Blistered Peas and Poppy Seeds

IMG_8213-2

There’s this food blog that I’ve been following for a while. It’s special, because despite all the alluring and well-taken photos, I have never once followed any recipes posted, simply because I have a hunch they won’t taste good.

But still, I follow her. Not religiously, not bookmarked and sitting on my to-read-list, but occasionally, when handsome food and beautiful writing come to mind, I fill the address bar with its name.

If words could be eaten and food could be read, this blog would make one hell of a restaurant serving it’s writing. There’s just a particularly something about the writing (the easiness?) that makes it so relatable. It turns every dish into a story and every story into a well executed dish.

It marries both of my favourite things in life—food and words—and maintains a romantic, jealousy-inducing relationship. It makes me excited about writing and ready to cook. It makes blistered peas topped with poppy seeds look, feel, taste and read like a dream.


P.S: It is so liberating to write in long, never-ending sentences that don’t have to make sense as long as they sound like they do. Writing full-time does things to your creativity and makes you lose your sense of wonder. I’m not complaining, but I’m glad to have some place where mediocre writing can be left to live it’s mundane, mediocre life. 🙂

The Right English?

You can write every day, but still miss writing. You can struggle to put thoughts into words, but still want to do it anyway. That’s me now, struggling writer, mentally blocked, physically dormant.

Throughout my years in university, I’ve changed aspirations countless times. In the beginning, without passion, it was lawyer. Then, when that unrequited love ceased it’s non-existent fire, the thought of wanting to be a writer exploded in my head and slowly seeped out through the tips of my fingers. It brought me to places. Magazines, restaurants, fashion boutiques. But when that flame sizzled, I hopped from one plausible profession to another: PR representative, advert copywriter. software developer, content strategist.

Learning is a dangerous thing. The more you learn, the more you realise you need to learn. School opened my eyes up to the things I could achieve, and the people I could be (which is also why I’m having an existential crisis now). Work made me understand that even if you know for sure that there are some things you’’ll never want to be, you will sometimes be pushed into nooks and crannies that require you to try everything. I guess that’s why people change jobs all the time and find the courage to fill in shoes they’ve never walked in before. Everybody learns, all the time. It’s pretty scary at first, but soon enough, everything will fall back into the monotonous hum-drum that we will too soon get used to. 

The company I’m working at is (technically) a US company based in Singapore, with a mainly US customer base, which is also why I’ve been forced to write in US english despite having been taught that the it was always s, not z, my entire life.  Now, I feel the pain. English spelling is very different from American spelling. I used to think that it’s just a few Zs replacing Ss here and there, but sometimes it’s also the lack of alphabets and sometimes, it’s me losing my sanity. 

Also, today, I realised I want to be your friend again. To be okay with stealing your handwriting, your ideas, without being sued for plagiarism. So, as the determined, stubborn and extremely fickle human bean that I am, I will worm my way back into your heart. Even if it means wrapping my fists round barbed wires while I’m at it. Funny how I’m the one trying to take down the wall I was hell bent on building just a few years back.

Oh, I still don’t know what I want to be in the future. I kinda feel like a 5 year old again. I guess that’s what working does to you. It pulls you away from reality (because reality stinks, and you want to escape it) and you’ll slowly find yourself falling through the clouds and the stars again. You will slowly begin to remember that you can actually be anything you dream of. 

It Was Good While it Lasted

bicycle

You weren’t my first, but you were there when I needed you most. And even though you didn’t come with brown leather seats or a wooden basket like I hope you would, I thought your mediocre looks and your unpolished frames would deter other suitors from swooping you away. I guess I was wrong.

The last time I saw you, we chastised your thin rubber wheels and your loose steering. Daniel was singing a line from a song I never knew existed, mocking the way I swerved dangerously from side to side when we were together. “I can ride my bike with no handlebars, no handlebars, no handlebars.” Later I would know that it was by the Flobots and it was one hell of an irritating tune.

You left for work with him one morning, with me holding faith that you’d shorten his morning journey by a good twenty minutes and that you’d be patiently waiting for him when he returned at dusk. Yet when he called and muttered “I can’t seem to find her.” I wasn’t very much surprised. People had warned me about how easily good rides were taken from them and a particular one had ended with the good fellow riding home with a missing leather seat just minutes after he had sought company in her beauty.

But what I cannot comprehend is why you left us with nothing to remember you with. Not a lonely wheel locked to a metal bar, nor a frame left bare without it’s tires and steers. You were gone. In your entirety. Even the fire red chain lock we purchased the same day we got you, hoping to keep you safe, was taken. Granted,  it worked more like a talisman than a shackle, but even today, we still keep the keys.

We never got to mastering the art of having you carry us both on your feather like frame, neither did I get to snap a photo of us on our last day. And even though we already set the price your future buyer would pay when we had to leave you, the good luck didn’t really work that way.  You were gone. Just like that. With nothing left for us except a hazy memory of you down the uneven bricked lanes.

P.S: Cousins, brothers and sister-in-laws, spare me the nagging and keep this from our mother/your aunt. Said bicycle will be replaced soon and she’ll be none the wiser.

1933

Photo 22-2-14 11 22 14 pmI’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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Patience

elephants

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.

DSC_0142.jpg

 

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!

The Day I Went to a Cafe

Untitled-1

I never liked cafes. It makes me uncomfortable in a way that I can never fully comprehend, almost like being trapped in a glass chamber under heavy observation. I think it has something to do with the rise of indie culture and how people in cafes are always dressed in an artificially laid-back manner that sets my skin on fire. Intentionally comfortable dressing that looks comfortable but actually isn’t. I don’t like the indie culture very much.

salad

Yet on a rainy afternoon, amongst hectic schedules and intense editorial meetings, I found myself walking into Loysel’s Toy, looking for something I wasn’t sure if I was going to find. But my shoes were wet, and my shoulders heavy. For once, the scent of fresh brew and the clinking of cutlery seemed inviting.

IMG_20130906_011009

What was I trying to look for? I don’t really know. Perhaps it’s the budding of first loves or the reconciliation of lost ones? The serenity on the faces of coffee drinkers? Or the fluster and frenzy of the servers hurriedly pulsing black liquid into the bellies of white mugs? What do you look out for when you’re sitting upon wooden chairs and eating upon wooden tables? What captures your attention and gives you a reason to stay? The food wasn’t sublime, it never is and never will be. But yet there’s a strange attraction that cafes have that keeps the seats filled and the coffee cups empty.

I don’t like cafes, but I keep going back, only to be left more confused every time.

I don’t like cafes, but I do?

There is Potential for Love

Image

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.

Ideas are Bulletproof

bulletproof1

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.

Sobered Rambles

I suggest you read this post first, because only then will you truly appreciate the entertainment this one will bring.

This morning, I thought a mediocre nights sleep sobered me up enough to attempt a humorous and moderately interesting post for this website. Boy was I wrong. Here’s what happened.

I want to confess that last night I had so much wine to drink, I had (repeated use of the exact phrase in the same sentence) absolutely no idea what I was typing when I emailed the story I was working on to my editor. I also have no recollection of what I produced last night and was thoroughly afraid of opening my mailbox to review my drunken rambles this morning. 

Lucky for me, everything turned out better than expected and I have somehow or rather concluded that I am a talented drunk writer. Except I spelt Wednesday as Wedneday and missed out the e in Patek Phillipe. 

I am also still searching for my contact lenses, which I have seemed to have removed (?! I successfully complicated a simple sentence) subconsciously and left somewhere. Exactly where (repeat again!) I do not know. 

I was obviously not very sober, and made a fool out of my usual flawless (snort) writing record. Laugh all you want, alcohol makes us feel like geniuses and act like fools — and only the best of ’em are brave enough to admit (and dissect) their mistakes after sanity is regained.