Self Sufficient

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Placing your faith in someone else can be devastating sometimes. Rather than wait for roses to be delivered, why not grow them yourself?

I’m a failure with water colour in real life so I thought I’d try out digital painting. Funny how everything looks oriental when I touch it. Not bad for a first try I guess. Please pardon the lack of a proper post, writing can be pretty damn damaging to the soul and I kinda like having mine intact for the time being.

Patience

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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.

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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!

There is Potential for Love

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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.

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.

I’m Looking For You

“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.

Goodbye, Goodnight.

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.

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.

Shapeless Existence

The most important things in life sometimes don’t exist. Love, friendship, happiness, courage, faith –they don’t come in solid, tangible forms. You don’t see them take shape, you don’t feel their weight when you pack them into duffel bags prior to your next great adventure, you don’t smell, see or feel their soft furry edges. You feel like they don’t exist, that they’re a figment of your imagination, a puzzle piece from one of your wildest dreams. A formless, cloudy mess that you never know whether really is there.

There’s a guava sitting on my work desk, a gift from my colleague to my mother. Its not just any guava mind you, it’s a Thai guava, lovingly marinated and preserved till a stunning shade of jade green. It may look like any other guava, it may smell like any other guava, it may taste like any other guava, but this is definitely no ordinary guava. There is also a wooden chopstick sticking out of the guava because my colleague wanted to make it look like a Toffee Apple. This is one lucky guava disguised as a Toffee Apple. One lucky guava.

When my mother gets the guava, she’s gonna hold it and say “Wow, this is one heavy guava.” But what she will fail to notice is that the guava is probably a lot heavier than what it weighs. She will put it on the kitchen counter and hear it hit the wooden surface with a significant thud. “Wow, this is one heavy guava.” she’s going to exclaim again, once again failing to notice that it would perhaps made a louder thud, a deeper thud, if only she was willing to listen. She will never know that within the guava bears the weight of someone’s thoughts, of someone’s love. That’s why the guava hit the table with a significant thud instead of a silent mew. That’s why when she held it in her hands, it sunk into the flesh of her palms and stained her with the concern of someone else.

When my mother slices the guava, she’s gonna cut it and say “Wow, this is one amazing smelling guava.” But what she will fail to notice is that the guava probably smells a lot better than what she perceives. She will put it on a plate and feel herself salivate from its aroma. “Wow, this is one amazing smelling guava.” she’s going to exclaim again as she contemplates finishing the fruit in its entirety, forgetting to save some for me. But what she will fail to notice is how, with every slice, the scent of someone’s love permeates every nook and cranny in the room, filling up the spaces between the refrigerator and the kitchen cabinet, filling the spaces between her lashes and filling the spaces between her teeth. That with every breath she takes, she inhales the love of someone else, letting it seep into the veins beneath her skin, seeping into her.

The most important things in life sometimes don’t exist. You feel them filling up the cemented floors and whitewashed floors, you feel them seeping through the cuticles of your skin, you feel them escaping from the pores on your palms and you feel them bursting from every beat of your heart. But you never know for sure if they exist, unless you happen to receive a very green guava on your daughter’s last day of work. Maybe then you can try to feel the weight of someone’s love and the scent of their concern.

Recipe For Perfection

I love to cook. Okay, maybe love is an understatement. I love watching beef brown in a pan, love hearing the sizzle when a shank hits the grill, love the feel of fresh herbs when you pluck them from your garden and the residual smell of Dill on my hands. Cooking is like free falling for me. I think of a dish (or an ingredient) I would like to make, type in a few keywords into the all-knowing Google search bar and its all instinct from there. I wish I could give you a better description, but recipes speak to me. I just know when I’ve found the perfect recipe, even if they include ingredients like Saffron (that, for your information costs about USD$3/gram) and Heirloom tomatoes (impossible to find).

Just yesterday, I was sifting through recipes during work and trying to stealthily prevent my colleagues from discovering pictures of mouthwatering chicken stews waving to them on my computer screen, and I happened to chance upon Cat Cora’s (First ever female iron chef, mother, pretty woman and every feminist chef’s dream come true) chicken stew recipe. At first I was like woah woah woah, this is a must make. Even if it calls for half a bottle of white wine. (You should know that I have had minor accidents in the kitchen while handling alcohol. Some include getting high near an open flame while trying to finish up the left over red from my beef stew and almost lighting my kitchen on fire while attempting to flambé quails in Cognac.) Actually, cooking is easy, if you’re able to follow instructions and pick out the right recipes, you should have no problem whipping up something moderately palatable. But I guess to me, cooking really is about experimenting. Back to the Cat Cora story. So I bookmarked that page and got ready to choose a bottle of cheap white from my cellar and suddenly I felt odd about Cat Cora. No, not the chef herself. To be honest, I am deathly afraid of her actually. The way she yells at people on Iron Chef? No thank you. When the right recipe finds you, you’re supposed to be smiling. Whether or not there are pictures of the final dish on the site, whether or not there are a million reviews raving about how it’s a 5 billion star recipe (true story), whether or not it came from a site like food.com or some dubious place like nytimes.com (the chicken stew recipe that ultimately spoke to me came from here. No joke.). The perfect recipe makes you feel like the dish is going to be a hit, even with your grumpy aunt who seems to hate all cuisine and all meat types. Its supposed to make your tummy rumble even before you’ve gone down to the grocer to get your ingredients. Its supposed to make you want to match it gram for gram, salt grain for salt grain so you don’t mess up.

Key word: Supposed. Because when I cook, I never follow the recipe. I mean I do to a certain extent. I add sage into the minced pork because the recipe said so, just that I add the entire pack instead of the recommended amount of 2 tablespoons. I add laughter, I add love, I add a broken pepper grinder to the recipe, even when not required. Sometimes I add tears, I add heartbreak and a dash of determination to live a little better. There will never be a perfect recipe, only recipes that speak to you and tell you “Hey, you might want to give me a try.” Just like how in life, people may hand you recipes that, tried and proven, is the route to a perfect life. But only you will know how much disappointment, pain and sorrow, how much happiness, joy and laughter you have to put in it to make it YOUR perfect life. You. Cooking is about finding out what you want. There will never be too much salt in a dish, just someone with too low a tolerance.

Ashes To Dust

Coughing with a lozenge in your mouth is a bad idea. Tilting your backward to cough with a lozenge in your mouth is a worse idea. The slippery bugger keeps trying to make its way into the back of your throat and nestle in the depths of your esophagus. Not a good idea. Then again, coughing alone is a terrible idea itself.

In spite of the cough, the dizziness from wearing coloured contacts and it being another Tuesday at work, I am in high spirits. Perhaps it is due to the seventh lozenge I am consuming this delightful morning (in addition to the 7 tablespoonfuls of cough syrup I had after breakfast) that is making me a little lightheaded and ridiculously easily tickled by everything my colleague is saying, or perhaps it is due to the fact that I have come to terms with what seems like my biggest fear in my dramatic teenage life – losing people.

Just this morning while on my way to work, I was autopiloting, watching the trees morph into a huddled mess outside the car window and lamenting about how lucky my pet rabbit was while my conscious mind thought of the friends I used to have, and those I now have left. There are about a million and four ways how people can vanish from your lives. Some, you can pinpoint the exact moment you knew they were slipping away through the gaps between your fingers. Others just happen to vanish, like how you know you remembered your dream just seconds before, yet you have zero recollection of it the next.

I choose to believe that its no one’s fault. That when tea dates which used to last hours, filled with the sounds of clinking teacups, our boisterous laughter and incessant chatter are now empty staring sessions where we try to color the silent void with meaningless bits of information which we already know. “So…how’s the army?” “Same old same old, we had physical training yesterday and I almost died running. Improving though, I am now inching my way to Silver instead of a Fail.” “Yeah, I knew that you told me the last time we met remember?” “…Oh yeah.” “…”But I guess awkward tea sessions are way better than no awkward tea sessions because we’re both still trying right? As much as a cup of Earl Grey and a few butter cookies isn’t going to transform our relationship back into its old comfortable state, it means we both miss us. And perhaps that’s the best funeral for a friendship that is slowly fading away.

I am still using the bottle you gave me for my last birthday, the one you hand drew my crazy ass smiling face and my Chinese surname on it. I still open our group conversation every day and regret the times I muted the updates. I still have the friendship band we bought together on our night coffee dates of Caramel Ice Blend from Coffee Bean. I still keep all of you in my heart and as much as I would like to try to mend what seems like cracks in our relationships, sometimes things are better this way. People are more likely to be careful when they handle delicate things, they make sure they don’t make a wrong move, one wrong step. They make sure they don’t tilt their heads back to cough when they have a lozenge in their mouth, for fear friendship slips away like that slippery candy down their throats and into nothingness.