Pantry Talk

I do not recommend sad office lunches. When I started working in Malaysia, I was guilty of this. Very guilty. I brought food from home. I heated them up in our office microwave. And then I ate them. In front of my computer. Alone.

You could probably say I was a loner of sorts. Plus, we didn't have a decent pantry back then, not one with tables and chairs to dine in. So, sad office lunches were always the way to go.

Until I made office friends. Hurray for office friends! Happy is the person who finds fun lunchmates who converse about anything from deep political things to disgusting and often useless information. Happier is the person who finds confidantes among that clique, people with whom one can share deep, personal stuff without fear of anything getting out.

We were talking about seasons the other day. Imagine the lunch table: two women from Botswana, one from Lesotho, one Malaysian Chinese, and one Filipina.

"I hate, hate, hate winter! Winter is the absolute worst!"

"You would not want to go to Africa in the winter!"

I have always been fascinated by the cold, but from the women's descriptions of the season which came to Africa by June, I became increasingly thankful of South East Asia's warm, tropical weather.

"But summer is even worse! You can feel the heat in your head!" The girls grew more animated with each new complaint. I laughed and listened. Sometimes I simply liked to sit back and observe how pantry conversations would unfold. I would jump in from time to time. But it was fun just learning from the lives of my officemates, fun just watching them interact with one another.

* * *

"Someone stole my windshield wiper the other day." 

The times I jumped into conversations were mostly times I got to talk with somebody one on one. Words came easier with kindred spirits, with a closer knit circle of friends. I'm glad for those kindred spirits. They are the ones you could steal a few minutes away from the office with to buy a Chatime milk tea or a Starbucks latte, the ones who'd stand beside you as you oggle at a window of Ben and Jerry's selections until eternity is through. The truth is, the office can be a lonely place to be without those people.

So the next time you go out for lunch, find a kindred spirit. Or jump straight into a crazy pantry conversation. You'll appreciate those so much more than a sad office lunch.

Take it from me, a former S-O-L lady.

Best eaten with  friends.

A Cubicle Warrior

I never thought I would be a cubicle warrior. Someone who sits in front of a computer eight to nine hours a day, changing the world one website at a time. When I finally put my mind into a career path, I mostly saw myself as an educator, changing the world one lab assignment at a time.

I graduated from my MIT in 2011. That ended "The Adventure - Part 1" and ushered in "The Adventure - Part 2". With that additional level of educational attainment, I knew I had an added edge if I decided to apply for a teaching position somewhere.

But how to teach something I have never experienced fully and only through books or theoretically? I decided to gain some experience in the field first so that my lessons would not be limited to journals and research.

And so here I am. Straining my eyes in front of the computer, getting constant back pain day by day. I kind of miss having the compulsive need to drink ginger to ease the vocal stress caused by shouting into a large lecture hall. Now, my saliva would dry up if I merely sat in front of my desk all day, if I neglected to socialize with my workmates.

Some days I wonder why I'm doing this. I'd love to say I'm one of those people who get a high when they breathe in jQuery, PHP, CSS, and HTML code. But unfortunately, I'm not. I'm skilled at what I'm doing. I make it a point that I finish my work well and leave a mark of excellence whenever I can. But to wake up and say "I was made for this!" - pass me a hot cup of coffee, please. I'll give an answer once I'm done with my daily dose of joe.

I believe I have a greater passion for teaching, as I have with writing. But then there are some things that you just can't jump into, not if you want to do it well. There are seasons to wait, seasons to learn, seasons to wander around in the wilderness. When we pass through these, we can then flourish in the promise of the promised land.

I still have a lot to learn. I still have a lot to give in this stage of my journey. Konting push pa.

In the meantime, I shall do my best to bloom where I am planted.

A selfie during one of my first few days of work. Ages ago.