50 cups of coffee can’t be wrong?!

Y’know, I never used to like coffee.

Yeah, yeah, sacrilege, whatever.

I think the first time I tasted it was when I took a sip of whatever my dad was drinking at my grandmother’s house in Malaysia. It was probably Kopi-O or something like that. Regardless, it was too bitter for this little Aussie girl’s palate.

Aside from coffee cake and various coffee flavoured things that were more sugar than coffee, I don’t think I had coffee again for over 10 years.

I started drinking it a bit when I was pulling all-nighters to finish assignments. Which I don’t encourage, of course, but it’d be hypocritical of me to tell you not to do it.

When I started working at my current job, I was mostly opting for a hot chocolate and the occasional mocha. Post-lockdown, the balance tipped towards the mocha and now the barista no longer needs to ask me what I want.

I mean, it’s basically the best of both worlds (espresso and chocolate). Can’t overdo it though – too much caffeine is bad for my anxiety and gives me heart palpitations. πŸ˜›

But I feel vaguely incomplete if I don’t have one in the morning. Kinda like when I want to read on the train and realise at the station that I’ve left my book or eReader at home.

(I did just google “caffeine addiction” and I don’t get the listed withdrawal symptoms that came up if I don’t have a morning coffee, so I think we’re good for now.)

I’ve seen some writers define themselves as creatures who turn coffee into words. Some replace “coffee” with “tea”, but it’s rare to find a writer/author who drinks neither. I’m partial to both at different times of the day.

HonorΓ© de Balzac allegedly drank 50 cups of coffee a day and was crazy prolific in his lifetime. That lifetime was only 51 years but the average life expectancy in 19th century France (or 19th century anywhere) wasn’t terribly high. But the rumoured Balzac method sounds like an excellent way to break your toilet and die of a caffeine overdose. Do not recommend.

Besides, I can honestly say I haven’t noticed any difference to my writing output or quality from caffeine. It might help me feel more equipped to deal with certain social or professional situations, but I don’t think it’s made me a better (or worse) writer. Your mileage may vary. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, if you’re looking for some reading material over your next coffee/tea break, there’s a teeny mention of me in Books+Publishing’s recent Hybrid publishing in Australia article — and a fair bit about Book Reality and Leschenault Press, i.e. the publisher of Black and Blue. Definitely worth a read if you’re a writer who’s interested in going indie. And I’m happy to chat to anyone about my own experiences. πŸ™‚

On the road again

I was a bit quiet beforehand because I didn’t want to jinx it, but earlier this month I travelled out of WA for the first time in two-and-a-half years and returned without incident. πŸ˜€

I got to catch up with family and friends in Sydney and despite it raining most of the time I was there, it was great.

Oh, and my hotel came with a lightsaber! Okay, it was a torch/flashlight, but everything vaguely cylindrical is a lightsaber if you put your mind to it. Here’s a demo — I’m not very active on TikTok, so this will probably remain my most viewed TikTok video for the foreseeable future. πŸ˜›

@leeannkhoh

Found a torch/flashlight/lightsaber in my hotel room… πŸ”¦πŸ˜„ #StarWars #StarWarsFan #GeekingOut #Lightsaber #Jedi #Nerdtok

♬ original sound – Lee-Ann Khoh
Video “when you find a torch in your hotel room…” shows Lee-Ann taking a torch mounted in the closet of her room. She swings it around in both hands, making lightsaber noises under her breath before returning it to its original position and laughing.

I’m pretty anxious at the best of times and was nervous before I left, but surprisingly, I wasn’t really stressed during the trip. Between booking it and actually going, most travel restrictions were lifted so I guess I didn’t have to worry about accidentally doing something wrong.

I also wore a mask wherever I went, even though I didn’t have to. The Airinum Lite Air masks I opted for in Sydney are definitely on the pricier side, but my glasses didn’t fog up once while I was away, so that’s always a plus. And Airinum recently sent me a referral link, so you can use it if you want to check them out: Get 25% off Airinum masks

But the point of this post wasn’t to advertise masks. It was to muse about how I’ve dipped my toe back in the travel waters and… it went well! I came, I saw, I didn’t get COVID (yet). My passport expired during the pandemic and I’m not planning any around-the-world vacations at this point in time. But interstate trips might be on the cards again.

Truth be told, I actually hate travelling (the getting there part, yuck)… but I do like having travelled. πŸ™‚

Unplugged-ish

No, it’s not the latest Kenya Barris show. (Although I recently discovered Black-ish, Mixed-ish, and Grown-ish on Disney+ and I’m really digging them.)

It’s about my complicated relationship with social media and what I’m trying to do about it.

On one hand, social media was how I interacted and connected with people in the absence of… well, properly developed social skills.

It’s also how I dipped my toe into the professional world — my first job after graduating was at a social media agency and I definitely learnt lessons there that I’ve taken with me throughout my career.

But it’s a massive time-suck. An easy way to mindlessly procrastinate. And an easy way to worsen one’s mental health.

I’ve alluded to my history of anxiety and depression here before, and plenty of social media platforms are not so great for that. Or they’re great for a while and then they’re reeeally not.

Recently, I decided to change the way I use Facebook. I culled my friends list down to family and what I’m calling my “close contacts” (a bit of COVID-inspired vernacular). I also unfollowed some pages that seem to disproportionately attract… a certain type of commenter.

And then I thought, screw all this crap — and uninstalled the Facebook app from my phone. It’s only been a few days but I feel better already.

A couple of days later, I decided to uninstall Twitter too.

It’s not a proper social media detox. It’s not even a Meta detox because I’ve still got a bunch of their other apps, including Instagram, which is still fun for me.

I also haven’t deactivated my accounts so I can always log in on a browser. I just figure there’s no reason why I need them at my fingertips constantly. Even if I find myself in a situation where live-tweeting might actually be beneficial/interesting to the world, I probably wouldn’t do it anyway.

So to cut a long story short, I deleted the Facebook and Twitter apps and I think it’ll be a positive move. Now to replace the mindless doomscrolling habit with something productive… like that second book maybe…

My interview with AllAuthor

If you’ve seen my sweet book mockups on social media, like this…

Mockup of Black and Blue by Lee-Ann Khoh displayed on the side of a bus shelter. A person sits on a bench looking out towards the street.

…then you can thank AllAuthor for those. πŸ™‚

Anyway, my recent interview with Mady Joshi at AllAuthor has now been published and you can check it out below:

Lee-Ann Khoh latest interview by AllAuthor Author of Black and Blue, Lee-Ann Khoh grew up in Perth, Western Australia. She used to spend entire weekends just reading books when she was growing up. She studied journalism before deciding to write her own stories. She has also written a story titled β€œAiden’s Flowers” in the collection, Flash Fiction Magazine – Issue 1. She is a sucker for beautiful bookish things. Read full interview…

Edited to add: Apparently the first thing I said in this interview is wrong. It’s one of those things you get taught when you grow up in Perth, much like “Black swans are only found in WA” which I’ve since discovered is untrue. πŸ˜„

Good thing I write fiction and not geography books!

Stuck in a rut

I’m in a bit of a rut.

Not a “depressed” rut (been there). I’m actually pretty good.

My job fulfils me. My family is great. My circle of friends is small but meaningful and that’s how I like it. And NCIS, a show I’ve grown up with and is basically a family friend at this point, just got renewed for Season 20.

In short, I’m happy.

It’s more of a “why aren’t I achieving more with my life?” rut. A “someday I’ll be old and I want to be better than I am today” rut.

I’m often tired.

I’m not reading anywhere near as much as I want to or should. (Related to the tiredness thing.)

I feel like I’m not making progress on Book #2.

Sometimes I think it’d be cool to take up [insert hobby here] but then I don’t get started or follow through.

Or I think about how I wanted to be a cartoonist with a syndicated comic strip when I was a kid and wonder why I stopped drawing altogether.

Rut-a-tut-tut.

I’m sure I’ll get unstuck but right now, I’m just typing it out.

And maybe taking a nap.

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