#2070 | Calm down, it’s Taobao – Cheapest Thrills

Hey guys,

A quick post, one so you guys can all CALM DOWN, as it’s been approximately 4 days since I instagram storied my Taobao buys and got swamped immediately with over a hundred emails despite specifically saying that I would write a post when I had more time. Somehow, everyone seemed to assume that they were the exception instead of the norm, and this fifty of the hundred odd emails started something like: I know you said you would eventually write a post, but could I quickly just…

Well, guys, I’m not sure what point I was trying to prove with the above beyond the fact that FINE PEER PRESSURE WORKED. And here I am! With a list of my cheap buys, PLUS LINKS, so you guys can please calm down and let me go back to writing my thesis in peace!!!!!

(ha ha ha im not really grumpy, more like amused by the sheer number of people who went nuts about my cheap buys. I guess this just proves that everyone loves a deal, and also that excitement is catching? I dunno.)

Ok so, I use Ezbuy since I cannot understand how to navigate the Taobao site itself. This is not an Ad for ezbuy, I dont even know anyone working in Ezbuy. My sister is the one who taught me how to use ezbuy (the app and the site), which thankfully, is a ton easier to use than Taobao. Ezbuy is essentially a taobao agent based in Singapore, that is a hundred percent in English, so obviously it is both a life saver and your wallet’s worst nightmare!

Also, I’m just gonna use the Ezbuy product stock pictures, cos I dont have time to shoot nicely, and also cos this is a rushed and informative post more than a #aesthetic one, ok??

1. ELEPHANT HOLDER WITH WATER DRAINING THROUGH THE TRUNK. $1.29

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LINK

This is the number one thing everyone harassed me about, perhaps because it is so damned cute. It’s a toothbrush/kitchen utensils holder, and any dripping water gets drained out from the elephant trunk. Comes in a variety of colors, but the off white is the cutest IMHO.

2. TOTORO BACK CUSHION FOR CHAIR. WAS $7.50, NOW $3.50

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LINK

Can put behind your back, or hug it to sleep on your desk for a midday nap. So cute i bought one for my boyfriend and one for myself. What? Its only three bucks!

3. MARBLED PINK LAPTOP CASE WITH MAGNETIC FLAP CLOSURE. WAS 21 BUCKS NOW $7

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LINK

So worth it lah! It looked great when it arrived, the magnetic flap is a stroke of genius, and it even came with a free silicon keyboard cover! But I didn’t want it, so I gave that one away.

4. RETRO MAROON BOWLER BAG. $16 (but when I bought it, it was 13. So maybe the price fluctuates)

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LINK

I dunno why bits of the stock image is mosaic-ed off. It just occurred to me that maybe this is a fake bag from some famous brand, but I dont know enough about designer bags to identify it. And besides, the design is so common! In real life, this bag is great, though the shoulder flap is a bit lame. Still would buy again tho.

5. TRAVEL TOILETRIES BAG WITH HOOK. WAS $10 NOW $1.96 (wtf)

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LINK

HOW DO THEY MAKE MONEY AH? This is one of those times where you just shake your head and go, china. You are amazing China. I cant believe it’s only two bucks, this thing is so damned useful! And I love that it comes with a little hook so you can hang it up in your Airbnb toilet when you travel, or something!

6. ROSE GOLD WIRELESS MOUSE. WAS $15 NOW $6.

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LINK

This is a damned weird photo, dont ask me why there is a sleeping baby on the stock image. Because its a quiet mouse? I dont see the point. But this mouse is wireless, which is awesome cos i hate wires, and also, it is gorgeous in real life! The rose gold shade is mega pretty. I got it for my office iMac, which I bought second hand off carousel for $400 in case any of u accuse me of being a rich bitch. All about the budget life, y’all.

7. MARBLE PRINT STICKER FOR SURFACES, BECAUSE INSTAGRAM. $6

TB2y6_xlVXXXXXaXpXXXXXXXXXX_!!1756388313

LINK

Aiyah, very indulgent right? But I was gonna use this to upcycle one of my study tables at home. Until I got home two days ago, and my study table was GONE, because my dad took it to his office for goodness knows what. But this is still a cute buy, I think. I’ll find another use for it.


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Ok guys, that’s it. Sorry for the rushed post, I wrote this in half an hour because I have this thing called a thesis to write, and it is due in some months, so, you know. Life.

Ok love y’all stop harassing me for links they’re all here now, bye bye!

X
Jem

#2069 | life update; feb

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Ola, guys

No, I am not drinking two cups of coffee. One is my boyfriend’s. Though I would not put it past myself to drink two cups at a go, or three, or four…

Anyway. Like I’ve been complaining rather self consciously to the people around me, life has taken a decidedly more contained outlook this year thus far. This relates mostly to matters of academia, where my not so secret double life as a masters student has been cannibalising most of my time, of which I’d already had limited supply. This mostly means that in between commercial work, hosting, teaching, and thesis-writing, I have a window of about seven and a half minutes to do other things like try and have some semblance of a social life, and so my social circle has shrunk to about three – my boyfriend, my cat, and my other girlfriend who also rents office space at the Hive a desk over from me.

The self conscious element kicks in because I know that all things considered, it is a good life. A brief sacrifice of social life / fun is hardly a blip in the grander scheme of things, especially since, as everyone tells me, it’s only till August! But knowing that and feeling it is completely different matters. All my friends have gone out to play 🙁 I told my boyfriend, and I wanna go too.

Then go, he said.
I cant. I’ll feel guilty.
Then don’t.
But I want to play too.

And so the conversation loops and drags on. Sometimes I just loop the same conversation over and over to see how long it’ll be before the boyfriend tosses me a glass of wine to shut me up. But his patience has been both amusing and impressive thus far.

The only till August part saddens me too, because I love being in school. I love it! I’ve always been the type of kid who loved going to school everyday because I am a nerd and i love learning about new things that i may not have had the chance to encounter otherwise. I think I only started hating school when I was eighteen, and that was because I am seriously not a morning person (side note: all three classes I’ve taught so far have been extreme morning classes, and so I’ve started to think the university has an agenda against me.. or something). But even then I freakin loved finding an empty spot by the study benches to drink cheap 3-in-1 coffee and eat dollar-seaweed-chicken and study with friends. And so it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t, because I wish I had more time but I love the thing that is precisely taking up all my time, ie. school, and so.. I don’t know. This is a good problem to have, and a privilege, and I am just being a whiny bitch.

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Having a 4pm beer by myself on the roof of my office during my 7 minutes of free time per day

In any case. The commitment I made to myself to not go out and play till, I dunno, August – with the exception of 1. momentous occasions, aka my friends getting married or something 2. friends playing the friendship SOS card, aka someone broke up, someone has a emergency and needs support, someone etc etc etc 3. a friend from abroad dropping in to singapore, which happens more often than you’d think – has given me the mental freedom to devote nearly all my time to work and writing. The idea was to start off with 1-1.5k words of academic writing per day, then on alternate days either moving on to replying business emails and working on commercial work, or continuing my academic research and marking student papers. So far the plan has been functioning okay. If nothing else, I had a moment where I realised that no matter how spontaneously I’d like to believe I can live my life, I am still ultimately the sort of person who thrives on routine and compartmentalised decisions. The word neurotic has been used on me far too many times in the past year. I cannot find it in myself to disagree.

In concrete terms tho, this meant that in Feb I read two books, wrote about the best six books in my past six months, had a new editorial out for Paypal SEA, started working on phase two of my Times x Jemma Recommends book collection which is rolling out soon, and hijacked exactly two talks (one talk show for power98, one hosting gig for huawei mobile) with what I thought modern feminism represented, despite them both having engaged Jemma and not Jemimah to speak. Which, again, is how I realise that no matter how hard i try to keep them apart, my two worlds always inevitably end up crashing into each other. The other day I went to school and told a student I liked her eyeliner. Horror!

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BTS of recent gigs i did

In general I was feeling pretty productive and proud of my progress work wise and academia wise, but that is not to say (i explained to the bf) that i dont miss just hanging out with my friends. I wish i had something else to sacrifice, like a video game habit, but i dont. Which is why I was so chuffed when we decided to work out of a starbucks instead of the office yesterday, and a couple of our friends nearby crashed!!!!!!!

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And suddenly life was flowers and rainbows again.

A new week. Onward, I say. Happy Sunday, y’all.

x
Jem

#2068 | (Don’t) Break a Leg

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So nearly two years ago now, I received a call in the middle of the night from my boyfriend telling me he’d been side tackled during soccer and couldnt walk.

What do you mean you cant walk?
I cant walk.
You mean, your leg hurts?
No, I mean I literally can’t stand.

Don’t ask me why he was playing soccer in the middle of the night (he assures me night soccer is a thing) or how this happened (I am verily unacquainted with the technicalities and finer points of soccer) but after a night of anxious hand holding outside the hospital emergency room the verdict was a torn ACL. Or, as he likes to call it these days: Can’t go XXX, my leg spoil. The number one excuse for anything he doesn’t wanna do .. ha!

I remember sitting outside the hospital emergency room and briefly remembering a couple years back when I was wondering how relevant the Sport Science major my university offered was. Turns out the answer was very. A couple months on crutches and a year of physiotherapy later, it seems that sports injuries are insanely common and once gotten, a total pain in the ass. We can testify to that. (if you look at the photo above, you might be able to see his crutch peeking out from behind his leg during one of our anniversary dinners..)

Last year, when penning my Pre Grad Prep List, his injury came up again and again in my mind, especially when writing the bit about knowing your liabilities. Because the thing is, a year ago, we didn’t know the first thing about health coverage. A huge thing that we were worried about was his ligaments being pre-excluded from all future insurance policies – which can quickly turn into a really irritating preclusion since you have ligaments basically everywhere. If you run a quick search on torn ACLs and insurance policies on the web, sport forums are crawling with people worrying about being insured for their subsequent ligament injuries (again, re-ruptured ligaments are sadly common) and it seems like the likelihood of being covered again is 50/50 + 100% chance of headache when figuring that shit out.

I still won’t purport to know everything about health coverage or insurance, but having done some stuff with MediShield Life over the past couple of months, know a lot more than I did. And one of the biggest and most crucial takeaways for me, I think, is knowing that MediShield Life covers you for pre-existing conditions.*

**pre-existing conditions as an insurance term refers to medical conditions that you had before you purchased your insurance. So if you don’t have an insurance plan and you develop a condition, you won’t be able to buy a plan that will cover you for that condition..

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Immediately post-operation (the second one), where I was so distracted by Shane’s hair that I made him change his hairstyle to this after he discharged.
Him: “You come see me after an op and your biggest concern is my HAIR??”

This is something that few people know and even fewer people realise the implications of. In the process of figuring life out post-graduation (bills, bills, bills), getting properly insured is one of the hugest headaches because if youre anything like me, the nitty gritty details of an insurance policy and the different types youre recommended to get will give you a migraine. But this is something that I think is the most immediately relevant and crucial to everyone. The term pre-existing conditions gets thrown around a lot when dealing with insurance, and knowing that MediShield Life has a clause covering pre-existing conditions is a huge sigh of relief all around.

This is important because:

1. It’s damned hard to find a private insurer to cover your pre-existing conditions – there’s a 99.9% chance that they won’t.
2. It’s good to know for your parents because MediShield Life covers new and pre-existing heart related illnesses, and chronic conditions (think diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol), which are increasingly common in Singapore today.
3. EVERYONE HAS MEDISHIELD LIFE ALREADY. So knowing how it works for you is not only really important, it might save you a ton of money and worrying in the future!

Your MediShield Life claim amount gets renewed every policy year. Which effectively means what I’ve been saying this whole post: that you’re covered for pre-existing conditions, and your coverage will not change even if you develop a condition.

Yes. So that Public Service Announcement was basically the main point of this post – a huge highlighter ran over and over the point that you are covered for pre-existing conditions under MediShield Life. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to know this, both for yourself and for your parents moving forward. It is probably (to me) one of the hugest advantages of this healthcare policy and thankfully an inclusive one implemented by the state because it means that this huge advantage is dumped on you whether you understand it or not. Thankfully.

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waiting for shane while he goes for physiotherapy

So if you think healthcare insurance (i.e. MediShield Life and IPs) might be something you want to know more about, the right people to ask will be at the MediShield Life roadshow on 25th of Feb at Toa Payoh HDB Hub Mall – so make it a point to go down between 11am to 6pm and have a chat with them to get some answers and clarifications on how all this works.

Alright, so that’s about it. It’s really important to know, so I guess what I’m saying is, FIGURE IT OUT. Both for yourself and your loved ones, especially on behalf of your parents if they’re not the type to read up on the nitty gritties. It’s part of adulting.

Till next time.
x
Jem

#2066 | #LAdiaries – One Cold Night in DTLA

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The Broad Museum, Los Angeles
Wearing: Her Velvet Vase

My time in Los Angeles was very short, and very sweet. My first time in the city of angels, and for only four and a half days. And no Disneyland! That’s how you know I’ll be back, no disneyland. Ha. I am so predictable as a basic girl in her twenties. I was there on a work trip, as mentioned before, and in my Griffith post I mentioned us not actually having any scheduled free time. But what free time I did have, I made the most of. Consequently my short sojourn in Los Angeles felt like a good block of time spent doing many different things (half of which full credit goes to Airbnb’s wonderful itinerary). Today’s story revolves around this one cold night I had alone in DTLA, after my half-day Airbnb Experience with The Adventureman had ended. I’d found myself back in the city feeling the soft lapping of jet lag and skin kissed by salt and sun. I thought to myself, four days in LA. No time for naps. I can nap when i’m dead (a sentiment I actually heartily disavow on a regular basis, me being a girl who loves my sleep). And so I showered, changed, and headed out again.

My remaining half-hour of sunlight for the day was spent in an uber with a lady driver who had a personality bigger than the sum of our carseat space. She sang ditties nonstop, had no idea where she was going, and then told me that it was sad, real sad! that her GPS was full of shit! A real tragedy, she said again, shaking her head at me, in between breaths of singing along to Bruno Mars. It was like living in a reality tv show. I didn’t really know what to say, so I shrugged and smiled. It’s sad, she said again, then dropped me off outside The Broad.

Im not someone who loves to spend my entire day indoors in a museum when traveling, but I have to say, some of the best museums Ive seen have really blown me away. I snuck into The Broad on my media pass (dubious looks from the guard, but he waved me through anyway) and it was a nice, easy museum that was also very enjoyable. It’s small, for one, just two storeys, and each exhibit is properly explained in real-speak. That is to say, the way a friend would explain it to you, and not in some highfalutin art speak. I wandered around on double speed, moped a bit about having to skip the Yayoi Kusama exhibit (a 1.5 hr wait was too much of a luxury i couldn’t afford), and left after slightly over an hour.

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“Contemporary Art”

When I emerged it was dark. Dark in LA is not like Dark in Singapore. There are dense city lights you chalk up to light pollution, but the stars shine so bright you forget for a moment everything you think you know about science and the sky. From The Broad I basically ran down the road to the Frank Gehry Walt Disney Concert Hall, something I’ve wanted to see for almost five years now. Architecturally it’s a wonder, but you forget all that then you’re faced with the hall. You just stand before it, overwhelmed. Touched? Is it too silly and cheesy to say I felt my heart clench? But it did, and so I will. Some things just take your breath away. Though fair disclaimer – I’m the type who cries at everything. The first time I saw the Eiffel tower at twenty one, I sobbed. Little girl dreams come true and all that.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall was everything I hoped it would be from the outside. People slowed as they passed it, to look up in wonder. Sighs were heard. Other people smiled. The occasional tourists brushed by me holding everything from iPhones for selfies to huge DSLR for mood shots. I gave myself ten minutes to gape at the Hall – I had agreed to meet the rest of the Singaporean media at In-And-Out for our first iconic burger experience in half an hour. But ten minutes was all I needed. When something is as innately beautiful as that, you don’t need much skill. You just need to be impressed, let yourself savour the moment, then snap once.

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the beautiful Walt Disney Concert Hall by night

One day, I told myself, I’ll watch a concert in there. My uber driver honked.

Half an hour ride. It takes half an hour to get anywhere within the city, it seems. I have to admit that the ride there was cold and disappointing. Where was the bustle of the movies, the charm of the streets? Outside the car it was quiet and dark. The stars shone on. The pavements did not. I wondered where all the people were, and something floated back to me as if from another life: a friend casually telling me that you party in LA, at the house of someone if you know someone who knows someone.. bar culture isn’t as strong as it is back in other cities while I looked on in envy. Well, I thought. This is me, looking in from the outside. I know no one, and so the city turns from me.

I do have a flair for the melodramatic, if you hadn’t already guessed.

In and Out appeared so suddenly I must have dozed off in the car. A yellow and red neon monstrosity! The famous Sunset Boulevard. Still feeling mildly underwhelmed, I went in and got seats for the four of us. Somehow defending an empty booth as a single asian girl against hungry Americans seems every bit as iconic an experience as any other. Glares all around! I kept my head down and looked at my phone. I act big when I’m on home turf but abroad I’m always so afraid someone will come and punch me for no good reason. I watch too much TV, I think. And the rest arrived, and we had the famous burgers they talk about, “animal style”.

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In-n-Out Los Angeles

I am heartbroken to be the bearer of unpopular opinion. The burgers were alright. We all stared at each other while eating, making eye contact, waiting for the first person to whimper or moan. It’s always a strange and communal experience, eating messy food with people you cordially know. We got much friendlier later, but these were early days, hours. Finally, Adele spoke up. They’re.. okay.

What a relief! We agreed that they were neither the best nor worst burgers of our lives, and I volunteered my own experience at Shake Shack in New York – mindblowingly average. Do I just not have the right kind of taste buds? Who knows. In-n-Out was really cheap for what it was though, and the old school American diner experience was enjoyable if only because we (I?) pictured myself in a different time, different age half-subconsciously when munching down on my chow. I told my friend this later and she looked at me in disgust. You’re crazy, she said. Those are the best burgers in the world. Ah, well.

Walking down Sunset Boulevard post-meal we all seemed half hopeful. Herein lies the avenue people write songs about. Make movies about. Herein lies the avenue where things seem dead past 7pm. What was going on? We made small talk, wondered where all the people were, agreed that there had to be more to LA than this. Privately I felt personally let down by the city, let down by pop culture, let down by what hollywood had led me to believe. No lights, no bustle. Druggies on the road, neon signs indicating a special kind of ‘pharmacist’. Cause and consequence. The most exciting thing we saw was a 24/7 grocery store – because everyone loves grocery stores. What kind of peanut butter can you get in America that you can’t get elsewhere? Is what i’m saying.

On and on we walked. It felt like we were afraid to give up and go home, because to do so would be to give in to the city’s rejection of us. We could be fun. We could be exciting. Why wouldn’t it open up? At least, that’s how I felt. Only four days in LA, and I’d be damned if I were to waste a night and go home early just because i couldn’t find something new to try.

We passed a comic book store and a couple of people lingering outside, smoking, laughing, and talking. Again I felt the sense of being left out wash over me. I walked over and asked them where they were going, what they were waiting for. There’s a comedy show starting soon at the back of this comic shop..

Lo and behold!

But the comedy show was sold out. Next door, however, had yet another show that had started fifteen minutes ago, that still sold standing room tickets for five bucks. Yes? Yes? Obviously. We went in.

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Enter: the best five dollars I spent in LA. The Nerdist School Stage, which was the name of the comedy improv club we went to, was fantastic. I personally love comedy shows, but I know they’re not necessarily for everyone. A lot of people are adverse to comedy shows because of the heckling, and Improv both eases that fear since the comedians use their own material, and grants you access to comedy anyway.

Three shows, we watched, and the last of which was performed by this group called Beyond The Disney Vault. Where the rejected disney movies live is their tagline. They consist a group of improv actors and musicians (pictured above), who start the show by asking the audience for a word. They then improvise an entire MUSICAL, complete with original song, harmony, and actual character script, on the spot.

It was incredible. I could not even begin to comprehend the kind of talent an individual would have to possess, as well as the kind of insane chemistry with the rest of one’s troupe, to be able to invent, harmonise, and stitch together a coherent piece of work on the spot. And in case you suspect the musicals were pre-written, the audience word thrown out for our show was “Boomerang”. How do you anticipate that?

An hour later, we stumbled out of the club and into the cold, raving and amazed. We were down to two: Kenath and Adele had left earlier, citing jet lag. Serene and I wandered around a bit more, me half reluctant to call it a night, ready to go some more, her wanting to get back to the apartment to Skype her kid. We settled on a workable compromise: called an uber, and asked her to detour and drive down Hollywood Boulevard so we could see it from the car on the way home. It was like a free tour – the old lady who picked us up was so excited to explain the history of the different buildings up and down the avenue of the stars, we couldn’t imagine a better way to have seen the Boulevard. And things were actually happening on that street, people were snapping photographs of the stars on the floor, there were movie theatres, shopping malls. But we sped past them all, gaping at the lights and people, semi-grateful we were able to relax and admire from the darkness of the car.

A left turn onto the freeway. Hollywood Boulevard over in ten minutes and behind us. As the freeway opened up to fluid traffic and the harmony of car sounds, I felt, rather than saw, the city dim around me and cleave to the star spangled sky. Amazing, amazing. Still high from the comedy show rush of exhilaration, I thought of the evening and what we’d done, what we’d seen. Moments of highs and lows, the emotional arc of discovering downtown los angeles. And I thought to myself: not bad. Not bad at all.

x
Jem

#2065| im a slave 4 u

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It was our favourite little monster’s fifth birthday last weekend, not that she cared. As evinced from her facial expression. I can’t believe i’ve been a slave to her moods and cravings for the last five years. Did you know, cats can knock on doors? This one time my sisters and I were home alone, chilling in our bedroom, and we heard this incredibly human like knock on the door. Rap-tat-tat-tat-tat. There was no one else home; our parents were out dating or something, I don’t know. We stared at each other slowly. What the actual – ?

After a lot of egging, I was nominated as tribute (sacrifice) to be the one to open the door and face whatever intruder was out there, vengeful ghost or murderous burglar. Jeez. The door was opened, the hallway was empty. I looked down. Something brushed against my ankle and I jumped. When I turned, Athena had taken over my spot on the bed, and was currently stretching out happily. That cat has the worst case of FOMO, did I mention? She can’t stand it if people are congregating behind closed doors. She needs to be in on the action, is what I’m saying.

We couldn’t for the life of us figure out how she managed to knock on our door until one evening we watched her trail my mother to her bedroom, where my mum promptly shut the door on her face (they have boundary issues, its an ongoing debate). Following which she turned her ass to the door, leaned on her front two legs, and kicked the hell out of that door with her hind paw. Rap-tat-tat-tat-tat.

It was genius. Actually genius. For months i’d been checking with my cat owner friends about the knocking, but no one else had a cat who knocked. Athena must have invented her own way of knocking, the way she learnt to sit on my chest and extend just one claw to pull the edge of my sleeping mouth open when she wanted food at 445am in the morning. We were conflicted about this new development. Is it better to have a dumb cute cat who’s also affectionate, or a snobby cat who spends all day sleeping and puts her ultra-intelligence to use only to intrude on your personal boundaries? It’s hard to say.

Either way, what stands is that life is a perpetual equal parts joyride and equal parts annoying af with her around. Happy birthday, you twit.

x
Jem