Good things

 

There’s a lot of pretty average things going on in the world at the moment, to say the least. Mass shootings, terrorist attacks, wars and bombings. It takes a lot of stomach to read the news without wanting to rest your head on the kitchen table and sob. Adding to that, we’ve reached the back paddock of the year. We can see the end, we can see holidays, but we’ve still got a field’s worth of shit to wade through before we get out.

In an effort to circumvent all of this unpleasantness, I’ve been thinking about the little things that are good. Not in a cheesey “a child’s smile” kind of way, but just those every day, mundane things that make life just a little bit brighter. I am, of course, extremely wary of coming across as one of those Instagram positivity banshees who post pictures of sunsets or the ocean with a vague quote plastered over the top of it.

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I think it’s time to aim for a middle point between the reality of this messed up world and the proliferation of overly filtered portrayals of how great everything is. We need to tone down the Everything is Awesome!/#blessed/#soblessed/500 days of gratitude and tune out some of the barrage of terrible news we’re faced with every day. That’s not to say it isn’t important to be informed and engaged with the issues facing us as a society. It is. Now more than ever. But I think there’s scope for a little corner of our minds, or in my case the internet, for appreciating the everyday things in all their mundane excellence.

So here it is, my three average things that are absolutely nothing special. They don’t make me #soblessed or #grateful enough to post about on Instagram, but they are also not highly contagious diseases with high mortality rates or radical militant movements. They’re just good things. And sometimes that’s enough.

So here we go:

3: Singaporean carrot cake

You’re not really a carrot cake! Where’s the cream cheese icing? Where’s the walnuts? You’re not even sweet! Is there even any carrot in you? You are more like an omelette than anything else. Cake? Pfft. No, you’re a savoury, sneaky bastard but dammit, I love you.

2: Cats.

Shocker, I know. It seems like every day I creep a little bit closer to crazy cat lady territory. I’m embracing it though. I am unashamedly grateful for cats. For my own cat who has a huge attitude problem and is responsible for the cat hair tumbleweeds bouncing down the hall. I am also thankful for our community cat, affectionately known as Catniss Neverclean. She is always so happy to see me and runs down the street to say hello. She is, however, only available between the hours of 6am-9am and 4pm-8pm, otherwise it’s too hot. Even though I’ve stopped carrying cat food in my handbag, much to the relief of FS, Catniss doesn’t hold it against me and is always up for a pat.

1: Binge-watching TV series

Gone are the days of waiting a whole week for the next episode of a great TV show. What a time to be alive. I’m currently working my way through The Office, the American version, and it is pretty excellent. Being able to watch a full season of a TV show in one sitting is an absolute privilege for which I am so very #grateful.

They’re not much, only tiny stupid things, but watching my cat chase a tuft of her own fur and ordering a cheap plate of delicious hawker food are all it takes to put me in a good mood. And that’s all I need.

 

Community cats: best thing ever.

Yet another excellent thing about Singapore is the phenomenon of community cats. Ahh, community cats. Australia truly is a backwards society, you know.

As a cat enthusiast (we don’t like the term ‘cat lady’), I have been known to bestow love on needy albeit flea-bitten street cats. Ugly cats need love too. Despite the risk of rabies and parasites, I have chased cats all over the world: from the alley ways of Ho Chi Minh City to the streets of Cape Town. Here is no different but most street cats tend to be friendly and well-fed here. How can this be, I wondered. Does Singapore have some kind of advanced cat welfare system? Meow for the dole? The answer came on a trip to Tanah Merah. After meeting a delightful street cat, I noticed a sign explaining that dogs were banned from the area because one had attacked one of their beloved community cats. Community cats. The answer.

The vast majority of people here live in high density housing, huge blocks of thousands of apartments, it makes sense to have communal pets. I was impressed: damn Singapore, you think of everything! But the true potential of the community cat wasn’t revealed to me until I turned into my street at the end of a sweaty run. A lady was empty a tin of cat food onto the footpath much to the delight of two hungry kitties. This probably sounds unhygienic but, trust me, the cats are clean eaters and gobble up every speck. There’s never any fishy surprises underfoot when you walk to the train. Such potential though! We have community cats in our street! A different evening revealed the full extent of our community cats. Walking home from dinner, we found a lady dishing up cat food to a horde of cats and kittens. At least 10 or 15. She was a bigwig in the community cat community apparently. It was amazing. I felt like this:

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So I’ve been wondering how to break in to the community cat racket. Is it as simple as buying some extra cat food and dumping it on the footpath? Or do you need to amass some followers first? Should I poach those followers from the bigwig cat boss or is that leaving me open to retribution? Will I wake with a severed mouse head on the pillow next to me? You can understand my conundrum. So for now, I’m restricted to my one private cat plus one loyal street cat affectionately known as The Cat. The Cat is barely older than a kitten and lives between our apartment and the train. We see her when it’s cool, usually in the late afternoon. She has taken to ignoring other suitors to trot over and say hello to me. It isn’t much, but it could be the start of something. A community cat colony the likes of which have never been seen before. Excuse me, I’m off to force Tippy to sit on my lap so I can pet her evil villain-style.

Moving in

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I write this from my couch. Not the couch I’m sitting in at a hotel or an airport or my parents house. My couch. It’s brown and a bit saggy, it’s got a few stains – beer and hydrolyte are two that are immediately identifiable. But it is by far the most comfortable couch in the world. All other couches should kneel at the feet of this majestic specimen. But this isn’t about my couch. It’s more about the fact that my couch is now sitting in my new apartment in Singapore.

Our stuff has arrived and is in the process of being unpacked. It’s very strange to look around and see our wooden giraffes from South Africa, our kava bowl from Fiji and our groaning bookcase from Ikea. Looking to the right though, you’re reminded where you are: you’re sitting about 5 metres away from your neighbour’s lounge room, just across the courtyard. Their maid is hanging washing on their balcony, it’s so close you can say hello to her without raising your voice. You can hear the Chinese family next door either having a heated domestic or a loud conversation, it’s difficult to tell. This is high density living, in Singapore.

My cat embodies the feeling the best: she’s spent the last six hours sprinting from one room to the other with her ears back. She looks manic but then suddenly comes to a stop to jump up and sit on her blanket on the couch, or bite my toes while I’m trying to sleep. It feels as though we’ve been manically rushing around, house hunting, moving and generally getting settled, with a few brief pauses to do normal things like cook dinner and watch TV. Now it’s time for everything to slow down and for us to get on with living, really living, here in Singapore. Home sweet home.

Note: At the time of posting, it has all become too much for Tippy the cat. She is currently wedged behind a wardrobe. She might be stuck.