235: remember 2007

And so — how has it all changed?

This year things are very different. For one, I’m now typing in caps. I don’t know why, maybe I think it looks nicer, but actually I just wanted to do it for that particular post, but now I’m stuck doing it because I like uniformity (gasp) and I can’t stand it if the post is anomalous, not anymore. Which is also why I’m in the process of changing all my ITunes song info into capital letters, after I spent nearly three days changing everything to small letters when I first got ITunes, back in 2004. Maybe it marks a transition; who knows.

Being in university changes things. For one, I no longer really see January as the start of a new year, since I’m still in the middle of a school year, with the promise of a second semester, a second chance, looming in the horizon. It makes things that happened this January so far away, back in my first year of university, though still part of 2007. And it started with nearly getting bombed in Bangkok, spending our New Year’s Eve in a hostel room huddled together, playing drunken games with lots of beer, because that was the only thing we could do. In that time, how much I really felt as if I grew up was a mystery, and it has yet to be solved.

There were lots of holidays; a lot of travelling, and breaks. From Bangkok with my friends to spending a night in a chalet all by myself, Malacca, to visiting Bangkok with my mum when my dad first relocated (with all the promise, yet again, of strengthening old relationships, putting water under the bridge, etc), to Hong Kong, that wonderful place I will always love. During summer holidays, I went out unafraid into the sun for the first time, in a long time, without getting burnt, or any side effects that come with usually being in the sun. For those who have never had this problem, you cannot imagine how liberating it was, or how frustrating it must have been, all those years when I was never allowed to do anything for prolonged periods under the sun (effectively putting an end to whatever burgeoning sports career I had). The beach was there, and so was the sun. With the sun, came the food writing, and somehow I spent all those suntanning days reading about food; Anthony Bourdain, Jeffrey Steingarten, Ruth Reichl. Dealing with Law Camp in between. Crashing my car on the way to Ian’s house. And then, the drunken parties, the heart-to-heart talks, seeing how social dynamics changed from semester to semester, and all the histrionics that the aftermath of being in clubs brings. Seeing relationships get ruined, slowly but surely, with all the force of an oncoming train but being powerless to stop it, too much alcohol, a wayward hand, and strangely enough, struggles for power. When you think you can do anything, you really will.

Then there was the most difficult part; dealing with the aftermath of last year. When you think it is all over, it starts again. There was summer, when everyone came back, and there was MAF. Where I renewed old friendships and was glad for them, knowing nothing could replace them, and yet, feeling so far away. With each year comes the renewed feelings of clutching at straws. But no, some things are only as big as what you make of it, and I will take it as it comes, drunken spontaneous forays into Zouk after drinking like delinquents outside Cineleisure, and all.

This was the year I bared the most of myself, and had the most heartfelt conversations with people. Some regarding love, or life, relationships, family. There was lots of alcohol involved, or I would not have said anything most of the time. Circles of trust, in the dead of night with a dozen shots down, smiling drunkenly at each other. I wonder now if I really knew the impact of what I was saying, but no matter now. And a random day of skipping school, going to Far East, just hanging out and talking. We were supposed to have lunch, but we ended up talking for three hours. I was scared, most of the time: of disappointing myself, loved ones, hearing doors close, phones slammed, messages deleted. Communication being cut off. Things that didn’t appear to matter suddenly did, and became bigger than they were. When family to me was still a belated, distant concept. Maybe it still is now. Maybe my feelings are an intellectual construct. Who knows? And I thought to myself, maybe things would change, but they didn’t. Was it regret? Nobody knows. But I think not. Somehow this year I found out, and perhaps admitted to myself, what I knew all along, which is that people don’t change, or change irrevocably.

Am I too old to dwell on my pain? Maybe, and maybe I need to get over myself, or anything that stands in my way. We always have these conversations about people without realizing they are equally applicable to ourselves. Strangely enough, the best thing that may have happened to me was probably getting banned from Bogglific, without which I would have wasted my entire life away. And those days were dark. In April I huddled in classrooms, shivering from the cold on weekdays and sweating like a pig on Sundays, when the aircon was off. Waking up obscenely early, and going home at obscene times. Killing myself over moots with Patrick, determined that I should do a good job, practising again and again in front of people, getting shot down by questions again and again in front of a full classroom, going up in court, delivering my argument. I was damn bloody scared, but who wasn’t? Then, in second year, all those trial/advocacy tutorials, which we never put in effort for, till the last minute, where I decided that even if it wasn’t really graded, I would do this properly. In November, I left school at 4am on a regular basis, going home only to bathe and change, then come back, and start again. Getting intimately acquainted with the numerous delivery services across the island, bringing our own exam wellness pack, staying in the study room where the same old same old people came in everyday, sending each other nostalgic Chinese songs from our childhood and beyond. I went to Starbucks almost every other day, having some version of coffee or another. While I listened to Wu Bai on repeat I looked through mortgages again and again, trying to remember the rights of a mortgagee, arguing with others over the duties of a director, and what happens with a legal or equitable lease, making stupid and utterly lame lawyer jokes. Chomping on wasabi peas to keep me awake, constantly hounding the co-op auntie to bring new stocks in. Sitting outside on the canteen chairs way after closing, so that mine was the only chair left outside when the night ended. Seeing the number of cars along the front of the school dwindle to just mine, and whoever was in the study room. Honestly, I have never taken so much pride in my work.

And then, after all of it, I must let it go. All those notes, thrown in some random corner, while DVDs and Japanese dramas and random history books take centrestage. Then I went to Starbucks again and again, this time doing nothing but lazing around, reading and having a coffee, just like I dreamed of during the exams. And I took pleasure in the rain, the cool weather, pretended it was winter and it was freezing, though January is coming and it is no longer all rain and clouds. Tonight I saw the most stars in a year, and I thought of the time I was 15 in OBS looking at Orion’s Belt on Pulau Ubin, and that black, black sky in Mongolia where I stared up with no lights on for miles and miles, my legs up in the air. It reminded me of Christmas Day, with familiar and comforting rituals, which I know are about to end, because now all the boys will be going overseas, and nobody will come back anymore. Then I remembered that overwhelming disturbance I felt that day, whether it was due to family or new information or not, I will never know. As I drove home that night at 4am, it felt a little melancholy. It seems every Christmas there is some little saga, some revelation, and whether for better or for worse, at least some things remain constant.

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I felt as if I should mention you, but I didn’t know where to put it. But you are everywhere, so maybe there is no need after all.

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231: why?

I’ve submitted it.

So now I am officially known to my mother as the world’s most spoilt child.

Everything comes back to the same thing. Must it come down to this before we realise how screwed up it all is?

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I just had the most random thought.

The person that your brother marries is your sister-in-law. But now they are engaged, and they are not yet registered at the Registry of Marriages. Does that make your brother’s fiancee your sister in equity?

An equitable sister! HAHA

230: your life is your life

Hmm. My current obsession — one that may last very long — shift dresses. Even though I’ve gained a fair bit of weight over the past year (woe) so that now my body is no longer what it used to look like, I have decided that even then, shift dresses can be flattering on not-flat-chested people.

Is it strange to mourn the loss of your flat(ter) chest? I always thought having bigger boobs looked sort of vulgar, for some reason. And I like the adolescence and androgyny that being flat-chested confers. (This was probably not appropriate public conversation, but who cares) In the meantime while I’m trying to lose weight, let’s make the best of it!

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Went on a pretend-holiday with my mum yesterday. Booked a room at a hotel for a night, and lived utterly decadently. We had lunch at Pontini yesterday before checking in, and after dumping our stuff headed to town and went shopping. In lieu of no holiday, my mum gave me money to spend. Which was a good deal (: We bumbled around, looked at wildly expensive things, my mother dreaming about the day when she could stop buying me things and I’d buy them for her (haha), drinking bubble tea and being totally random. And when we got back, we stopped by 7/11 like we would in any other country for drinks before going up to the hotel. Then my mum decided that since the tea and coffee were complimentary, she’d drink them like a typical Singaporean (her words, not mine), and she couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night.

Some bad movie about Chinese Americans was playing on Star Movies, while I read half a history book. I think there is something very fascinating about the French Revolution, even though the French still really annoy me sometimes, which is why unknowingly I suddenly have about 5 books on the subject, excluding that hugeass Oxford History of the French Revolution I bought in JC (Sad that I only read it properly after I finished my A-Levels; before that I just read the concluding chapter and winged it haha).

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After I checked out this afternoon, the bf came over and we went to Haji Lane. I picked up a shift dress which I’m intending to wear for my family’s Christmas party (part Yay and part Awkward, for reasons exclusive to the recent past), and a vintage kimono, which I’m intending to dry clean then send to a tailor to convert into a dress. I feel sort of sad chopping off almost half the length of it, because I love the detail at the hem, but there are two little holes at the bottom (which was why it was cheaper) so I’ll find something for it. Maybe the obi.

The shopkeeper showed me all the old family kimono, the black formal ones with family crests at the chest and intricate embroidery at the bottom. They were beautiful, and old, and I would have liked to buy them, but they didn’t suit my purpose (and they were expensive). And it would be sacrilegious to hack an old family kimono to turn it into a fashion item. Some of them were really lovely, especially those for a young woman’s 20th birthday, a formal celebratory occasion in Japan. I’ve got my eye set on one — I’ll see how the tailoring goes with this one, first.

It might even be ready to wear for Chinese New Year! (:

I like all these random DIY projects.

So, um, any recommendations for a good tailor (not just one who does alterations)?

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I haven’t filled in my exchange application form yet!!! There are 2 more days. Argh.

229: lovers’ chatter is as dust

I’m having a headache. I’ve been having a headache on and off for the past week, and I don’t know why. This is all so strange. I feel like a mysterious and fatal disease is quietly descending on me. Hur.

This week —

We went to the National Museum on Friday, and I hadn’t been there since the last primary school field trip, and to Timbre for dinner after, because we happened to park there. It’s changed a lot, and I liked it. There are a couple of pretty cool exhibitions there, including one on New Buildings (modernist architecture) and Greek sculptures from the Louvre. Now they make me want to go to France, not for the first time.

We watched Two Days In Paris on Monday night, and it was wonderful. I hadn’t watched a movie that uplifted me in so long (I’m sure you will agree that of the many things that Lust, Caution is, uplifting is not one of them), given there was never a single down moment or a lapse in concentration. Like every movie with Julie Delpy, the conversation just keeps going, even though sometimes that’s all there is keeping it up. I love it. I love how a movie can be made so completely out of words, and though the surrounding is important in providing a context for these words to fall in, it’s still part of a supporting role. Each character, whether mimicking life or art (Julie Delpy’s real-life parents are her movie parents as well), has their own backstory and past, the glimpses of which are shown solely through conversation, evoking a picture just as vivid as a visual flashback.

I love her. And the part about the balloons and where Adam Goldberg smiles goofily like a squirrel. Daniel Bruhl (Goodbye Lenin fame, another movie I love) was totally random.

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So the second week of my vacation has passed, with three more weeks left to go. In another week, it’ll be Christmas, and then the New Year. It feels strange not going away this holiday, but I’ll live. I’ve been spending my time redecorating my room, unearthing old photos and sticking them on my wall, fixing random things like the TV wiring and getting a tape unstuck from the VCR (antique device that it is), going out with the bf and my mother and grandmother, watching Japanese dramas.

More on Japanese dramas. I like them a lot, not solely because the cast is attractive, but because they deal with interesting issues (not like Taiwanese ones, which are either idol dramas or about scheming heirs to a family fortune plotting to take over the company), like Kimi wa Petto, which deals with the highly improbable situation of a young OL keeping a teenage boy as a pet after she finds himself abandoned in a box outside her house. Or Kindaichi — which though predictable after 2 seasons — continually amazes me with ingenious ways to solve crime. In addition to that, they come in manageable 9-11 episodes, not requiring you to follow the slow unfolding of a very complicated plot (like in Hong Kong) over something like 30 episodes. And unlike Korean dramas, nobody gets a fatal disease and dies at the end (most of the time).

My boyfriend is probably sick of me talking about them, since I talk about a different one every week.

In other words, I’m doing nothing very productive. But lovely enough, for the days to come, where 18-hour days come to haunt me again.

227: leave you like you left me here, to wither in denial

So — I don’t know whether to believe you. I don’t know if it matters whether I believe you. It feels strange that after so long, you’re still trying to be someone else, fit into somebody’s conception of you. Creating new identities, a new backstory. A new past to tell your future, since nobody knows.

A year back you told me something else. Everyone has something to hide, but you keep creating lies for yourself. Maybe you didn’t trust me enough, but who knows? My head is having a hard time wrapping itself round this — thing.

Who knows, indeed? I see how it is now.
I was right, in the end.

226: i need some intelligentactile 101

When I first thought about the holidays coming I thought of all sorts of things to do. But it never fails to surprise me how much I’ve missed and failed to take in while I was holed up in school.

Today I went out alone again. I wasn’t intending to, since I was supposed to meet someone, but my phone (un?)fortuituously went dead and I decided to spend my Saturday alone after lunch. Sometimes I feel sad that he’s not here, but most of the time I quite enjoy it. It reminds me of what I used to do when I was single, and had all the time in the world to myself, without thinking about rushing off to meet the bf whenever. It’s not a bad thing — being attached — alot of the time I wanted to run away and go meet him, but there’s something. About solitude.

I’ve always liked big cities. My cousin-in-law asked me which city in Europe was my favourite, and not having been to many, I said London. I wasn’t lying, since I was prepared to spend 3 years there anyway. And I said, yes, the bigger and more crowded, the better. (Only after I said it did I realise the contradiction, because I’d just professed my hatred of Zoukout merely 10 minutes earlier because it was too crowded and squeezy — and drunk) My cousin said bodies pressing against each other are not her thing, and I thought back to the MTR in Hong Kong during peak hour.

I remembered I hated it, but I was glad to finally have a chance to push someone without getting my head bitten off, since no one would know who it was anyway. There was that freedom, that anonymity, to do things you ordinarily would never get away with, to lose yourself in a big city. Of course I’m talking about more than just pushing random commuters around in a train. But you understand.

So — I read No Reservations in Kino today, after buying a pair of shoes and reading half a Christmas story (like Good Omens, only worse, so I stopped) in Borders. And yet another trashy romance novel. In what seems to be the greatest irony ever, I read the first romance (few days ago) in the corner of the Parenting section, which looked like a fairly promising place to read, but turned out to be full of random people. Who are younger than I am and not supposed to be old enough to need advice on parenting. (No comment.) Then I read the second one in the Children’s section in Kino — after No Reservations — on a bench, where I happened to find a seat, although I had to share it with an overly excited expecting couple who were cooing over baby names from a book.

Parenting and Children. Are my maternal instincts subconsciously taking over?

The woman was cooing, anyway, while her husband continually objected to every single name she picked out till she got fed up. Maybe it was the bad pronunciation. Imagine if the Registrar of Births got your name wrong because your mother couldn’t pronounce your name. Worse still, she’d be able to spell it correctly. And the Registrar will try valiantly not to laugh.

“Bree?

“Eee like cheese like that.

“Britchet!

“Dowan! Sounds like Bridge.

“I know I know! Clo!

“You mean like Chloe?

“Yeah! Clo!

“No dear, it’s Chloe.”

At this point I felt a family disaster crawl slowly but surely towards the backs of the unsuspecting couple. Luckily they left, so I could stop eavesdropping on other people and concentrate on my own book. But really. Clo?

Well. There were other things I noticed, like the inordinate amount of people snapping pictures with the Takashimaya Christmas tree. And a girl I saw walking down Wisma wearing a sports top and shorts with a Deuter backpack and really high wedges. Dressy wedges. Really high dressy wedges with jingly-jangly things hanging off the straps. Wish I’d taken a picture.

City life. Great innit?

224: distance has no way of making love understandable

Today I sat alone in Borders reading a trashy romance novel for 3 hours. Then I went to Starbucks, walking through the puddles with an umbrella being blown against the wind. It was a very strong wind.

Looking outside, it actually feels as if winter is approaching. Or is already here. The bells are ringing, from a place I cannot see.

It is the headlights; the lights of the oncoming cars hurling themselves the glass door, as fragile as the snowflakes painted on them, if they were real. The outside gets dark quickly, even though it is not yet 7pm. All these things and more, remind you that in times of good cheer and tidings, there is usually the most loneliness to be found.

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222: 不敢在午夜问路 怕触动了伤心的魂

okay. so i lost an ebay bid for a really nice dress by a pound. never mind. there will always be more things to buy. :(

was at starbucks earlier this morning to have breakfast, before my last burst of energy for company law tomorrow. you know – i wanted to say something – but there is no better, more beautiful way to say it than like it is. because that’s how it is. so – i saw a caucasian family walk in, except the mother was distinctly not caucasian. ordinarily that wouldn’t be unusual, except that she looked really young, the kids were like ten, and were nowhere eurasian. and then i thought, do they think this person is daddy’s friend from overseas, or do they really think of this person as mummy? and what would ‘daddy’s friend’ be doing with them bright and early at 7.30am (yah don’t ask) on a sunday morning (don’t ask again)?

this is where my bf steps in and gives me the very loaded, “i see.” – and he does see – but i don’t, most of the time. ordinarily, who cares? both my cousins married caucasians but they’re not SPGs (or whatever their modern equivalent is). but that thought – that thought about this girl and the kids was so weird.

anyway, the more i think about it, there is less than 48 hours to the end of the exams. for better or for worse, it’s going to be @%(&*$(%#-ing OVER!