Surrender

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There are days where you feel invincible, days where you feel as if the mere tipping of your toes will hoist you high enough to pick a star out from the night sky. These days, everything you do is adequate. Even the mere act of breathing makes you revel in the fact that there’s so much you can do, will do and have already done that you will one day compile into a heaping list that’ll give meaning to your existence. Days like this, you wish will never end.

Then there are days where you feel like a sail boat on windless sea. Days where hours spent relentlessly working amount to nothing, like scribbling with white ink on white sheets, like dusting cupboards during dry storms. Days where you try so hard but get no where. Days where light blinds and darkness suffocates.

Sadly, today is one of those.

I don’t have pearls of wisdom or words of comfort because most of us have these days that nothing can turn around. Reassurance stings like swabs on wounds and advice falls like bitterness at the back of tongues. Bad days remain bad despite all the good in the world.

But it’s alright, because like everything else, days too shall pass. Good ones, bad ones, they’ll all fall into the valley where we’ll forget to pull them out for scrutiny so even when we look back, we look pass them, through them, away from them as if they never even happened.

So just hold on tight and keep your knees a little too close to your chest for comfort. Let this bad day reign over you, will it away and celebrate its passing. Oh, and admit defeat. The earlier you surrender, the less it hurts.

Image credits: Daniel

Apprenticeship—A Must-Board Vessel

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I went for 5 interviews-Nylon, Cosmo, Catalog and Goodstuph (twice). And whenever the perennial question of “Why did you quit Law school?” comes along with flabbergasted tones of disbelief reeking with judgement, I answer as though I’ve been anticipating its cliched arrival: I like to create, and mould things out of thin air. I like to tell stories and make people fall in love with what I adore. I like to help you visualize, craft words and spin webs held together by both truths and lies-and writing lets me do that.

Completing my 2 very short stints at Cosmo and Catalog have been very very rewarding. Don’t trust people who tell you that apprenticeships are not worth your time or effort-they are wrong, terribly so. Granted, the renumeration constantly disappoints. Its not a very lucrative industry, so you either write for them and gain that 5 seconds of fame when your name appears in the credit roll in font size 2.5, or you don’t write for them at all. But what you get back from just sitting at a random desk with a decent machine is immensely gratifying.

Every first day I have at a new office (okay, so I’ve only had 2 first days), I spend the night tearing my hair out trying to put together an outfit that says “Hey bitches, I’m stylish but not overly so.”. Its so frustrating because its you leaving your first impression so you’re desperately trying to achieve that delicate balance between “fashion forward” and “trying too hard”. On my first day at Cosmo, I wore a navy blue peter pan collar-ed shirt and mustard jeans, and for Catalog, a leaf motif black tank with dark blue denims. I remember it so vividly because I possibly went through a hundred combinations before settling on my outfit, yet the harsh reality is that possibly no one else but yourself remembers it. For the first few days, I’d breathe really lightly, walk really softly and pretty much tried to be invisible around everyone, even preferring to email my questions to my Ed-in-chief when she was seated 3 steps away from me. Some part of me decided that no attention was better than bad attention, so I simply went incognito. You’ll be scared, and rightfully so. You’re the newbie, the temp, the intern, the lowest life form in this office. But don’t forget that while you’re meeting new people, so are those around you. Granted, they’ve been around longer and possibly know where the pantry and smoking area are, but everyone’s afraid of the unknown. And guess what’s the good news, you are the unknown. My eye-liner and colored contacts act didn’t last past 2 weeks. Props to me.

When it comes to the writing part of the job, know this: I hate writing about fashion, simply because I cannot give a hoot about it. It is not where my interests lie, nor do I have a keen eye for the season’s latest trends. Its not like I dress like a hobo, or piece my pinks with my greens, fashion just doesn’t appeal to me. And when I first started work at Catalog, it was a complete nightmare. Finding out that 80% of what they published revolved around fashion meant that I was going to spend most of my apprenticeship writing about something I simply could not tolerate-FASHION. I couldn’t find words to describe the yellows, whites and browns, neither could I illustrate the cut of a dress or the fluidity of its hems. But now, words like neutral tones, cool palette, pops of colors, vivacious splash of purples, strong silhouetting, futuristic necklines, psychedelic prints-they all come naturally to me. My ability to learn surprises me, every single day.

There’s possibly a whole bucket more of interesting stuff I’ve learnt in these short few months (like how you’ll hate having work to do, but hate not having work to do even more), but in the end, you’ll get hooked on writing. You’ll be stoked looking at black words staining the blank canvas, you’ll be exhilarated knowing that your thoughts, those words you’ve carefully chosen and pieced together is being read by hundreds, maybe thousands of people everywhere. You feel like what you’re doing has meaning, it bears fruit and its a fruit so sweet and juicy, all the days you’ve spent in labour is worth it. I love writing, and every time I write, I feel like I can spend my entire life doing this. For the first time in a long while, there is clarity when it comes to the future. There is a certain sense of comfort in knowing that I will enjoy what I am doing, and I can see myself breathing life into text for the rest of my life. I’m not good at this, heck, I sometimes forget how to spell ‘disappoint’ and ‘occasion’, but there’s a warm fuzzy feeling that bubbles deep inside me every time I write-it is a feeling so complex and beautiful, I can only foolishly term as love.

Blurb: Not Today.

Today, I feel vulnerable.

Today, I feel like the light shines right through me, baring all my flaws. Today, I feel as though the stranger walking outside my door can see right past the wooden gates and into my crooked soul. Today, I feel as though every strand of my hair is out of place, and that every breath I take is an abomination to this world.

Today I feel small.

Today, you could hurt me with the delicate touch of a feather. Today, you could hurt me with the melodious ring of your laughter. Today, you could hurt me with the warmth of your love. Today, you could hurt me. Today, you would hurt me.

Today, I am not the girl who breaks down walls. Today, I build them.

Blurb: When It Happens

A heartbreak is literal. It begins with an ache in your chest, and for the first time, you hardly know it until you begin to welcome it like an old friend. Its not like how they dramatize it. Its not like a sharp stab in the thigh, or the rip of a muscle. A heart break is gradual, like a flower leaving its bloom, like the sun meeting the horizon, like life leaving earth. A heartbreak is literal.

Did your heart beat hitch in anticipation when you met her today? Did a smile appear on your face when you spotted her through the crowd? Did you lovingly whisper her name when she came within ear shot? Did your fingers find the spaces between hers? Did your hands deftly find the curvature of her spine? Did you hold her in your arms? Did you deeply inhale when you realised she hadn’t changed her shampoo? Did you habitually run your fingers through her hair? Did she tell you she loved you? Did you tell her you did too?

A heartbreak is literal. The breaths you take trying to calm your shattering heart. The furious blinks you take to will the tears away. The burning in your chest and stomach and the sickening need to retch. They’re all your heartbreaking. Because a heartbreak is literal. And when it breaks, the rest of you falls apart too.

Blurb: Conditionally Unconditonal

On the first day of Kindergarten, my dad had to physically wrestle me away from my mother. In the first few months of my Kindergarten days, I cried every single morning and ended up crying throughout the entire day till I got to see her again. She gave up her career for me, stayed home to baby me and never let me out of her sight longer than necessary. She was my first friend, and the first person I miss when I’m away from home. She loves me, more than I could ever love myself. She loves me unconditionally.

Parental love is unconditional. They’ll love you even if you had one eye, both, or with four. They’ll love you stark naked and fully clothed. They’ll love you even if it kills them, or you. They’ll love you through anything. But don’t be mistaken. Don’t take this undying, absolute love as a one way ticket. They love you, but it doesn’t mean they’ll always be proud of you. It doesn’t mean they’ll always be pleased with you. Sure, they love you, but it doesn’t mean that your actions don’t repulse them, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be embarrassed when you let out a belch at the dinner table. They’ll love you through the snot and the tears, the blood and the vomit, but don’t ever think for one second, that just because they love you, they aren’t the ones that caused them in the first place.

Blurb: Handle With Care

A bruise forms when an impact is strong enough to shatter the blood vessels beneath the surface, but not strong enough to break your skin. Its literal internal bleeding. Red blood trickles out of those damaged veins and spread themselves out under the layer of delicate, translucent epidermis. At first you don’t see it. Only an angry red mark left by a hand too willing to inflict hurt. When the pain passes, you hardly feel it anymore. The red mark now only a ghost on the skin. In fact you can only make out the vague outline of what it was if you’re looking. And even then, you’re almost sure its only a figment of your imagination. Then suddenly, one day, after you’ve forgotten about the hurt, about the pain, a purple cloud catches your eye. A deep purple cloud that reminds you of a stray rain cloud in a mile of cloudless clear sky. People say rubbing it, putting pressure on it would make you feel better, heal better. But when you ultimately find the courage to do so, it hurts. It takes you back to the time of impact. It makes you wonder about the source of impact. I say, deal with a bruise the way you deal with a heartbreak-let them be. They are more similar than you know.

Blurb: If I Love You.

I’d like to think that you’re everywhere. In the air that I breathe, the water that I sip, the trees that sway in the wind. I’d like to think that you leave parts of you behind. In the strands of my hair, in the lashes of my eyes, on the skin of my lips. I’d like to think that you’re always with me. Everywhere, you are there with me, safe in my heart.

Blurb: Burning Out

I sometimes feel like I’m a firecracker. No, do not imagine a girl with firebrick red hair and a devilish glint in her eyes. Not a spitfire, a firecracker. You know the kind that burn a little too quickly, a little too noisily and has barely any other significant function besides drawing your attention for that mere few seconds that its lit? Yup, that kind of firecracker. For that moment, I am blindingly beautiful, I steal your breath and make you believe that I’m perhaps the brightest thing you will ever see. But then as fast as I implode into sparks of brilliance, I simmer out faster than you can say goodbye. And what’s left? The little glow at the end of the road. The glow that is always shining, albeit less brilliantly, less flamboyantly, but surely, always there. That’s the difference between you and I. You’re the fluorescent bulb and I’m the spark. You’re the Chardonnay and I’m the Absolut. I’m the one they drink to forget, and you’re the one they drink because they want to remember.