Highlight of my week: passion, creativity and men in suits at the 24th Congress of the Federation of Asian Master Tailors. What a privilege to witness skilled hands steadily stitching in perfect lines and sketching complex geometries! Also got to say hello to the incredible duo behind Vanda Fine Clothing, but the icing on the cake was to be working and whispering alongside my man, who really worked it wardrobe-wise on both days, far more than I did! We were there for an article we are working on together, so please stay tuned for more :)
1. halfway through the evening, pre-dinner chatter and beef rendang excitement melts into complete silence as we pick at crab legs and spoon creamy, pale yellow sauce over mounds of rice. fingers become claw-like. we get to work with shell crackers and end up with flecks of crab on our fingertips and salty-rich smears all over our palms. i love that no one is shy, that the food is amazing to the point of requiring total concentration, and also secretly that neighbouring diners occasionally peer over our shoulders to gawk at our special order feast. those dulu kala crabs did not die in vain! the next thing i know we are curled up on a 2m rectangle of paisley cloth i had only bought two hours before, growing sleepy on this makeshift picnic blanket by the still seletar waters. goodnight.
2. tomorrow i am interviewing for a job i am not sure i want. some days, ‘want’ refers to desiring something good and sensible, something you could predict me ‘wanting’ based on my resume. other days, however, the extent of wanting spins throughout the unknown future, unravels back to childhood dreams, and the first definition becomes glaringly void. every single time this happens i berate myself for being self-indulgent but then there is always another ‘if’ around the corner, and the same unanswerable questions. the only thing that makes sense are sam’s words, effortless words — but you haven’t given it a chance yet…perhaps the night is young?
the day was too golden to spend inside the lab, so wans and i snuck off to meet kenny for plain vanilla bakery cupcakes and the usual tea/dinner hybrid. i thought it would only take an hour at most, but by the power of wan lin’s trusty pink car, as well as our unyielding appetite for richer, sweeter afternoons, we ended up moving on to a bench in the pandan valley barbecue area with three forks and two slices of pie, pondering over the benefits of a graham cracker crust, and engaging in pie politics over who gets the last piece — a game i’m happy to play! later on, a golden retriever picks up slippers with his teeth and gives them to us as an invitation for a tug-of-war game, and wans and i go sun-chasing at the park i’ve never known of. a little boy shows me the shell he’s found by the breakwater and scampers off to find more. we walk on, and find clouds that look like hockey players, pest controllers and smoke.
not quite sure i know how to make sense of days like these. they are beautiful, no doubt, but they are also thick and heavy — with summer heat and the promises (or threats?) of the formless future. can we continue to devour life by the forkful when it doesn’t have a shape or name?
top panorama – west coast park; pies from windowsill pies at pandan valley
scenes from my weekend: a city burning black and gold, smoke and stingray under skyscrapers, waiting for a tow truck after our first accident and watching the mini creep away later, hoisted by a forklift. in between: rainy afternoons with my roommate from davis and her boyfriend, the lingering taste of salted egg crab, museum-hopping and being tongue-tied on local history, clips from adele’s royal albert hall dvd.
on saturday i sat with a boy. we picked at a salad and played draw something for twenty minutes, but separately, and twenty minutes after that i was seated across another boy — he made a mess of his peanut rice balls in sweet beancurd, and his mother was helpless, only armed with a tissue and a reprimand. i don’t want to complain but perhaps there might be more than this? if discontent is the mother of ambition, i hope i’m on to something amazing
it is a very lucky thing to be able to clearly recall good days and fresh experiences, but what about somehow managing to physically live through an afternoon all over again? This time, there were cameras and lights, and I was a lot more at ease, but to be in the same room with the same clothes, talking to the same people saying the same words? Recollections and figments begin to blur; there is no other feeling but gratefulness, no other word but ‘surreal’. How can I keep these two sets of memories separate now?
The last two weeks saw my life in its most unrecognizable form — a flurry of opportunities and unexpected grace, but paid for with non-stop 5am nights, a work table strewn with academic journal articles that never got put away, sundays in school. On wednesday, I got fed up, took a gamble with my good-girl self, sent in an incomplete thesis draft for review and rushed off to the theatre for a few hours to see cooling off day. Yesterday I took a whole day off, ate tokyo bananas, made the trek to katong to collect reserved magazine back issues with my mother. It was glorious.
Today is another sunday and I am still in school. Most of the time it feels like my mind has been buzzing non-stop, but with what? It’s a blurry, prickly, nameless feeling. My thoughts are tangled up and I’m too tired to unravel the knots, and where word clouds once existed in my mind, all there is now is…static. Static, and a longing to stay in bed just a little longer. On the bright side, almost everything tickles my funny bone lately (have you seen pusheen or the new despicable me 2 teaser?), kenny brought us milk pan buns, and we are moving forward to a new future every day!!
After five years of knowing her, I finally have a sweet photo with M, the cat that taught me to love all other cats :) She actually looks curious and comfortable here, which probably only happens about half the time at most. The rest of the time she just looks like “hello human please vacate the premises so i can have my 58th nap of the day, and some me-time chasing the door stopper…kthx”.
The next couple of weeks are going to be hectic! I’ve got something in the works with POSKOD.SG, a 12,000 word thesis draft to churn out, teacher interviews and some random assignments in between that seem like mere trifles now. My mind is buzzing 24/7 as a result, coupled with little daydreams of somewhere exotic and plans for the future stuffed in between the spaces — this week I’ve caught my thoughts drifting to our dusty lane in Hanoi, the 3am dim sum riots of Hong Kong, and California, as always. Treating myself to little gifts in between to preserve my sanity: this case for my new phone was purchased last night, and these earrings, this glamorous red blush, and some fun bangles just might take their turns soon!
Dad set up the christmas tree and we decorated, and got our december on with the sounds of she & him and foam antler hats. We are finally all done with studying at the same time, and it feels like I have my sisters back. There is dancing/singing/sims-playing/complete family dinners happening. Every time I look at these girls, I see so much joy, honesty and the conviction to live righteously. And then I keel over laughing because someone has pulled a face or cracked a joke, and I want to shower them with kisses all over again.
As of today, I finally own a pair of leopard print ballet flats, thanks to the kind sponsorship of my mother. Lauren actually picked these out for me because she knew I’d love them, which is amazing because I’m not usually the crazy shoe type. It’s important that things pass the sister test. Anyway, help — what to wear this with? Are these shoes condemned to a lifetime of pairing with classic chambray/silk shirts and neutrals? I must confess that I’m a bit scared of crossing into scary-aunty territory..
On my mind, in between notes and writing: crystal waters and blue houses, pavements and a salty breeze. These pictures are from Hong Kong, but these feelings have no time and location. We could be thirteen and dancing by the foamy waters of the east, twenty-two and drifting down a Chinese river, or bundled in scarves in San Francisco. Don’t want to be there now (because I need to pass my exams!) but I want to hold these visions close, the same way girls clutch at their skirts in the wind, desperately protect youth and beauty for as long as they’ll last.
The brightest thing of the week, amidst gorgeous grey weather and daily study time — sequins!
Life in (more than) 3 sentences:
1. There is always time for wine, a cuddle, and a movie. There should be.
2. Halfway to the end of exams, and a short pre-christmas trip to Penang, Langkawi and my dad’s hometown. Also Malacca, perhaps, either on family time or on my own?
3. After countless of emails regarding nightmare logistics, thesis research work is finally feeling rewarding. It’s been two days in a row that I’ve been amazed by kind women (and one man!) who have one of the toughest jobs imaginable, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to get to interview them! This is the easy part.