I’m not a stranger to the greying streets of Shanghai. Over the past ten years, I’ve learnt to familiarise myself with it’s hastily bricked roads and massive traffic junctions, serving as a mobile and very vocal baggage to my father’s already large entourage. So today when I found some place new to discover in this city I felt I already knew, it was pretty magical.
1933 老场坊 is an old slaughter house set awkwardly on the edge of Shanghai’s city centre. Despite the European design, it’s painted an artless shade of cream and grey that’s ready to merge into the monotonous city background. But colour aside, the slaughterhouse does have a pretty intriguing architectural setup that’ll mount scenes of cattle trotting up ramps and to their imminent deaths firmly into the forefront of your brains.
Funny enough, the building now occupies itself with the likes of fancy cafés, pretentious theatres and event agencies that draws in a crowd full of high spirits and an obvious lack of superstition. Weddings and birthday celebrations are common and despite the wintry air and eerie chill, they seem hopeful, perhaps even joyous, enveloped by a positive aura that I cannot seem to radiate.
Most of the building feels empty even though a dozen shops are holed into it’s walls, making one feel as though the attempts at trying to mask the old stench of the slaughterhouse only serves to excavate its history and elucidate.
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
After surviving the busiest September of my existence, my body has decided to collapse upon itself like a flimsy scaffolding after an episode of particularly harsh rain. The month has been filled with endless nights spent fulfilling my commitments to both work and school, with a little bit of personal fluff vying for my attention. In just September alone, I’ve conquered 4 quizzes, 3 assignments, 5 writing jobs and a wisdom tooth operation. Oh, and my brother got married.
It’s actually astonishing when you actualise your potential and realise how much you can achieve in the shortest amount of time. I feel euphoric, almost arrogant when I look back and it hits me that I’ve done more than I could ever have. It makes me want to leave everything behind (sleep especially) and sprint towards the finish line so I can feel the adrenaline of being suffocated under stress and the mental applause that rings in my ear.
Yet while the sense of accomplishment and the confidence boost still courses within my veins, I wouldn’t do it again. It’s one thing knowing how much you can achieve when you push yourself beyond your limits and actually doing that every single day. Now that I know, I look back and pat myself on the back almost parent-like, appreciating the determination and tireless nights. But wanting a repeat performance of that? I think that’ll take awhile.
My mother is most annoyed with me when I come home triumphantly waving a 75 mark test paper in the air, carrying it as though it’s a plaque of honour. I’m always contented with being moderate. I wear a smile on my face and a badge of gratification upon my chest whenever I feel as though I’ve done well enough. Not amazing, but well enough. Yet to many, enough translates into a state of perfection they can never reach.
Patience is a virtue. Life is short, but it gets shorter when you’re too caught up with achieving a level of productivity society does not appreciate. We will never be fast enough nor good enough to meet the standards of everyone. So since we won’t be achieving perfection any time soon, why not slow down a little and take things in our stride? We’ll get to being enough one day, but this journey isn’t a race so take your time to enjoy the road. It makes finding the best of you a little more interesting and a whole lot easier.
P.S: I am trying to create a page where I can share images unabashedly with you guys, but I’m still working on it. It’ll be up soon!
Sitting in a corner of Coffee Bean shivering to my icy death on a painfully uninspiring Thursday evening, a text from a long-time friend makes me realise that the elusive love we spend our entire lives looking for are actually seeds sown in the ground and waiting to bloom.
There is potential for love everywhere. A slight liking towards a new friend, a flush that blossoms on your cheeks when he calls out your name to say good morning along the hallway, the slight touch of an attractive stranger when he shuffles restlessly in his seat. Perhaps we’re all too blind from the lists we have subconsciously constructed from the people we would like to have in our lives to notice the ones that actually are.
While we’re constantly searching for the coifs of perfectly gelled hair and rolled jeans that leave a perfect amount of his ankles exposed, we miss out on the things we wanted in the first place altogether. We push away inklings of love, the could haves and the would haves, in search of what reality tells us to be the perfect relationship. The healthy one.
And while we put on veils, masks and a wonderfully set up disguise, we miss out on the ones who love us for we who are underneath. We miss the ones who internally acknowledge the relentless efforts we put into making ourselves perfect yet love us blemished, crumbled and crushed anyway.
The other day we were at Starbucks, you picked up a magazine and leafed through it absentmindedly, periodically stopping to take a sip out of the Hojicha Latte set upon the table, equidistance from you and me. When the swishing of pages paused for a little too long, I barely noticed, until I felt the uneasiness of your eyes boring holes through the book I was holding.
“Is this your article? Oh my god, it’s your name! In a legit magazine. In Starbucks!”
“Yeap, that’s me.” I quipped before snatching it over to snap a photo for my mother who’s still hung up over my drop out from Law School. “What is that.” She cooly replied.
I want to be big in the industry. Big, as in you’ll be saying my name in hushed whispers big. Big, as in you’ll be envious of my life spent living aflutter and be jealous enough to leave spiteful comments on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Big, as in big enough to pick up a random magazine on the news stands and either find my name in the mast head or as reference in a feature.
The sad news is? I’m still frightened. Frightened of the gargantuan figures in the industry, of the interviews I have to attend and the small talk I have to make. I am inferior of the way I talk, the way I laugh and the way I hold my wine goblet when a toast is proposed. I hide behind my laptop, behind the false sense of security it provides me, pushing out words I carefully compose and artfully string into a melody.
The sad news is? I’m not there yet. Not near, nowhere close. But it’s okay, because sometimes it’s fear that sets the heart ablaze and lights up the long winding road ahead. And I’m alright with that.
Some day, I will be great.
“Don’t worry, you’ll blend in really soon just like in high school.”
“Ya, that took me six years.”
I feel like a kid waiting for midnight so the magic can begin—knowing very well that eventually, the clock will strike 12, but still remain tortured by its final countdown. School’s been great, it’s just easier to feel lonely amongst people who’ve already found their place you know? And despite being lost around campus, having to battle long train rides and experiencing loads of laughter, there are still pockets of emptiness that’s patiently waiting to be filled. By what I’m not sure, but so far, loneliness seems to have been calling it home.
The feeling of familiarity has been so misunderstood—perhaps we only see its value when everything seems alien and strange. I don’t like change, and my patience and hopefulness in welcoming familiarity is running out. I know the feeling I’m looking for will come soon enough, but this time, the wait seems unnaturally long.
A few months ago, my life spiralled out of control. And as quickly as I rose to what some people may consider the pinnacle of academic success, it took me just as fast to tumble back down. But I am glad to announce that I’m back in school. 🙂
These few months have really been a journey for me. Law School drop out (LSD) turned amateur writer, I had to pick myself up and brush off the dust from my mighty fall, apply for various jobs and finally walk out of the nights I would spend burning mindlessly through readings I did not understand and days in which I would end drowning in my own tears. Its not easy walking out of your comfort zone (when has it ever been?), definitely not easy having to pursue your passion when your skills don’t back you up, and worst of all (applies to me only lah), having to experience a change of environment over and over again.
Its my second day at school, and although I’m not quite close to being happy again, I think I will be soon. I can feel opportunities bashfully hiding in corners of my lecture halls, and seedlings of comfort eagerly awaiting blossom. I cannot say I feel right here, but I think I will feel that way soon. At least I hope I will—and that’s a great start.
P.S: I’m the new food writer for Poached Magazine, so show me some love when you spot my reviews!
There will come one day where you will forget the sound of keys chattering beneath your fingers, the feeling of fullness when words fill you up, the satisfaction of seeing black ink on blank canvas. There will come one day where you cannot remember how, what or why. There will come one day where you hit rock bottom and have to start all over again. And what will come as a surprise is that you’ll actually feel okay.
Letting go of everything that keeps you anchored is scary. It is more than scary. It is frightening, petrifying. It is the first time someone took away your safety blanket. But letting go of everything that validates you also makes you hungry. It is a kind of hunger that reeks of desperation, and desperation is a good thing. It makes you want to learn, it makes you want to lap up knowledge like a starving stray cat. It lets you put yourself out there with zero remuneration, it humbles you, liberates you and reminds you that as much as you are something, you are also nothing.
It is okay to start over. It is okay to leave things unfinished and start brand new even if it means you spend week after week wallowing in tears, hopelessness and unworthiness. Because when they begin fade away, you are fearless, famished and so much better than you ever were.
One day you will realise that the infallible will fail you. And when that one day comes, you will want to burrow deeper into the depths of your duvets and never ever emerge again.
Happy Sunday to you.
Unlock that last door. Open up fully and truly. Put the key into the hole and turn it. Invite me inside. I’ll wipe my feet on the rug and hang my coat on the rack and settle in, snug by the fire. I’m not going anywhere. Unlike others who may have been here, I’m not going to break anything or hurt you. I am here to love what I find. That’s all.
Read more: http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/let-me-in/