive way that clearly projects my thoughts aloud.




Wednesday, January 28, 2015

TO BETTER SKIN

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Backgrounder


If you didn't already know, my skin is really sensitive - something I only realised one or two years back after getting my first bad breakout after puberty. It doesn't help that my part-time job gradually deteriorates the health of my skin by exposing it to different types of makeup during work. With such a number of foundation, blusher, powder applied on me I find it hard to keep track of whether they are suitable for my sensitive skin. As a model, you either bring your own foundation (and that's only if they allow you to use your own personal stash) or otherwise, grin and bear it. As such, you might once in a while meet makeup artists who don't take much pride in their job, leading to nasty encounters with dirty brushes and whatnots. 


"Ew" I know. This was a makeup artist's kit from one of the shows I did before the breakout. I would not say the hygiene of this kit directly caused the poor condition of my skin, but I'm also not saying it didn't either. I honestly don't know. It could be the hormones or it could be the gradual accumulative trauma effect from all these experiences I had at work. Hence, leading to the breakout.

No, it wasn't easy tackling skin problems.

1. I had to work. It wasn't easy going to work bare faced when your face was not at its tip-top state. Your self-esteem would naturally plunge as you compare yourself to other models working around you and worse, you start feeling bad for the makeup artist who has more work to do because of all the facial flaws she has to conceal. 

2. People say things like, "Oh, let your skin breathe!! Don't cover up. Let the pimples heal...", but really? The dilemma as to whether to put makeup or not wasn't easy to resolve. In the situation where your skin is under the attack of evil of pimples, I think, or rather I would naturally grasp for any concealers and foundations within reach in desperation, earnestly hoping that they would mask every trace of my insecurities. 

3. Eyes. Talking to people wasn't easy. Why? If you've or had skin problems, you'd understand how it is absolutely difficult to hold a conversation when you notice their eyes constantly straying to the concerned areas on your face. 


4. "What happened to your face??!!" that question becomes the epitome of rubbing salt into the wound.


Tried Seeking Help

I visited a known dermatologist centre that had been (still is, btw) aggressively advertised by many bloggers, in hope that it would be my best option. I paid $1.2K (!!!) upfront because.... ya la, to be honest, I was swayed by the convincing sales person and not forgetting the army of bloggers they sponsored. I went for a SINGLE facial session and NEVER returned eversince.

"You'll definitely not leave with your skin looking red. I promise! We are located in town leh. Do you think we would let you leave looking bad in town?" 

I was promised the above when I shared about my bad facial experience in my teenage years and how I hate walking out with red marks after the sessions. It just doesn't make sense how one can walk out looking much worse than before and to accept the absurdity of situation as part of the "recovery process"... That promise above was gold and immediately, I was SOLD. $1.2K. Ok.

And that, my friends, was the worst decision I had made in 2014. 
I left without looking at the mirror. The room was possibly strategically dimly lit anyway, so I didn't have the chance to scrutinise my face. Oblivious, I went home only to realise how bad my face was flaring with all the hideous red marks. It was so so bad. I know I should have taken photos for reference purposes but honestly, I was utterly damaged... a photo was the last thing on my mind and, far from comforting. 


Photos Don't Lie

Then, I received an email from Caring Skin. They asked if I was keen to take up an aesthetic-related blogging assignment. I was obviously apprehensive about it after the last experience. Eventually, I agreed to it after being guaranteed with the assurance of results. "In the event that your skin reacts badly to the treatment, Caring Skin will bear all the necessary costs for dermatologist treatments." Very professional. 

On my first visit, I had a chat with the Relationship Manager, Subrina. She analysed my skin with a machine that detects what your skin is currently lacking of - moisture? elasticity? etc. From there, they then decide the ideal treatment for your skin (a very, very good use of technology). 


Again, I was met with consoling words, "Don't worry. There will be no red marks. Our customers don't walk out with flaring red marks unless the pimples are already flaring. We only make it better, not worse." This time, I tried to take it with a pinch of salt. After all, I had nothing much to lose. My skin was already bad. If anything went wrong, they would be held liable. 

And unknowingly, this chance I took with Caring Skin turned out to be one of my best decision's ever in 2014. Caring Skin turned out to be my self-esteem saviour.



This was me with full on makeup and good lighting. It was very frustrating that the marks left by healed pimples were still visible despite my efforts to conceal them. They were way more obvious in real life.... you'll see later (continue scrolling)


Before removing makeup
After removing makeup
Areas of concern: Forehead, sides of cheeks, neck

Look at how bad my skin was. If Caring Skin is truly not as good as it is, I wouldn't have bothered disclosing such personal photos to you guys. Because I know it might help some of you out there who're battling skin issues, as much as it had helped me, 

*** And only after a few sessions***
TAKE NOTE OF THE DATE: 8th October to 22 October

My skin was quickly clearing up ^^

Most of the pimples had cleared, leaving only a few stubborn ones left.

And yes, this Nano treatment I did really help a lot with whitening.
By November, I was able to take no makeup selfies *grateful* I know this might sound a tad exaggerating but it's possible if you're determined enough. I diligently went for the treatments fortnightly after school, watched my diet, drank more water, tried to gt enough rest..... and stopped taking up runway gigs. Now, I'm only modelling for online stores, the risk of getting contaminated is a lot lower compared to having a make up artist sharing her brushes with 10 other runway models and myself.


Physically, it was effortless.

Mentally, it definitely is not easy battling skin problems. Irina understands the pain, which is why Irina chooses to disclose honest photos for you guys to see. No one should ever feel ashamed about having a solvable problem. The possible solution is potentially right here. I'm not saying the treatment will 100% work on you, I'm no doctor, but I've seen results and happy customers going in and out Caring Skin, and I am one of them. 

It's a very healthy, humble and cosy environment. Nothing fancy. The founder, herself lives to make others feel better about themselves through healthier skin. Instead of texting me to chase for the blog entry (like many clients would), she always checks if I'm doing alright after the facial session. And trust me, I can tell that it's all genuine. I'm certain that I'm getting this treatment not because I'm a blogger but because I'm a "patient" of hers. I brought my good friend there today and I'm pleased to say, she likes the place as much as I do.



The first trial only costs $88 while dermatologist's consultation easily costs up to $100 or more. Why not give it a go?

Caring has successfully treated my skin in a timespan of less than 3 months. I have now totally recovered from my breakout AND enjoyed being pampered by Caring's beauticians with face and shoulder massages in the process of recovery - physically, it was effortless (except the extractions ouch!!!!)

Knowing that its treatment is both safe and effective, I confidently urge you guys with troubled skin to go for a trial and see it for yourself if Caring is for you. There will not be any hard selling on their end, don't worry.

P.S. Not saying it's only for troubled skin, if you wanna look good for Valentine's or Chinese New Year, by all means, because I just pampered myself today too hehe.


Thank you

Looking back, I am really appreciative of those who had been by my side when I felt the ugly in my life. They looked me straight in the eyes without making me feel self-conscious about my poor skin condition. They did not make me feel any less beautiful. Also: I started dating Yi Ming at that point of time. I really don't know how he managed to see past it all.

It is very comforting to know that the state of my skin does not dictate who I am, though it did momentarily take a toll on my mental being. No matter how many times people say, beauty is skin deep.... we realistically understand that beauty on the inside can't get you free drinks at the bar.


Very Useful Information

Treatments I did: Nano Perfector
How many sessions: less than 12
Usual price: $280 (Per Session)
Special Promotion: “IRINA” for first trial of Nano Perfector at $88 and free eye-treatment on Off-Peak hours (11am-4pm) worth $88 * Valid till 30 April 2015

Book your appointment at:

No Photowonder no shit. This selfie was taken today after facial, no foundation but only with eyebrows drawn and lipstick on (for ootd purposes). Look forward to receiving happy emails from you guys, about how amazing you think Caring is too.






Sunday, January 18, 2015

HELLO AGAIN

How have you guys been? Hope your year end break was good enough to revitalize your soul for 2015. I haven't done up a New Year post because 1) it's a little too late now and 2) this post, as of now, is far more important to me.

Some of you may have noticed Yi Ming's departure on the 13th. So for the past few days, I've been trying to get my life back on track and just... be brave. I'm, slowly but surely, retuning myself to where I was before. Don't get me wrong. I'm okay and still happy; just that I can't deny it's tough doing this whole separation thing all over again or rather, again and again. I've been trying to put away these feels because I didn't think it was necessary for me to confront or reconcile with them. I thought I'd get used to feeling this way but they remained as raw as before. 

I'm writing this post to the most recent mixtape Ming made me. We always make each other's mixtapes since our first..... date(?). In fact, that's how it all started (though that's another story altogether).

Sidenote: Sweetie, I'm likin' the first song so far. Good job!

He really wanted to embed the playlist here as a surprise for me yesterday when the new mixtape was ready, but the silly boy didn't know how haha. Now, while he's asleep, I shall help him do so.

Because there has to be 8 tracks for the playlist to be published, I included my recent mix for him too.  Don't get your hopes up. No expectations, no disappointments. But I genuinely, do hope you discover some songs you might like in there.



"It gets easier."

For those who're currently in a long-distance relationship, whoever told you the above was probably lying. They were just trying to be polite but at the same time, had unknowingly offered you some false sense of security, because I don't think it gets any easier. It doesn't.

When you wave goodbye at the airport with the glass screen in between you and him, that alone feels like enough distance to take on. If you allow me to be melodramatic, I'd even go with how the physical pang of emptiness, deep inside, as your heart aches with the realization that ‘missing you’ doesn’t even begin to cover how much you miss him. I made it a point to not cry at the airport, at least not in front of him. Simply because, in situation like this, being strong for each other is a lot more important than putting the needs of one self first. So fight those tears and smile.


"It gets easier."

How is that possible when you have to be apart from someone you find yourself more in love with each day? How can that statement even justify the complications experienced from leaving someone you wish to keep closest to these days?

The worst thing besides the distance, would be the newfound desperation you discover when you're unexpectedly teased by the bad wifi (your boyfriend chose to attached himself to at the airport); just as he called to let you know he's safe after a 14-hour flight and that he missed you very much. When you have to experience clutching your phone tight to the receiver to trace any hint of connection back to him and repeatedly echo "hello" as you anxiously await for a reply, the realisation of distance will hit you hard and the feeling of being so out-of-reach will consume you whole. That's when you have to resign to reality - ok, stay sane and let's do this again.

We juggle with extremes of proximity. Being TOO FAR and TOO CLOSE and then TOO FAR again in the span of half a year can easily screw up any couple dynamics because the time needed to grasp the reality and to get comfortable again with the circumstances we are in is undoubtedly a feat.

It's always nice when the ringing finally stops, the line gets through with no interference and the voice you're familiar with gently coos, "Hi bb."



I'll be strong. 

I'll be even stronger when I see happy couples together, laughing, smiling and holding hands and doing all the things I wish I could be doing with you. 

I'll be strong for us.


Our Winter break was lovely. We had a lot of fun travelling around and even in Singapore itself, we truly had a blast. Despite you being 10924.916 km away, it's a nice thought to know someone always has you tucked away in the back of his mind as you both go about living separate lives.

When I have finally acknowledged how this is all just a temporary logistical challenge, it's much easier to come to term with the distance because if we are in for the long haul, we have bigger things to worry about.



Always come home safe to me

Despite all the shit LDR is known for, we try to stay focus and I hang on specifically for that moment when he lands in the arrival hall. We would both be engulfed with excitement so much so that no one should fault us for having the goofiest smile across our face. Because we've learnt to live in the moment and for those moments, it makes you believe there is no limit to how far love can travel.


Till the next flight home, baby.