71 | Unceasingly

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I suppose the only thing that would justify me putting up a huge poster of me in a ridiculous kaftan top (because it is bitterly chilly out in Singapore no less) and with a pizza in my hands is that I am turning eighteen and this puts an end to.. nonsense. Or perhaps it is just the beginning. I do not know.

It only really began to set in yesterday – reality, I mean – when Mom gave me a hug and congratulated me on turning 18. Then came a flurry of texts and phone calls, most memorably Noel, because he finally busted out the words he’d tried to say for months, Elainn, especially when her relative busted in and told her to keep quiet, and then the voice recordings by Janice which were viciously hilarious, the social media flood from Jean and then the quiet text from Liansheng (which, really, was probably the most surprising). 🙂 I didn’t think anyone else would call but Kaiyang – Kaiyang – called and congratulated me as well. Plus points for sincerity? He’s certainly very proud of it!

02 gave me the most unique memory today with a celebration. I was told there’d be extra class of a module I particularly hate so I was cursing and swearing all the way up only to be pleasantly surprised at the door with paddlepop cake and a birthday song. Thank you guys! They’d heard I’d like to have a class gathering like we did at chalet and that’s exactly what we had, bonding over pizza (CHEESE PIZZA!) and talk. That’s exactly how I like 02!

20140120-222409.jpgKaiyang, squirrel incarnate.

20140120-222520.jpgThis looks so much like a family portrait I can’t even.. all it’s missing is a frame.

20140120-222532.jpgWith Cynthia, who so kindly organized this birthday gathering & gave me this fisheye + macro lens!


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Eunice and I are beginning to look.. alike.

20140120-222539.jpgDirty Juliet’s in the house.

20140120-222558.jpgMandatory shot with the mama, and the daisy-selling, truffle-growing farmer twin.

20140120-222551.jpgFinishing up the paddlepop cake. Look at the chaos 02 is in behind us.

Second surprise of the day came when I was doing my work in my room and I looked out to the living room where – lo and behold! – a fat cake sat there squat. Good golly, was I surprised.

20140120-222503.jpgYes, raspberry cheesecake!

This came as a totally unexpected surprise because when I was little I used to cry – like bawl the entire kindergarten down, whenever someone sang me a birthday song. Teachers said I was shy, but I prefer not to say that now because who would ever believe me? In any case, I think my parents just wanted to see if I’d grown up.. to see if I would still bawl. Na-uh. By the way, Swee Heng’s raspberry cheesecake is delicious! It’s not rich but it’s fluffy. Oh, it’s quite decent, I should say!

I received many gifts today and for that I am downright thankful. Those who wrote me letters, thank you. Words are one of the most beautiful language love can be conveyed in and I am so touched by them, simple as they are. Those who gave me gifts to go along with them, thank you again, because I never for a moment really wanted anything except your company 🙂 Thank you for making my day extraordinary, even though I tried to keep it low-key. Thank you for the kind wishes and blessings in all sorts of languages, whether it’s by personal text, social media or a face-to-face wish. The intention behind these are downright moving, especially when someone texts you after a long hiatus from your life! Perhaps these are what birthdays were made for – to reconnect people who’ve drifted away..?

I’ve felt incredibly loved today, but perhaps it’s time to remind myself that year-long this love hasn’t changed. Some of these people especially, I know they love me unceasingly, but I know it with my head and not my heart. It’s high time I transferred that knowledge where it can be best put to use healing battle wounds!

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18: in eighteen seconds you can rip someone apart, in eighteen minutes you can do basic housekeeping for your room, in eighteen hours you can deliver new life, and what have I done in eighteen years?

Looking back, I’ve made my fair share of blunders, been the more loving one a fair amount of time, worked like my life depended on it. So many fond memories, so many people who’ve crossed my path, some of whom have paths that have intermingled with mine for over a decade, others inching their way there, most just seeing the beginning of the perilous journey to lifelong friendship. I can gladly say that these people, each and every one of you, made footprints just crossing my path, and these can’t be erased. A small word, a kind gesture or a smile could have profoundly changed the way I look at things, and as much as I try to let them know sometimes someone slips through. Here are my thanks, for being on this journey with me and for altering my life just as I’ve (hopefully) altered yours. 🙂 That’s why humans are made for socializing, we create dents and prints on each other’s lives until the fabric of our lives each become like unique, well-worn leather. Some are pebbled, some are grainy and some are cross-hatched, but they’re all still leather and we each leave special somethings on each other’s canvas. Our actions, thoughts and words come back to us through a thousand sympathetic fibres, connecting each of us cosmically, a common feeling of what it feels like to be human leaping between us. This is why I believe in people first and foremost (and on a more down-to-earth scale, why I am in HR)!

It’s tough thinking of what I’ll be in the next 10 years. I suppose I can’t tell with even 20% certainty, but if I had to plot a trajectory I’d say that I’ll probably still be dabbling with languages, linguistics and people. I might have left theatre, or I might be contributing to the local scene. I might begin writing fiction (which has always intimidated me) or have sworn off poetry. There are so many things that hang precariously in a balance, and every day is full of work to get myself from here to the future that I envision myself in. It’s a little tough reminding myself to work hard now so I can live comfortably in future, yet preparing myself for the possibility that I may not have the opportunity to live as comfortably as I live now. Either way I believe that as long as languages/linguistics and people are a part of my life, somehow or rather I’ll come out okay. I’ll be fine, if not happy. These two things are my anchors, or, dare I even say it, the reason why I live. For those two alone I have so much gratitude to give!

In conclusion, 18 is a fine age, and I always say this – I treasure my youth. To be in an age where time seems to crawl and you are free to explore, free to love with abandon and free to chase everything under the sky that catches your fancy, I sense that this freedom is not something I can keep for most of my life. I shall cherish it while I have it, or not begrudge it when it’s gone. 18 brings a sense of finality, a close to my childhood years, and an opening to my adult years. It brings the smell of family and grocery shopping and bills on the wind, but also brings with it a heightened sense of perspective. No longer am I looking up at others from the ground. I am at eye-level, and I am ready to contend and connect. It tastes of naivety, fearlessness and endless hard work, but it’s one step at a time till you have your feet on the clouds.

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70 | Appentence

(n.) an eager desire, an instinctive inclination; an attraction or natural bond

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Clearly, 2014 started off with a bang. The first cohesive activity I had was chalet with (of course, who else?) DHRMP02, and I can proudly say that we are really extremely bonded. The entire class has this class spirit I’d never experienced with other classes before and though we clique, we’re close even between cliques. This chalet simply brought us all closer together!

Headed to the chalet at Pasir Ris Park after collecting my Longchamp Planetes (which, by the way, I am obsessed with) and proceeded to enjoy the night barbecuing, sticking flowers in our hair and having heart to heart talks. First round of heart to hearts came over drinks from 10PM closing in on midnight, and round 2 came after we stormed Mac at 2AM in the morning. We basically sat in a circle and talked about our future, our lives, our dating preferences, all the way till 6AM, and thereon we were very kindly disturbed by Kaiyang till 7AM.

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Headed home after chalet only to (no surprise here) receive texts from Fraser and Tongwai for a mahjong session. This is where the miracle begins. Having slept 3 hours, I showered and headed all the way down to the north-east to play. Gave myself the very convenient excuse that since I’d been “deprived of proper playtime” during holidays, I should indulge. Came back after 1/2 a round and proceeded to eat and concuss my way to morning.

School began, and things went absolutely crazy from there on. The first week has been so intense, I don’t even know where these activities came up from. Monday started off on a rather hectic note, which I should really have taken as a warning, because once Tuesday came all the big bombs were dropped without warning.

Scooted off after school with Kimtat to Queensway to collect chapter tees & have dinner before heading to SCCCI for translation lessons. By the time the end of the lesson came round I was so completely bushed (but happy). Wednesday was a trifle more tiring as I had lunch with Eunice and Micaela before rushing off to National Museum to do front-of-house for Nine Years Theatre’s Enemy of the People, as part of the M1 Fringe Festival. I was definitely tired, but you can bet I was happy. Had the immense good luck of watching the show, considering that all tickets were sold out. Best part? The post-show dialogue went on for an hour, and I was inspired by how they said they do Chinese theatre simply because they can. Yes, exactly because I can. 🙂

Thursday was spent welcoming my grandaunt and uncle from Malaysia with dinner at grandma’s place after a long day of catching up on work. Apparently didn’t get to do much, because I got stuck on accounts for a mighty long time. Slept early that day because Friday was simply a piece of hell (or heaven, depending on your perspective). Woke up at 8AM for the earliest lesson I have in my timetable, and when that ended at 10AM, Russell & I hauled ourselves to SPCC for course counselling till 1PM. Which I must say was a great experience. Surprisingly this year, nobody really asked about psychology. Most enquired about the HR component of our course. Splendid indeed. I hope to see you all in DHRMP’s freshman orientation next year!

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Had a short break and a cup of coffee at home before going down to National Museum for my second night at the front-of-house. This time was even more enjoyable. There’s something about going back to the theatre that makes me feel like I’m heading right back home. Handled some admin work while the show went on and facilitated the post-show dialogue. I think I did front-of-house 3 times out of 4 shows they had simply so I could hear the post-show dialogue go on. Boy, it’s always interesting to hear what the audience has to say. If you missed Nine Years Theatre and their production Enemy of the People this time, you’ve definitely lost your opportunity, but catch their production of Art by Yasmina Reza in February in conjunction with Huayi 2014!

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Helping out at Fringe 2014 has given me a bunch of new friends from across the theatre industry, people who saw me day after day and began discussing theatre with me. I’ve also been given insights on how to do front-of-house, how things work behind the scenes, and it’s still a dream I hold one day that I can finally be in the theatre not as an audience but as someone who’s played a part in production. Best case scenario, I’m the surtitlist or even better, the playwright, but if not – I could be stage hands and be just as happy! That’s the joy theatre gives 🙂

Had my last Korean exam at ezSAM before heading off for dinner with my Korean classmates, and later SRT playwrights. What a hectic week! And just when I thought it was over, Monday came around.

This week will mostly be filled with catching up on project work and academics. Oh, and booking shows. I’ve got all my shows penned down in my planner and by the looks of it I will exceed the SGD 820 I spent on 2013’s theatre season. Just Huayi alone is enough to dry my wallet, what with shows like 《如梦之梦》,《南海十三郎》,《江南好人》,and the one I can’t miss, 《艺术》. Maybe these shows will displace some of the guilt and misery I feel for missing The Necessary Stage’s restaging of “The Best Of..” why Chelsea when everyone’s raved to you about the show why do you do this to yourself?

I shall be busting some money on Amanda Lee Koe’s Ministry of Moral Panic tomorrow. Decided to give it special mention because all my esteemed reviewers have given this book the thumbs-thumbs-up and after Sam’s very successful marketing pitch, I am now on a craze to get the book.

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Before signing off for the week, I must share this with you, if only for the boasting rights. Hahaha, things like that aren’t daily occurences.

Some may know that recently, I’ve been increasingly addicted to Korean rappers such as Beenzino, Verbal Jint, Tablo, Dok2, YMGA, Paloalto, Drunken Tiger, etc. I’m new to the hip-hop fandom so I’m not going into all the fan battles or disses, but this is cool stuff.

Masta Wu is a rapper who very quickly ascended to the top of my favourites list because of his drawn, slang-filled rapping. His smooth tone, delayed beats and flow just draw you in before you can say “Rap it.” I unwittingly tweeted and tagged him that day while raving about his songs and bingo! Here he goes, favouriting my tweet.

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I suspected that he favourites all fan tweets but hey, I was in for a glorious surprise when I found myself on the same list as Lydia Paek, GD, CL, Dara and Peter Chun. Talk about a highlight in my week.

Pardon the small-time fangirling, will you? It’s been a long time since I’ve indulged in it. 🙂

69 | Rise

“One resolution I have made and try always to keep is this: To rise above the little things,” John Burroughs.

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2013 has come and gone by as quickly as it possibly could. If 2013 stood out more than other years in memory it was probably because it held so many vivid memories that I won’t be soon forgetting. It was another great year for me, and I’m glad to say I fulfilled almost all of my new year’s resolutions last year, which prompts me now to set a new list to accomplish.

SHORT TERM GOALS

  1. Faithfully journal in any language daily, and complete 1 year’s worth of the sentence journal (pictured above).
  2. Complete TOPIK Intermediate in October this year.
  3. Successfully graduate from my diploma in Translation and Interpretation.
  4. Save $2k in a year.
  5. Write 2 playlets and 7 poems.

LONG TERM GOALS

  1. Be more independent – learn to manage time, finances, possessions and chores more efficiently.
  2. Learn to look at an issue from different angles and with clarity.
  3. Treat people sincerely, even if they’re insincere. To empathize and to seek understanding, not pass judgments.

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Over the course of the year I’ve increasingly learnt the merits of being able to process things logically. I used to think being the wild child was just part of me, but this year one of my biggest successes has been in learning how to segregate the rational side of me and the wild child side of me. A crucial note though, is that I still do not consider myself any more logical. I have merely learnt how when I can be rational and when I can let the wild child out. I don’t necessarily believe a whole lot in logic because logic leaves no space for the kindnesses in life. However, as I have proved this year, being bad at math, and arguably, by extension, logic,  is not the same as being bad at problem-solving. Problem-solving is more a matter of being able to take a step back and process the issue at hand considering the sum of all its parts. I’m definitely better at that than I am at troubleshooting or pinpointing detailed steps to take. Not a very meticulous person, as everyone knows.

Another important thing I’ve gained this year is to distinguish between personal life and work life, and also to keep my emotions in check. It was a sobering lesson but it’s important not to expect that anyone will cut you slack even if you have gone through the most heartbreaking thing in the universe. Nobody is in your exact circumstance and nobody can fully empathize, so don’t expect it. Even in the most shattering of times this year I wasn’t cut any slack. People still expected me to function as well and as fully as I was without the emotional wounds. It’s not a surprise that I was taken aback especially since these people were the same ones I cut slack for, but that’s another story. I learnt a lesson from it, and I’m not jaded or cynical, but I think it’s best not to expect more than the basic that others can give.

After spending 1.5 semesters in HR, I’m glad to say I like this course more with each project. It’s probably safe to say that it’s due to the fact that these projects feel fresher and are more dynamic than regular schoolwork is. I love collaborating with my classmates to bring a project on its feet, I like the way I am more proficient at managing projects than anything else. It might be the only time the extroversion in me is really full-blown. This year I’ve also become more introverted, or as I was corrected, introspective. I have become slightly more controlled and live a little more in my head. I no longer recklessly charge at problems or prospects and I definitely am calmer even in day-to-day conversations. I guess my close friends will be most glad to hear of this if they haven’t already witnessed it first-hand!

With respect to relationships, many came and went this year. Yet for reasons I don’t know, I came to accept these rather peacefully and without fight. It’s not that these people weren’t important, because they were, but I really hope this means that I’ve come to accept that everyone is a passerby in my life and as they come and go they leave pieces of themselves behind that I can keep for ever. That’s a nice thought to conclude my learnings of 2013 with.

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So here’s to 2014, a year of growing up pains, gains & losses and a new window of time to touch the world with. 🙂 Are you ready for it? Because I certainly am.