Ideas are Bulletproof


School makes you appreciate the lesser things in life — like showering at absurd times of the day and seeking refuge from the scorching sun beneath the comfort of your blankets and artificially chilled air.

I just spent the afternoon curled up in the fetal position on fresh bedsheets when I should have been halfway across the island, stiffly sat upon a lecture chair fighting sleep. I tell myself sacrifices have to be made in order to retain whatever’s left of my sanity on a stuffy Monday morning and guiltlessly enjoyed my midday nap. A 10 hour work day is way too intense for the second week of school.

While waiting for the train in the sweltering heat and mindlessly scrolling through my Tumblr feed, I realised we fall in love with the idea of things like a moth helplessly attracted to a burning flame. We repost images we see online of people we’ve never met and rolls of cigarettes we’ve never really tasted. We fall in love with the simplicity of an image and the endless possibilities of perfection it brings. Flowers that never have to wither, balloons that rise without limit and love that’s captured infinitely in the summer.

I once asked why he never bought me flowers, insisting that I was being denied the one thing I truly loved and brought me immeasurable happiness. (Peonies particularly. Others not so.) In return, I was told what I loved was the idea of receiving and not the actual act. That I fell in love with the images of bouquets with the pastel hues against the flushed skin, the smiles and joyous laughter I was conditioned to expect when I held a stalk between my hands. In reality, I wouldn’t know what to do with them the moment the excitement faded. I would trouble with where and how to dispose of them, I would fret when they gradually lost their elegant disposition.

We fall in love with the idea of things because we can’t help it. Because things are always so covetable, so beautiful, so flawless when we only see them in a two dimensional world. We replay scenarios in our heads, convinced that we’re irrevocably smittened, until one day ideas become reality and we begin to grasp the unfathomable knowledge of why and how ideas are and will always be better kept in fantasy.

I Will Be Great

giraffe 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.

To New Beginnings

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.

Too Close For Comfort

Sometimes I wish everything were easier. That toothpaste magically capped themselves back after use and that tissue boxes never emptied. Sometimes I wish everything were easier. That hearts didn’t get broken and friendships never faded away. Sometimes I wish everything were easier. Maybe sometimes, more than sometimes. Every moment, I wish things got easier.

I can still hear the familiar tone of your laughter reverberating in my ear. The high pitched, semi laugh-semi giggle that erupts from your tiny frame whenever you’re amused. I remember how you used to lie on my shoulder and tell me your darkest secrets, as though my reputation as the class loud mouth were nothing but a lie, and that you were able to see through the layers of my shell and into my loyal tightlipped core. There is a photo of us on the corkboard hanging on my wall. The one where our hair was still short and your head was so close to mine we could pass of as Siamese twins. The one where we were both lying on the table, the one where we were both smiling like we had everything we wanted in the world right next to us. The one where we were actually happy together.

But like to every happy thing that happens in life, something happened. Oh wait. I’m wrong. Nothing happened. There was no spark between us anymore. For some reason, you stopped running to me with the latest gossip, murmuring excitedly about so-and-so who was attached to so-and-so.  For some reason, you stopped exchanging you-know-what-I’m-thinking glances with me when our gawdy looking literature teacher walked into the classroom. For some reason, you stopped wanting to curl up by my side and lay quietly as though my breaths were your favourite melody and my shampoo your favourite scent.

I miss you. I miss the way I was unguarded when I was your friend. The way I can probably never be now. I wish things could go back to the way they were, I wish we never grew up. I wish things could be so much easier such that when I look at your Twitter timeline, I could will myself into believing I was there with you during every update.

Life is difficult. Life is too difficult. You live everyday wishing you were dead, and you slowly die every day wishing you were more alive. Perhaps I don’t even miss us being friends. Perhaps you just happened to be the catalyst in putting together all the negative thoughts and broken relationships. Perhaps viewing your timeline on Twitter just served to make all the feelings of worthlessness, of loneliness, of utmost helplessness collide. Perhaps it was just time for me to realize that things were getting too complicated. That life, this jumbled mess we call life, is too difficult to ever figure out. That we are all just tiny specks of dust scrambling to discover the meaning of life, only to realize that this is a question with no answer.

I wish things were easier. Everyday.

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.

Courage and Faux Bravery

I smell like cologne. Like man cologne. And there are 4 new bruises on my hands and probably a few more on my legs. I am in the office with unwashed hair tied high on my head into a ponytail and a churning in my stomach because my colleague is talking about the delicious Bak Kut Teh she wants to have for lunch. But more importantly, I am trying very hard to recall the spark of brilliance I had last night which I vividly remember hastily typing into my phone but has obviously vanished in a puff of smoke. (Much like my sanity) The only thing I can remember is the title I so wittily chose for that epiphanous moment and am reminded that I wanted to talk about bravery.

I am afraid of many things-beetles, lizards, capsicums, oily hair, dry hair, being forgotten, making new friends, losing old friends… If I made it my personal conquest to collate them all, the list would probably take its place on the Guinness book of world records for being the longest scroll ever. On a scale of 1 to 10, I probably place myself between a 2 and a 2.5. Courage the cowardly dog would be so proud of me. It’s hard to tell that behind the gungho façade and the daredevil image, I actually am a piece of silken tofu inside. I, like anybody, get queasy before a rollercoaster ride and try to conjure up a million lame excuses in an attempt to avoid getting on it (even though I suggested it in the first place). I, like anybody, feel like my heart is about to escape from my mouth before I address a crowd way too large for comfort (even though I clambered and clawed my way to that position). I, like anybody, feel like my legs are reduced to jelly when looking down from a height over 4 stories tall (even though I willingly climbed up there in the first place). This is also possibly how the epiphany came to me last night. Even when we’re not brave enough, pretending to be fearless sometimes help make us that little bit more courageous. Note my attempts at faux bravery in the parentheses above.

Faux bravery AKA pretending-you-are-completely-unfazed-when-you-are-actually-scared-shitless is an art. It is like jumping into the deep end of the pool before you’ve even learnt to swim. I like to think of it as letting my heart grab hold of the steering wheel while my brain has been dumbed down by either too much fear or too much alcohol. But hey, the good news is that while pretending to be brave, you actually do become a lion, or get a lion’s heart in exchange at least. Feigning bravery often means you end up doing the things you would never have done in the first place, thus making you that much  bolder. Try having to exterminate a flying roach because you have a younger sibling cowering behind you in fear. You have no choice, so take a deep breath, mumble words of comfort (which probably is meant for yourself rather than for your baby sister) and pretend that that thumb-sized pest isn’t your greatest nightmare. When you’ve won that epic battle between man and insect, pat yourself on the back and throw your arms up in victory. You’ve just faced your biggest fear and survived. You’ve also become the most courageous person to have ever graced this planet, because courage isn’t about being fearless. It is about being able to face your bête noir.

However, there are times you have to come to terms with the fact that there are some phobias you cannot overcome and likewise, there are some fears you cannot face. But we will soon come to realize that being able to accept that truth is in fact an act of bravura as well. Therefore, I shall continue to stare at that daunting green stalk of asparagus and calmly convince myself that I, being so brave and valiant, will acknowledge the fact that I cannot and will never be able to stomach such a repulsive vegetable, give myself a reaffirming nod and walk away triumphant and proud.