481: think

And… never mind. I’ve decided I don’t really want to know. It’s strange to be caught in this limbo of half-knowledge and half-wants. The world would be a better place if I stored up all my knowledge and kept it in a jar somewhere, and if I curbed this endless desire, this endless curiosity, this endless need to know more and furnish my imagination with the confirmation that only real life knowledge can give.

I want to know things so I don’t imagine them. My mind is too capable of making up stories and worlds that don’t exist. Imagination leads us down rabbit holes from which we will never surface.

 

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478: Remember 2015

I didn’t write one for the previous year; I’m not sure why. It might have been because I was too caught up in the whirlwind of the beginning of the year, having convinced myself that I was too happy and had so many other, better, things to do; unknowingly, the first week of the year slipped by and writing about the year that just passed seemed less and less relevant.

Strange because so much has happened in these two years. So much has changed. I began the first day of 2015 uncharacteristically not hungover from the festivities the night before (although what I actually did, I can’t for the life of me remember anymore), waking up at the ungodly time of 6am to rush to my cousin’s house to prepare for his wedding, and then the hubbub of the whole affair died down to just a few family members, dozing by the armchairs of the outdoor bar in Capella, talking about our lives over drinks and tea. It was a sunny day; the weather was great.

Chinese New Year came. The predictions for the year promised great things. I spent the months mostly being optimistic and bored, a fact made more glaringly obvious by the fact that I can’t remember what I did at work (besides drink) nor outside work (besides drink). Life was peaceful and painless, and uncharacteristically quiet. I was alone for the first time in ages suddenly, and strangely enough I didn’t know what to do with myself. And then: I turned 28. There were too many questions. What should I be doing with my life? What am I doing with my life? Do I really want to be here? Is life too easy? Am I going mad? I read more books in the first 6 months of 2015 than I have in the past five years, which just shows what life in practice does to you. I’m not really sure why I jumped back in again — but I did, and now I’m back to stealing moments from work to read a book whenever I can. I talked about it to everybody and anybody who would listen, trying to find someone who could explain to me why I felt this strange disquiet in my head. But I savoured the fact that I had a Blackberry but never needed to check it, ever; I read my emails at the end of the week and nobody would say anything. I abandoned my Blackberry and the thought of endless blinking red lights and the multitude of horrors that it implied, not so secretly laughed at those who were still chained to their jobs, and went out to explore the world, as I imagined I should have, many years earlier.

So, I travelled. Burma; the first South East Asian country I’d visited (other than Thailand) ever. It was beautiful, but I’m not sure I’d go back so soon. Watched the sun rise 300 feet off the ground, us hanging in the air like lanterns. Lazy days by the pool because it was too hot to do anything else, drinking cocktails in the water and reading Burmese Days, just because we could. Watched the city crumble around us and rise again from the ashes of a long, drawn out past. Thought for a moment that I was back where Singapore might have been, 50 years ago. Revisited Tokyo for the first time in 5 years, fell in love with it all over again. Ate too much. Drank up a storm. Did stupid things like go to a club with all our shopping and two huge shoeboxes. Saw the cherry blossoms rise and fall, got cheap thrills out of the cold wind and the sakura-related everything that they were selling, had numerous conversations about what we wanted to do with our lives, our loves, and more. Fell down the stairs the day after I came back, cut my foot, remained invalid for a week. Nearly didn’t make it to Bali, but somehow I did, with my crazy bandaged foot and industrial-strength injury tape and a shit load of painkillers, more lazy days around the villa, gingerly testing if my foot would explode with bacteria if I waded into the pool, reliving nights at Bounty just because we could, and having strange and wonderful walks back home to our villa with drunken friends and drunken conversations. Life seemed wonderful.

But wonderful is as wonderful does and life does what it likes. Somewhere along the way we lost ourselves and for me at least, it took a long time to find myself again. It’s still taking a long time. Maybe as we get older the time seems shorter, only because there’s not that much for you to find. What can you know that you don’t already know? Are there still parts of yourself to discover?

“Just because we could” seemed to be a recurring trend, for some reason. But that’s just it, isn’t it? Suddenly I realised I was no longer 21 and I was not standing on the cusp of my fullest potential. This was either my peak or the best was yet to be, but either way I was no longer at the beginning. I could no longer tell myself that there were this many second chances, that life was always going to be awesome and filled with endless joys and surprises (not that I’ve really ever done this), but when you’re 28 the only way to go seems to be forward. And so you do things, just because you can and there is no other way. We’ve come too far now; we’re too old. Either we try this, or we never do. And if not now, when?

And then where else? There was a point halfway through the year where I asked myself too many questions. The world changed. If it was at all possible to believe, I grew older (again). And then what was there left for me? I wanted to check myself into an island and never appear again. The days passed, and somehow I couldn’t. When I finally did run away it was the opportunity of a lifetime. And so started the camping, the rain, the fireworks, the dancing, the friends… It was tiring, it was amazing. It’s still tiring as hell, but I don’t think any amount of writing really adequately conveys the highs and lows of this year, and even just thinking about it makes me feel drained. And…

Now I’m here. It’s too far and not far enough from home. Here is a new life I never thought possible, and yet sometimes it seems as if I never left. This is a new city, but all around there are old connections. For all that it’s worth and all that I left behind, it was something I never expected to really do. But now I did it, and I’m finding pride in things that I never really expected to. The work is hard and shitty and I’m chained to my job just like I used to be, there are even more late nights and documents and possibilities of going blind, but part of me now knows that some day all this will pass, and I have options, choices, life decisions, alternatives, to be here or there or nowhere, just so long as it’s somewhere my heart is.

I don’t know where it is now. This year turned out like nothing I expected. It’s raining outside the window of my apartment where I now live alone and the only thing I come home to is the sound of myself. I think in time my heart could be here, but every other week I get the urge to fly home and stay forever. Strange because once again I feel like I’m standing on the verge of something. I wonder if this time it’ll take me three years to realise I should have just done it right at the beginning. I don’t know. I don’t know a lot of things anymore. And I’m still bumbling through life dreading all the hellos and the goodbyes. But I’m here. Just because I can be. And some day I’ll go home. Just because I can.

There won’t be many opportunities to feel this way again, I reckon. Some days I wake up and the air is swirling with uncertainty, and I think to myself that none of this is worth the battle that goes on in my head every morning. Some days I feel as clueless as a twelve year old kid, lying in bed thinking about her first crush. Some days all these words get stuck in my head and they can’t come out. Some days my heart’s a mess. I didn’t think it would still be a mess at 28, but here we are. Here we are in a city of skyscrapers and heartbreakers. But we’ll make it work. We’ve got to make it work somehow.

We’ll see what happens this year, but who knows. Some days I wish there was someone who could tell me where to go and how to get there. But in the meantime I take long drives in my head to nowhere, and hope I don’t get lost along the way. How is it possible to still be scared at this age? But it’s possible, if only because there’s so much less time left and so much more to lose. We’ll see if we find the correct question to the answer this year. How much longer do we have anyway?

The answer bloody well isn’t 42. It’s yes.

 

 

476: Crossing the Rubicon

I see: endless faces. I find: quite easily, those who try to lose themselves. They come in as the music plays on in the back, their footsteps agitated, purposeful. There is a heavy thump of anger as they call for a beer. It’s happy hour, I say to the uneducated. Most people fall for it, since the mode of transport to hell is irrelevant. Everyone is coasting, in any case; I just provide the oars.

I’m not here every day but these two appear more often than they should. They sit by the bar and as I serve their drinks they leave ajar the window to their private lives. The conversations are never grey or static, and sometimes there is another or two or four people. They laugh quietly, then loudly, then there might be an awkward silence, a pensive mood, when the conversation gets too heavy and too private and someone wants to run away but knows they shouldn’t, not just yet. Two or three agonising seconds later they request more drinks and I save the day. Somewhere else, somehow, a boat struggles to stay afloat. The days fade to the sound of some invisible countdown. They sit closer to each other. There are more words, and too many ways to say the same thing. The air hangs down, heavy as lanterns, and maybe their feelings blur as the music swirls with possibility. Once in a while it’s too much, and they dart outside to recharge. Inside between the drinks, over where I stand, is a river neither of them dares to cross. But they lean towards it, swaying against each other, waiting for the truth to drown them both. Each time they leave the universe readjusts. The rest of them mill around, soulless as flies, and the dances continue amidst the alcohol. I make the rest of the drinks as I am commanded to.

One day, she stops coming. The boat does not sink. The river flows. The universe remains undisturbed. He continues as he always has.

468

I turned 27. The days pass.

So I’ve been reading horoscopes recently, and more than ever before. What they tell me is nothing new in the grand scheme of things, but possibly mind-blowing only because it’s been a long time since I’ve heard it. Something new is coming your way, there will be eclipses this month, planets crash and stars misalign and you are caught somewhere in between, be careful. Be careful because things, new things, may drop in unannounced and knock you off-balance, somewhere between fear and uncertainty. You may have to rethink many existing foundations. How is it that one day life is orderly and you are content, a little cynical perhaps but on the whole just so, and then suddenly you find that the solid floor is a trap door and you are now in another place where the geography is uncertain and the customs are strange?

There have been many articles about the woes of our generation lately, and mostly how technology has transformed our social lives and interactions. Particularly that Rolling Stone article. I told someone recently I didn’t (never did? Now don’t?) believe in true love. S asked, but what is true love? To which I replied, well your question just answered your question, no? And isn’t that the eternal question?

I remembered that answer, and the only question you’d ever want an answer to. The answer bloody well isn’t 42, it’s yes.

451: long way home

I always dreamed at that some point in time, I would get to take the road below. That I would either drive along it, come across it, get to take a picture like it. I spent my days in California winding up and down those mountains, camera in hand, waiting for the moment this vista would appear. As it turned out, it didn’t, and I was driving more than I thought I would.

I always dreamed that at some point in time, I would get to take a road trip. Drive along the endless roads, windows wound down, the wind in your hair. Feeling young. (I know I make too much fuss about this sentiment and that people are tired of hearing about it, especially when there was a time when I was all like, “fuck this ‘把握青春‘ shit”, but funny how time flies, and funny how things change, huh?) As it turns out, the windows were closed much of the time. The sun was crazy hot and I got sunburnt through the open roof. I stuck my camera out the top and hoped it wouldn’t get whipped away as we wound up the mountain. We started off listening to the Eagles (“Take It Easy” near Winslow, Arizona — always a dream) but slowly it became cheesy 90s pop music and the nostalgic songs of our childhood. Sugar Ray, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Texas. The New Radicals. Spice Girls. And while we drove into Los Angeles, a mini karaoke session, with 张惠妹 in the air.

The country is so different from anything I’m used to, simply because it is so big and everything I imagine can be there will be there. There is everything and nothing. There are miles and miles of nothing. The rocks cave in and lean towards the highway like lovers. They are only restrained by nets. The streets in the city are grids, and sometimes they cage people in, walking round and round in circles with nowhere else to go. Round the block and you’re back where you began. You go somewhere by not going anywhere at all. There are endless pancakes and burgers and limitless views and sprawling metropolises to see if you climb high enough. The clouds are fluffy and white and always have a silver lining. You can always see the storms from a distance. Funny how this land of plenty keeps pushing against the debt ceiling. The debates played on and on in the motels at night.

Comfort is sometimes such an unnecessary thing and it always needs to be earned. I drove an SUV. I drove on the wrong side on the road. I forgot, after a while, which side was right. I was confused, just like how it was when I first stepped into Holland. I nearly got knocked down looking the wrong way for traffic, as I did before. But this time, not on foot, not on a bicycle, where the repercussions are few. At worst, it would have been a broken arm and a few scrapes. (Been there, done that.) But here it was a car, and the cars are always speeding and always enormous. The highways are freeways and are not always free. The roads go on forever and there aren’t always lights. In the darkness, we must somehow find our way. When the route loses itself in the distance, sometimes we begin to cry. But we get home safe, and so all is fine.

The truth is, dreams are dreams, and the reality is sometimes better.

450: after the thrill is gone

Since I’m trying to get back into the habit I might as well take advantage of it while I can. The highlight of my day came early in the morning (funny how the rest of it just pales in comparison soon after) when she told me, “wah you are really a thinker and this is why I love you.” There was nothing I could have said to that, only that I felt really happy (and slightly embarrassed). K called me on it the other day when he said, “you’re not used to receiving compliments, are you,” which surprised him (and me) and left me a bit bewildered for a short second. But ah well.

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436: may all your wishes come true

DisneySea and Universal Studios. Probably the second and third happiest places on earth. But I’m a ride junkie, even though I love Winnie the Pooh to bits. So the theme park that gets my vote is Universal Studios, just because it has a rollercoaster that I got to go on five times. It was the first time in the history of me visiting theme parks that I didn’t have to queue more than 45 minutes for the most popular ride. My longest wait (for Thunder Mountain Railroad or whatever it’s called)? 3 hours!!!!

Joy at the height of summer. Much love.

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435: all this hate and love

Maybe it’s true what they say about big cities; maybe it’s not. What is more certain is that life goes on the way it has for years, regardless of the tourists that come and go, snapping pictures for their travel albums back home. Funny how scenes of every day life translate into souvenirs, as if you would make a lovely picture just standing outside and taking in the laundry. But you do make a lovely picture. I don’t know what to say about Japan. Most of these were day trips, achieved by taking a train out from the cities, filled with skyscrapers and illegible Japanese neon signs. Here the lights go off by ten, and the streets are empty after dinner. We wandered slowly and tentatively, afraid to break the hush. Once in awhile we pass by a convenience store (truly convenient), refuel, go on our way again. A bicycle stops, and a high school jock gets off. He wears his track suit, his dyed hair is painfully brown, illuminated against the harsh flourescent lights. They step in to flip over magazines along the aisle, filled with covers of pretty girls with big boobs.

These cities are old and quiet and the residents cycle through everyday life with steady momentum. People are less brash, more polite. The air is fresh and cold. The mountains continue to exist, as they always have, without our presence or help.

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406: 下辈子别再做女人

The first two weeks of the new year have been kind to me (but not my waistline). Increasingly I realise events that I thought would have been more significant to me pass me by without me noticing, which makes me realise that oftentimes things are not as important as we think they are at first. I spent the first few days of the new year in Taipei, where random people wished us 新年快乐 in the streets. It sounded a bit discordant at first, mainly because I still never get used to this whole idea of new years till it’s too far in to deny that the dates have changed. Then I went to Hong Kong to attend a wedding, and it was beautiful. Every wedding I attend brings with it some wistfulness (I’m a girl, don’t expect any less) — ever since I was a little girl I’d think to how it would be like when it was finally my turn. (I know when I finally get married I’ll look back on all these posts and laugh at what a silly person I was. That’s the beauty of hindsight.)

I used to laugh and joke with R about this, when we were overseas. I remember spending the few days after Christmas, before we left for Paris, in W’s house. It was one late night, after S and M (haha) had come over from Charing Cross Road and we littered W’s carpet with mulled wine and chips (Walker’s Sensations!). Talking about life and love and weddings, and how we feared we’d never have enough time to find a boyfriend within the next few years. We have no more time!, we lamented. I was twenty-one, teetering on the edge of twenty-two. I was young, but not as young as I ever would be. I was not eighteen, or nineteen, or any of the ages where I could freely discard everything I knew about life and society and all the things that would actually make a relationship work. We were clear about that. Where were all the boys in our lives, and where would they be? When would the next one come along? What was the probability of one actually coming along, in the next few years, that love of your life that you absolutely must marry? We continued talking about this, way into Paris, talking about how at fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, one never cares about whether the boy you like is likely to do this, or that, or cheat on you. At those ages love, or whatever we thought it was, was enough. He was tall. He played basketball. Or rugby, or softball, or ran the 200m. He played the guitar, he wrote you poems. Both of you walked around Orchard Road, or Junction 8, or Parkway Parade, after school, holding hands tentatively. You were scared to bump into anybody else, or it would be all over the class the next day. We carried these moments in our heads, all the way up to that night in London, where we let them all out again.

(from ourblogoflove.com)

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389: i reach out for you (and our hearts collide)

Checked shirt days are rare. Checked shirt days are the days when the clouds are grey and the sky is overcast and it threatens to rain all day but it doesn’t. Not till you’re inside ensconced in the building where you are constantly on the verge of freezing. But you don’t because your checked shirt saves you. Checked shirts are for days when you feel lonely and cold and require some warmth. A hug that doesn’t need to come from people. Checked shirts are for warm coffee and nice books and hiding in your bed.

Anyway I just bought another one, so that’s one more hug for me!

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386: to know it, and love it for what it is

IMG_0741

There was never a greater moment of happiness when I looked at my shadow on the wall while the piano was playing and I was singing at the top of my voice watching everything go by. There was never a bigger smile on my face, and I knew it for sure. The lights were changing and the stage was empty, and all around the voices churned. As somebody fiddled with the camera we leaped across the stage like children, scrawling words into the empty air. Sleepy faces were turned up towards the ceiling. I heard all this music flowing out, into the stage, into our heads and minds. Yet somehow at the other end of the stage hung a deep and pervasive sorrow. There is something tragic in silence, in juxtaposition, in contrast.

There will be no other time like this time. It is one of the greatest things in life, I think — to feel joy, and recognise it, at the very same time.

363: 等下一个天亮

As I get older I realise I am less and less prone to subterfuge. It may be a good thing or it may not, but somehow I can’t find the energy to hide behind words anymore. There used to be a time when I took great pleasure in making everyone guess what I was talking about (strange how people put up with me, sometimes) but nowadays I’m tired of mind games and second guessing all the time.

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361: it’s just rough to stay tough

It’s funny how things never turn out the way you expect them to. And though I’ve said this many times over in the past few months, it probably never really hits you till it should. Where do you go when you’re lonely? Do you remember, that time when we were still in love, and as usual I was being cryptic because I’m retarded like that, and you said, no, I’m not here to gun down romance, but you did anyway, in the end, barely a week later (or two; who remembers?). Slowly the answers to every question matter less and less; there is no point asking why anymore. Why? has no answers, or at least none satisfactory. And finally, the answers die away, in a corner by themselves, like little birds in the winter. 

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344: singing my life with his words

Strange how the time flies; suddenly I’m back in school again, lessons are starting up, and as usual, I’m all happy and raring to go. It’s good to be back in Holland, which is slowly but surely beginning to feel familiar. Still, home is where the heart is, and sometimes I think that it’s not so much the country but the fact that I can come home to my own room, my own life and space, and just do my own thing. Travelling is fun, and so is meeting up with people, but sometimes all you need is time to yourself. I have always treasured having my own life, and now more than ever, I feel like I’m getting myself back again.

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339: remember 2008

The year has been eventful, to say the least. I ushered in the new year at the beginning of the year (last year, now) in a variety of circumstances; every year with the Hwa Chong people, screaming “Happy New Year” at the top of our voices around the swimming pool, and then drinking Raffles beer at the front of Block B, our cars parked in a perfect straight line along the parallel parking lots. I was wearing a red dress, I remember, and the rest were happy and drunken.

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338: wishing only wounds the heart

We’re in Paris now, after a week in London. The journey to France has been tumultuous, to say the least. From changing travel companions to booking Eurostar tickets to finding last minute accomodation just as Christmas Eve drew to a close, the event that reinforced how this entire trip so far has been a godsend was the fact that we missed our Eurostar train yesterday morning due to rather unforeseen circumstances. And yet, we’re here, in Paris, freezing our asses off in the winter, but the night lights are lovely and the buildings sparkle.

It is vastly different from London, but I am glad to be here. Christmas in London was special, not just because I spent it overseas for once, but because I didn’t spend it with family. I was glad to be with friends, and not alone, and meeting new people on Christmas night itself was also fun. I was glad I took that chance. It scares me sometimes; how I seek company now more than ever, as if being alone is really such a bad thing.

It is not; but when the weather is cold, sometimes all you need are some friends.

I have bought a lot of things. Buying things always makes me happy, for some reason, and whatever that says about me, it doesn’t matter. We also ate an insane amount, from cheap food at the borough markets to expensive one-starred restaurants, went to the Tate Modern, took stupid pictures along the river and filmed retarded videos, and I haven’t laughed this much in a long while. My buys were good — Kwek was my porter, carrying all my shopping and my jackets and my bags (thank you) — while I tried on shoes after shoes after clothes after clothes.

I watched Wicked, which I enjoyed immensely. Some parts made me almost cry, but this is me being subjective. This is all I can say. I am trying not to live under shadows, to come out into the light and be myself again, the girl I used to be, or maybe the girl I have become. Remembering what I used to love, what I used to do, and all the things I have been.  I am getting excited over the old things, rediscovering new things, and indeed who can say if I’ve been changed for the better; but I have been changed for good.

WATCH IT. WATCH IT NOW. Funny and heartbreaking as hell.

(如果你能拿得起,我也一定会放得下)

337: and where are the deep shelters?

I have been probably pushing myself too hard. There are things that I don’t need to do, but I have been doing them anyway. This includes stupid things like reading articles and cross-referencing them, putting in citations in my own paper that cite this article which cited that article on this page under this footnote, and drawing an insane number of mindmaps for that last International Company Law exam just so I would remember everything, which I didn’t, in the end. The last three weeks have been crazy and mad, and I’d like to say I’ve barely had time to think, but the truth is I’ve been thinking a lot (and maybe too much), and I don’t like what I come up with. Everything I write does not make sense, now that I read it again, and even though I passed my exam, I am still somewhat unhappy with the results. I want to do well, even if I don’t have to, and this bugs me. Am I asking for too much?

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335: she’ll take a tumble on you

The semester is almost over. As usual one is struck by how fast time flies, and the way in which it has flown. People have already gone home, to wherever they came from, and one recalls the tears that I find myself unable to shed. Maybe it was because I was not the one leaving; maybe I did not have sufficient connections with these people. There were lovely people, people I wish I’d known better were I not caught up in my own drama, but three months and meaningful friendships are hard to sustain. One is aware that this is not an excuse and that I could have, if I tried, or bothered to try. That being said, maybe next semester will be different, and one can always hope for the best. Making new friends, sustaining them, remembering why I am here in the first place, living for myself. The world is now and forever waiting for me to explore it. For once I will try not to be defeated by my own inaction. 

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333: fireworks in lake michigan

As usual, I have not done anything (much) today. I have an exam on Monday but I’ve barely started studying. This would be better if it were actually graded so I could feel more fear, or written so that I could feel less. As it is, it’s an oral exam. I’m scared shitless and yet not, and my brain is continually pushing waves of apathy towards me. 

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332: where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about

… we’ve got so much to do, but only so many hours in a day. And we can dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true.

I have decided to update this post everyday for a week with the things that make me happy everyday. It is time for some POSITIVITY! Also, strange how they say people only blog when they are either 1) very depressed 2) very free 3) very busy. I suppose this must be true, because I do it all the time. 

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