Thursday, January 31, 2019

AMPERSAND

Bukankah saya seorang berbangsa Melayu? Apabila saya menulis CV, saya mencatat bahawa saya boleh berbual dan menulis dalam bahasa Inggeris, Melayu dan juga Mandarin. Namun, jika anda boleh membaca tulisan ini, anda pun akan faham bahawa saya tidak berkebolehan untuk berbual atau menulis dalam Melayu secara lancar. Saya tidak tahu apa CV dalam bahasa Melayu pun. Apabila saya menulis dalam bahasa Inggeris, ternyata saya selesa dan berpengalaman menulis dalam bahasa Inggeris, apabila saya menulis dalam bahasa Melayu, tulisannya seperti seorang kanak-kanak berumur enam tahun. Perkataan demi perkataan, saya berfikir dalam bahasa Inggeris, dan saya fikir, apa perkataan ini dalam Melayu. Sesungguhnya saya rasa ini sesuatu yang patut dikasihan, kerana bahasa Melayu adalah bahasa yang sungguh romantis, bahasa elok untuk menulis pantun, dan saya tidak pernah menggunakannya, melainkan menggunakan bahasa pasar untuk berbual bersama keluarga saya. Adakah ini makna sebenar seorang bilingual? Saya rasa sememangnya tidak.

Am I not Malay? When I am putting together a CV, I state that I'm able to speak and write in English, Malay and also Mandarin. However, if you can read this, you'd understand that I don't have the ability to speak nor write smoothly in Malay. I don't even know what CV is in Malay. When I write in English, it is obvious I'm comfortable and experienced writing in English, when I write in Malay, the writing seems to be that of a six-year-old child's. Word by word, I think in English, and I think, what's this word in Malay. I do think this is regrettable, considering Malay is a romantic language, a language for poetry, yet I have never used it but to speak coarsely with my family members. Is this what it really means to be a bilingual? I think not.

(Also, I wrote this awkward paragraph in Malay first and then I wrote the smoother, more eloquent paragraph in English. Sigh.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

ON A GOOD NOTE

When I left Singapore, my manager wrote me a letter. It was funny 'cos Aileen always said she wasn't good with words, and as long as I was working at Lush Vivo, they always knew me as the girl who was good with words, right. But then Aileen wrote me this goodbye note, and I bawled. I think, given my strange childhood and many suckerpunches in my past, it is really hard for me to inherently believe in my worth, but when my manager who works with me and sees me on a weekly basis for a year or so, writes good things about me, I just feel good to know I'm special. I'm special, and sometimes it scares other people that I'm so different, but that's on them, and not on me. I must remember that if ever any man doesn't think I'm special or doesn't treat me like I'm special, I can do without these men. My worth is more than a man who is scared to admit and see me for what I am. This is what my manager wrote:
Dear Sarah,
I actually don't know what to write. You see, I'm terrible with goodbyes and I refuse to say goodbye. From day 1, when you were wearing a red shirt, clutching a book, undies showing (in a good way) claiming to be feminist, you already stood out amongst the crowd. Nope it's not your fluent impressive way of introducing yourself, nor your height. =) It was your kindness. Somehow I knew then and there you were a good person. There wasn't anything that changed my mind: your non-religious way, history, lifestyle, beliefs. No matter what you do or say, we just knew, you were a good person. So much so it scared some people. At first, your sincerity and kindness were doubted and I would like to apologise that I wasn't able to protect you, and you had to go through a difficult time at first. But not long after that people really saw who you really are and you started taking care of everyone, including me. I don't think there's any way that I can thank you enough for being a good friend/sister/staff/colleague. My only regret is we don't have much memories outside work (but God knows even if I turn back time we still won't have much cos we're that old and lazy to go out). Lol. Also, every time I work with you, it doesn't feel like work, just hanging out with a friend. That's why in general I don't need to hang out with you outside of Lush to consider you one of my dearest friends. I really suck at expressing my feelings but I hope you get the gist of how much you mean to me and how much I'll miss you. I pray to all Gods that they guide you while you chase your dreams in New York. I believe in you Sarah, we all do. Please do not forget us when you're a famous New York Times best-selling author. Stay in touch. Text me when you need someone to talk to. I promise to reply. Even after three months.
you. Aileen.
Damn, people always hustle me, saying they're not good with words, and then they make me cry!! I'm supposed to be the writer!!

THE ONE WHERE FRIENDSHIP HAS
EQUAL VALUE TO ROMANCE

Sarah: Maybe one day i will reconnect with him when he and i are both in better places

Tina: But I think having a hard boundary like you said is healthy. Only dating people who make you feel good is a requisite most people don't bother with when they should

Sarah: !!!!! I'm glad that i finally learned it

Tina: Do you watch wong kar wai films??

Sarah: This man compliments me, tells me he really likes me, talks through his feelings with me, tells me about his life story, and i've been settling for non-commital emotionally unavailable men for what???
Sarah: No what's up!!

Tina: awhhhhhhhh
Tina: Sarah
Tina: That's so sweet
Tina: I'm surprised you haven't! He's like PEAK Asian cinema. A lot of his films are about lost love though
Tina: What you said reminded me of one of my favorites by him called "2046"

Sarah: I'm gonna see it when i'm back in SG, looks good but i can't do lost love now when i'm grieving New York and completely knocked over and beat up
Sarah: But i do want to see it!

Tina:

Sarah: Oh geez

Tina: Yeah I don't blame you
Tina: I'm so freaking cathartic
Tina: I douse all my wounds in salt lol
Tina: but do try them when you're feeling better. most are actually set in Hong Kong though there are some bits of his films set in old Singapore I think
Tina: Bennett sounds amazing

Sarah: Okay i will and will let you know what i think!
Sarah: Bennett is a very special man

Tina: I'm glad you could find a real connection that makes you feel good

Sarah: I'm glad too
Sarah: We keep telling each other
Sarah: He says he's happy he had a perfect week with me before i leave, but i think he's sad and upset that i got the bad news a day after he actually asked me to be his girlfriend, so i think i won't be seeing him again before i leave bc it's just hard and sucks for both of us

Tina: Oooohhhhh no
Tina: Now that's salt in the wound
Tina: Well if you think that's what you need then don't see him

Sarah: Yeah i think i'm more salt than wound for now
Sarah: (shrug emoji)

Tina: God
Tina: You're romantic but like
Tina: So much more reasonable than me
Tina: Or most of my friends even lol

Sarah: Haha i dunno, i think i've been through enough bad things from my environment that i really don't wanna add on to it of my own accord, if i can help it. I really really really cross my fingers that in a couple of years or so, i will be able to be with Bennett and we will both be in better places in our lives. As a hopeless romantic, i do want this to happen.

Tina: You're so optimistic. I love it.
Tina: Obviously I didn't know you very well before you were here
Tina: But it seems like you've done a lot of important growth in just a few short months
Tina: And no matter what happens, you're prepared for it, and you're better because of it.

Sarah: I am, i am better, but to be honest also, having you around to bounce off my feelings for the past two months, i'm amazed at how you always say the things i need to make me feel so much
Sarah: 

Tina: honestly like
Tina: I just ADORE you

THE REALITY OF EXPECTATIONS

Me: it's okay, it will be okay, I will be okay
Also me: *sobs and lies in my own pool of tears for 24 hours*
Me, ever the eternal optimist: crying is good, it releases manganese in the form of tears and relieves the amount of stress and sadness I feel

ON BEING HUMAN

When I was growing up, as many millions other people would have when they were growing up, I heard the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" I think this is definitely an inspiring question, but it also feels a lot like Disney. Disney tells you that if you are a good person, then at the end of the day, good things will always happen for you. If you are a pretty princess, you will always find your prince. If you work hard enough, then you get to be what you want to be. Outside of Disney movies, it isn't so simple. You can't just be an astronaut if your country doesn't have a space program. Love doesn't magically happen and continue happily ever after. Sometimes you fall in love and they live ten thousand miles away from you. If you're born in Asia, in a conservative religious family, sometimes what is expected of you is wildly different than what is expected of a person born in America. I have many close female friends in Singapore, but across all my social circles, I have never been able to discuss female masturbation. It is a taboo, and I wonder if any girls in Singapore have close friends that they talk about it with. I wonder if I just have to increase the variety and diversity of my social circles. I was walking on Union Sq/4th Ave, and I met a homeless black man. He pointed out my Marceline boots, and then he proceeded to have a 30-minute session telling me about James Jackson and Emmett Till. James Jackson is a white supremacist who used a sword to kill a homeless African-American man two years ago, and James Jackson is on trial now. James Jackson said himself, that he feels angry when he sees black men go out with white women. When James Jackson was growing up, I wonder if anyone had asked him what he wanted to be, and I wonder if he'd thought he wanted to be a white supremacist who kills black men. In the Hamilton musical, the theme of leaving a legacy is a strong recurring one, and Alexander Hamilton never saw the legacy he left behind, he died before receiving any real recognition. In Michelle Obama's Becoming, she highlights that even though she did work hard and stayed in school and was a planner and an exceptional lawyer, and became the first black First Lady of the United States, the work had been put in generations before her own efforts had started. Her great-great grandfather had been a slave, but her grandparents worked hard, and her parents worked incredibly tirelessly, to make sure Michelle Obama and her brother got everything they needed to climb out of the South Side of Chicago. The idea of a legacy unbalances me, I don't think I want kids, especially because of climate change, and I have no idea what kind of an Earth I would be bringing my children into. My parents didn't personally see me through a steady education, which I understand, because they had me when they were eighteen. I was ten when they were twenty-eight. I'm 28, and I don't even know what I'm doing with my life right now, let alone if I had a ten-year-old kid in tow. I think, what I'm trying to say is, what I'm trying to do is, somehow allow myself to feel better. Millions of people didn't become the things they wanted to be when they grew up. Millions of people aren't doing what makes them happy. Some people are happy because they wanted to have families and be good parents, and some of them have achieved that, at least. It's not what I want. What I want is to know that I have value in the world, even if I never achieved my ambitions, and even if I don't create a path for my kids to achieve what they want. I think the problem with Disney is it teaches you to crave positive outcomes by working hard, and sometimes that's not the case. I have been a good person, and I have lived bravely. If you ask me now what I want to be, I'll tell you I want to be an American. Yet the two are mutually exclusive. Even if I don't feel I belong in the country I was born in, even if the environment is not one that encourages and supports my happiness, I want to feel like a good person, that I have done enough to be human. And I think I have. Every time you feel a fear of failure, but take a step towards overcoming that fear, I believe it makes you human. Every time something bad happens to you, but you use it to understand other people and how they have been shaped, instead of allowing it to shape the person you are, you are human. Every time you recognise your behaviors have been problematic, and you look back on them and allow yourself time and space to learn and grow instead of never facing your issues, you are human. I have done enough to be human, and I can live with that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

IN THE HEIGHTS

I've been in New York for two months now. I had an interview with Lush last week, along with several other job interviews in the past weeks, but they declined me, because of my requirement for a visa sponsorship. It makes sense, they wouldn't want to go through the hassle of paying more and going through the legal processes of hiring a foreigner to do a job that thousands of American-born citizens can do. This means that I will be leaving soon. While I've been here, I've seen people who get married to get green cards, I've seen immigrants who are quite probably undocumented and have overstayed their visas, and I wonder how they do it. I really do wonder. I've applied for everything that I'm sure I could have done, copywriting and editorial, retail and F&B businesses, fashion, everything you think I can do, I applied for. I used all descriptives that I think actually apply to me, I said I'm adaptable and a quick learner, I am hardworking and passionate, all those buzzwords but it didn't work, because I wasn't born in the right country, and also because I don't have a skill that's in demand and niche, like software engineering or coding or law or medicine. My strengths are writing about my life, and being honest. Like what can I even do with that? When I received news from both my interviewers today, I cried on the Subway trip home, and then I recalled, between two and three years ago, I sobbed uncontrollably on the train home in Singapore, and that was because I'd found out I was pregnant, and I didn't know what to do, and I felt like my life was going to end, but a lady gave me a tissue and told me, whatever it is, it was going to be alright. And it was, and it is, and it will always be. I tried my best. I told Tina, and she texted me the following.
Tina: There's a book I've read a million times about this man who is basically immortal and lives all these lives
Tina: And in the middle of the book is an "intermission" of his proverbs, advice from his long long life
Tina: And my favorite is
Tina: "Certainly the game is rigged, but don't let that stop you. If you don't bet, you can't win."
Before I received the news today, Ben (the one I used to date in Singapore) brought me to Trinity Church and we saw Alexander Hamilton's and Eliza Schuyler's graves. I had a great day with Ben, despite the fact that we started with a heavy discussion on our feelings, and how we'd hurt each other, and how it is almost impossible to stay friends with people you used to date. I am forever in awe of Lin-Manuel Miranda's portrayal of Hamilton, and the musical whose casting and lyrics seem to embody the melting pot of America as it is today, the fact that immigrants have always gotten the job done. Today, I thought about the past two months and how much I love New York. I think about having met Adam, and learning that loving a person is different from loving the idea of a person. I think about when I was changing trains last week, I was at West 4th and there was a drummer playing a song I liked (there is usually a drummer there), and I was bopping to the music while gazing into the distance, before I realised there was a guy at the opposite platform, who was looking at me and signalling thumbs up to me, and mirroring my movement and dances, and I laughed, because that sort of thing has never happened to me in Singapore. I think about having seen someone propose at Brooklyn Bridge, and how down-to-earth they had been, how there were no frills about it, and yet everyone around them felt an enormous swell in their hearts, or so it seemed to feel. I think about the dozens of independent bookstores, that stock all sorts of books, written by first-time-published authors. I think about being at the Women's March, swept up by the current of politics and doing the right thing. I think about how much I've learned and grown, well overdue, things like buying my own dishwashing liquid and sponge, and cleaning from the start to the end of the cooking process. I think about Tina, my best friend and soul sister in New York, someone who's so kindred despite having been across the world almost all our lives. And then I think about Bennett, my boyfriend.

So when I saw Adam as my "Most Compatible" recommendation on Hinge, I told a Hinge match of mine about it, because I'm clearly the kind of person who has no boundaries. His name was Bennett, and he asked if I wanted to talk about it as a friend, because he said he knew sometimes you need a friend more than anything else. We met at a diner, and I was candid about what I was feeling, because I hadn't thought about it as a date. After dinner, we walked to Grand Central Station, and then Central Park, where we saw a raccoon run across the frozen pond. We spent three dates, and the past five days learning everything about each other. He studied linguistics, as did Tina, so they both made silly jokes about linguistics to each other through me. Bennett (who goes by Ben) used to work facilitating games, so for one of our dates, we played a word game called Wordsy, which I now love, because it's really fun and I think I could be really good at it. Ben was super cute teaching me to play it, 'cos he was clearly better at it than I was, being that he's also a wordy person, and he used to facilitate games for work, right. But he was always being encouraging and telling me I was doing much better than other first-time-players, and he also commented on how well-designed games are. He says since he used to teach and facilitate kids, he needed to know how to play and lose well just enough, because obviously he shouldn't be winning all the games, to teach the kids, and it was so cute, I was like ???? We talked about our lives and Mars, and SpaceX and Elon Musk, and underwater sea creatures and the things we both hate, and I played a tiny bit of a game called Steep with his housemate Hugo, who is a huge history nerd (and looks like Paul Rust tbh). I was falling asleep and I told Ben, my sister Lyssa and I have an inside joke that annoys her and amuses me to no end, and it's that sometimes when Lyssa and I used to talk to each other in my room, I would be falling asleep, and I would try so hard to continue the conversation, but clearly my brain would be shutting down and I would have no control over what I'm even saying, and Lyssa would be like, "can you shut up and just sleep!!!!!" and I was worried I was doing the same with Ben, because we were talking about things we both hate, and I said Trump, and I feel like I was mouthing other words, but making no sense.

I know I said I wouldn't mention my dates, but Bennett really reminds me of Penn Badgley, and so I told him to watch You with me. If you don't know what You is, it's about Penn Badgley being a stalker (yet again). No matter what happens, I really am glad I've got him in my life. I told him I got rejected by Lush and am making plans to leave, and this is what he says "no way, there are definitely other jobs, you'll be fine! I've got your back :) I will do anything I can to help you" and like, this boy (younger than I am by two years), he's been very sweet, and he's either saying I'm smart or I'm pretty or I'm wonderful, and every so often, he says "hey" to get my attention, and then "I'm not gonna disappear on you, okay?" and yesterday we had a confusing day, and it ended with him asking if I wanted what we had to be a relationship, and I said yes, and he said he was in, and ???????

I don't know, I feel extremely sad at leaving New York, I love it and have had plenty of lovely memories here, and I feel I belong here, but I also feel a lot more of an adult than I used to be. I think I needed to get away from the environment that I'd been depressed in for two years, and I've gained some ground and independence, and I've tried my best, and I'm just really proud of myself for even having tried, anyway. In the Netflix series You, and in Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse that I'd just seen today, and in many other shows I've seen in my lifetime, the landscape is very often New York, and I feel so, so grateful and so humbled to have been given the chance to experience it in such an authentic way. I know which trains have stops in which neighborhoods, I know how to make connections from Queens to Brooklyn without using the Google Maps-suggested route into Manhattan. I know that you can get some decent horchata. I know which brownstones in which neighborhoods are most sought-after. I know which Subway platforms have musical performers. I know where to find rice in Trader Joe's. I know that when I take the bus, the welcome announcement says "welcome to New York" and perhaps, that was indeed the inspiration behind Taylor Swift's song. I know that people struggle here, just as they do in Singapore, and people are happy here, just as they are happy in Singapore, and that heartbreaks and job losses and families and education happen in both and in neither and in all places. I know so much, and maybe I feel I belong, but the world will always have boundaries and borders, and I'm enough of an adult to know that if I'm happy within, I will be happy anywhere, and I think I'm ready to be happy, even in Singapore. We'll see what the future holds, but for now, thank you, New York, for being the most magical and greatest city in the world, for me to become an adult.

Friday, January 25, 2019

DESIGNED TO BE DELETED

A Map of The World

One of the ancient maps of the world is heart-shaped, carefully drawn and once washed with bright colors, though the colors have faded as you might expect feelings to fade from a fragile old heart, the brown old map of a life. But feeling is indelible, and longing infinite, a starburst compass pointing in all the directions two lovers might go, a fresh breeze swelling their sails, the future uncharted, still far from the edge where the sea pours into the stars.

— Ted Kooser
Dating in this day and age is a funny thing. It is a painful thing, sometimes. I'm not quite sure if I've mentioned it here before, but I read that there are some anxieties that we face in society today that our parents would not have faced two decades ago. For example, some of us tend to perhaps overthink about what the person we are texting is feeling about us, based on whether they respond immediately, or whether they have used an emoji, or if we have been left "on read". Two decades ago, dating was much simpler. You left a call, and if the person wanted to call, they would call back. There was no such thing as being left "on read" or blue-ticked.

In the past week, I have received The Great British Bakeoff Big Book of Baking. I'd ordered it as a Christmas gift for Adam, but it arrived very late, and I don't know what to do with it. I've diligently removed him from my social media, and forcefully stopped myself from looking up his profiles, anywhere. I knew it would hurt if I saw him moving on, and I didn't want to hurt myself. I've been on first dates with three different men in the past week.

Yesterday, though, in the morning, Hinge prompted me that there was a profile they thought I would be "Most Compatible" with, and if you haven't guessed it yet, it was Adam. It's the same photos I saw when I first matched him on Tinder, more than a year ago. I took a screenshot of it and put it on Instastories, mostly asking what the Hinge algorithm uses to decide that two people were most compatible, but then came my friends' responses. They asked, why did we break up? Why don't I give him another shot? I thought y'all were good together, etc.

I didn't know what to say, so I haven't replied to any of them. What do I say? I hurt him, and he wouldn't forgive me. It was the wrong timing for us, and we're not ready. It's not up to me to call the shots? He said he didn't see us working out together? I saw someone vaping on a Juul and it made me think of him. Whenever an article about Terrace House is suggested on my Google homepage, I think, do I want to read this?

There is something to be said about loyalty. I don't know if it's loyalty, but I am extremely attached to people. When I was in Singapore, time and time again, Adam and I would take turns seeking each other out. I didn't like anyone else enough to really invest myself in them. I know some people think we didn't even spend much time physically together, but that's not how I work. I fall for somebody really quickly, I always have, and then I find ways to stay in love.

There is a reason why La La Land affects me so much, although not everybody thinks the ending is devastating. The core of what I seek in life is love. I moved to New York, largely because of Adam. I know he wasn't the be-all, end-all, but he was like, my True North, for a good chunk of my time. I think a big part of being scared of moving on, is knowing that if a person can have feelings for someone else so soon, maybe what you had with them wasn't real, and they never loved you. I don't think love is easily replaceable. Or maybe that's just me.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

AS LOVERS GO

My tattoo, it says "the fact that you're alive is a miracle", it's one of my 368 favorite lines from Hamilton. So you say, you've talked about that concept a lot, you've officiated two weddings and your whole speech was about that.

This is what you said in your speech:
Life is weird.
That seems like a good place to start. 
For the entirety of human existence, people have tried to find some great meaning or solve that ultimate riddle of why we’re here.
We’ve had poets, and artists, and the literary sort, who would tell you that meaning is all around you, in the laughter of children, the smell of rain, those moments when you’re alone and can’t help but dance. And we’ve had the great thinkers, philosophers, men of science. 
Some applied practical logic to the whole endeavour, they’d say procreation, survival of the species, or merely nothing at all. 
Some stepped back and looked at the wonder of the universe, purely awestruck by our true insignificance in the whole of the universe. Here we are on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam… that pale blue dot.
The bumper sticker industry has basically survived because no one’s really figured it out.
Life is weird.
Life is this long chaotic journey that we all are gifted to be a part of. 
There is nothing as amazing to me, as the beauty of this road we travel, where there’s no reset button, your day keeps going, you could make a left turn on a random Tuesday afternoon and spend the rest of your life wondering what Wednesday would have been like if you’d gone right.
But, I’ve always felt that there was one constant in the chaos, one thing, one answer, that’s never changed. That’s never criticized, or picked apart by the cynics.
And that’s love.
There’s a reason all good stories start with a girl.
Love has moved mountains, love has toppled empires, inspired operas, convinced me to listen to Coldplay when I was 14.
Love is some heavy stuff.
Love is finding that one person, who makes you smell the rain, hear children laughing, and want to dance uncontrollably 24/7.
That one person who makes you feel like staring down the vastness of the universe from your pale blue dot and saying, who’s insignificant now?
Love is that one person who makes you realize that you don’t care about left turns or right turns, because that left turn that one Tuesday afternoon was a small step in the path that would eventually lead you to finding that one person.
Love is the one thing that makes sense in the chaos.
Love makes life a little less weird.
Life, uh, finds a way.

The physicist Jon Osterman once spoke of Thermodynamic Miracles,
“events against odds so astronomical they're effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter…” 

To be here today with two people, whose whole lives have instilled them with every little quirk and idiosyncrasy that makes them who they are. And that somehow, in the chaos, they found each other, at the right time, the right place. And to see them here before us, so in sync, so complementary, so perfect, and so in love. 

That is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle. "For you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly.”
For one, because I am usually the one writing my rambles, it is nice to read someone else speak of love the way I would. For two, you say you're very familiar with Hamilton because you do a lot of karaoke, but you've never seen it and refuse to have an opinion till you see it, but you'd watch it with me, though. I smile again, because I usually have to ask whether someone would like to watch it, but you preempt it, which might be wise, considering it's something I like so much I have it tattooed on me.

I say, "tell me about your ex" and you say "she was too cool for me, timing was off, we were too similar, she loved Sonic Youth" and I smile again, because it's one thing to say that your ex is too cool for you and recognize that sometimes, despite the greatest of intentions, timing is everything, and for another thing, I've never listened to Sonic Youth and I'm super uncool, so there is next to no chance I will ever remind you of her.
she said, "you've gotta be crazy,
what do you take me for,
some kind of easy mark?"

you've got wits, you've got looks,
you've got passion but I swear
that you've got me all wrong,
all wrong, all wrong
but you've got me

I'll be true, I'll be useful
I'll be cavalier, I'll be yours, my dear
and I'll belong to you
if you just let me through

this is easy as lovers go

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

JOE ALWYN

When Taylor Swift started dating Joe Alwyn, they kept it lowkey and out of the public eye as best they could, and suddenly they've been together for two years. I know y'all know I don't even secretly stan Taylor so imma try do the same. Maybe if I don't mention the person I'm dating so much, it will go much better. Maybe, I don't know, there's no science to this. You either have it or you don't.

I want to stay at his apartment forever, though, it's warmer than mine, which is a thing I should probably bring up to my landlord, but we'll see how it goes. We watched the Bandersnatch episode of Black Mirror together, he loves Black Mirror as much as I do, and we watched Rick & Morty, and we watched the great horror that was the Fyre Festival crash and burn to pieces. That documentary is possibly the best example of schadenfreude, we laughed so hard at these rich people getting scammed. If anyone deserves it, these rich-ass spoilt mofos definitely did. 

He plays a game called Detroit: Become Human and he was talking me through it while playing but I fell asleep. I figure as long as I don't mention his name or what he does or where he works, it's lowkey enough, right? Lol you'll never know who it is even if you were talking to him. 

When Tina and I were in Chinatown for the march on Saturday, we were seated next to a couple on their first date and JFC, it did not pan out the way they would have wanted, I'm guessing. Tina began texting me and I swear I had to bite the inside of my mouth to keep from laughing.
Tina: They are totally on
Tina: A first date or something lol
Tina: This is an awful place for a date
Tina: Like it's not romantic at all
Tina: And it's loud
Tina: Like what lol
Tina: She's too cute for him anyway

Sarah: I thought the same!!! I was thinking oh im so glad we went to slate

Tina: "do you know what weather is"

Sarah: TINA STOP

Tina: "In Florida we have weather! It's different than the weather here"
Tina: "We also have water in Florida!"
Tina: "Oh in Japan we have water too"
Tina: oh thats weird

Sarah: Omg

Tina: "OH I HAVE TWO KIDS"

Sarah: "I forgot to mention"

Tina: "I forgot to put that in my profile" yeah billshjt

Sarah: I cant stay here any longer help

Tina: Oh god thats intense
Tina: He's really bad at this
So anyway, the guy had just gotten separated from his wife two months ago, and the moment he mentioned his kids, the conversation began spiralling even further out of his control, and when we left the cafe, I just let out all the giggles I'd been holding in.

Ben and I met as friends on Friday, we had a great time at Caveat NYC. Sometime last week, he mentioned to me that SpaceX had laid off some employees, and something about it got to me. I don't know if people think I don't wish well on guys I used to date. Joey was immature with me, but I also really do think he's good at his job, and I don't hope that any of the guys lose their jobs or whatever. Like, obviously I'll talk some shit about Adam right after we break up, but overall I would still wish him the best in his life. The only person I really give no fucks about was Grayson. He was travelling the world recruiting students for a prestigious university, and because he was a mentor/advisor of sorts, I think his credibility as an honest person factors into his work. So I have never regretted sending his compromising photos and texts to his board of administration. Fuck that guy. What a predator.

Anyway. Apparently it's the chilliest outside. It is negative 10 in Celsius/14 degrees Fahrenheit. It is literally the coldest I've been in my life. I'm not leaving this apartment. He's making us sandwiches and smoothies.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

I WANT IT
I GOT IT


Ariana Grande is all I want to be. I went on the most perfect date last night. We were at Slate NY, the most amazing place for a first date. It's a bar with a slide, a bowling alley, beer on tap, a giant connect-four board, arcade games, a foosball and ping-pong tables. It's got the works.

I didn't finish my Philly cheesesteak arepas (which were bomb, but I'm the tiniest-portion eater in the world), so he asked some guys next to us, if they wanted the one I didn't touch, and the guy loved it so much (told you it was bomb) he got us each a tequila shot, which was incredibly cool and nice of him.

We talked effortlessly for three hours. I was stunned by his chiselled cheekbones, and I could not believe my luck. Here is a man who is easy on the eyes, who has some form of brainy as well as social intelligence, and who made me laugh with his banter. We left at midnight, and it had started to snow for the first time since I've been in New York, or at least it was the first time I was seeing it.

I looked up at the sky, gaping at the snowfall, and he said I looked cute, watching the snow in wonder. It was the most perfect magical first date, and we are seeing each other again on Monday. I was telling him I'm excited to go to the Women's March here in New York tomorrow, and he told me his sister got arrested for protesting at Kavanaugh's confirmation.

It's surreal, finding someone on the same wavelength to flirt with endlessly. Maybe this is it, bitches.

(PS. there's been some anti-Semitic talk about the original Women's March cofounders, so Tina and I are going to an offshoot)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

PERSEPOLIS

Dear Sarah, I'm sorry that I didn't handle the situation very maturely. I'm sorry that when your mother found out and you fell into depression, I was not responsive. I'm sorry that I only popped up in your life when it was convenient and I missed having you physically in my life. Dear Sarah, I'm sorry I was selfish and I said I would wait for you up till the end of the year, and then I didn't really do my best at accommodating your mental health. I'm sorry that you uprooted your life and then I couldn't be there to support you through it. I'm sorry that even before you flew over, you did bring up the fact that you'd like to be friends first, so you could settle in to New York, and not have the latent effects of major life adjustments pouring into our relationship, but I said we had become too intimate, and I did not want to wait. I'm sorry that I was selfish and tried to initiate what I could not follow through. Dear Sarah, I'm sorry I befriended then used you when I was away from a loved one I'm betrothed to, without telling you, and eventually hurting you and giving you trust issues for years to come. Dear Sarah, I'm sorry I have allowed you to constantly and consistently bend and fold to the whims and fancies of men. I'm sorry that you've always felt your worth to be tied to how men perceive you. You are worthy of love. I am sorry that I have never reminded you, but you are worthy of love. You deserve a man who loves you fiercely and unabashedly. You deserve a man who makes you feel like you are worth their damn all, someone who's proud of you and proud of loving you. I'm sorry that I made concessions to all the wrong men, and I'm sorry I allowed them into your life, making you feel lower and lower about your value and self-esteem. Dear Sarah, I'm sorry and it will not happen again. Today, and every day from today, we do things for us. It is time for us to put our self-interests first, because we deserve it.

CHORIZO

There are some things that remain inexplicably vivid memories in my mind. For example, I saw the words "be brave" yesterday and I was immediately taken back to three different things at once: first, the billboard of The Man in the High Castle I saw in LA, it was screening on Amazon Prime at the time, second, I remember reading the copy of The Man in the High Castle voraciously, a copy that Joey's mom had gotten him, and third, I think of Sara Bareilles and the fact that my cousin, our friend Amy and I all danced to the song Brave in public in New Zealand. The first two have barely any connection to the last, but whenever I see the words "be brave", all three are conjured up simultaneously, and extremely strongly. I don't know why these three memories are so vivid. Perhaps because in some ways, the essence of what I was doing in all three scenarios were actual depictions of the meaning of the word "brave" and my brain wants to neon-signpost it? Maybe. Maybe not.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

WHO WILL FIGHT?

I started the day by having a video call with my best friends. It was 7 in the morning for me and they were having dinner together in Singapore. I told them all the anxiety I'd been feeling, everything that's been weighing me down or causing me to feel hollow. My three best friends listened, and they gave me a pep talk. One of them is a doctor, but she didn't get through the first time. She took a long way round to get there, and yet become a rare Malay female doctor in Singapore, she did. You could even say at this moment that that particular setback perhaps, very likely made her stronger and added to her character. I'm reading Michelle Obama's Becoming, and she failed the bar exam her first time. I mean, yeah the bar is supremely difficult, just like becoming a doctor is, but she also failed. My best friend gave me her "TED talk", she said, you don't have to feel good about it, but you have to get up. You have to get up, and go on. Get up, and go on. Get up. Get up. Get up. Also from Becoming is this anecdote, after Michelle Obama was told by her high school counselor that she wasn't Princeton material:
I’ve been lucky enough now in my life to meet all sorts of extraordinary and accomplished people—world leaders, inventors, musicians, astronauts, athletes, professors, entrepreneurs, artists and writers, pioneering doctors and researchers. Some (though not enough) of them are women. Some (though not enough) are black or of color. Some were born poor or have lived lives that to many of us would appear to have been unfairly heaped with adversity, and yet still they seem to operate as if they’ve had every advantage in the world. What I’ve learned is this: All of them have had doubters. Some continue to have roaring, stadium-sized collections of critics and naysayers who will shout I told you so at every little misstep or mistake. The noise doesn’t go away, but the most successful people I know have figured out how to live with it, to lean on the people who believe in them, and to push onward with their goals.
I walked into a building today, and I hadn't known it, but the building also housed an office for Hunter College. Lin-Manuel Miranda went to and also taught at Hunter. It reminds me that I want to go to college, eventually. I might take the long way round, but I'll get up. And go. Life is chess, not checkers. Today when I stepped into that building (not for Hunter College, not today), I received my first positive news in perhaps two weeks. I don't know if it's that, or it was letting out my deepest, darkest worries to my best friends, or it was that I dressed myself well with a proper amount of thermal wear, but today has been a most beautiful day. I walked around SoHo on the streets where the sunlight was hitting directly, and there was no wind to bite my face, there was no tightness in my lungs, struggling to breathe without pain from the cold. I felt warm from top to toe, and I walked and basked in the sun. The streets of New York are built beautifully, you cannot deny this. The buildings are well thought out, and they make sense to me. People stop and compliment me on my (Marceline) boots, a thing that happens very regularly here. I love New York, and today I was reminded why. Unlike in Singapore where people keep to themselves and sharing your thoughts is weird, here it's okay to be weird. Here, it's weird if you're not weird. It is a beautiful day, and the sun is shining, and I am in New York. I am in a cafe, eating a spanakopita, a Greek spring roll of sorts. I was first introduced to this with Han, when we were in LA the first time and couchsurfing at Nick's. Nick was probably the first Greek person we'd met. There are so many people in New York, and I am one of these people. I have gotta get up, and go on.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

WHO WILL LOVE YOU?

Days later, I was still feeling dislocated, and we were both nursing sore throats. Barack and I got into a fight—about what exactly, I can't remember. For every bit of awe we felt in Kenya, we were also tired, which led to quibbling, which led finally, for whatever reason, to rage. "I'm so angry at Barack," I wrote in my journal. "I don't think we have anything in common." My thoughts trailed off there. As a measure of my frustration, I drew a long emphatic gash across the rest of the page.

Like any newish couple, we were learning how to fight. We didn't fight often, and when we did, it was typically over petty things, a string of pent-up aggravations that surfaced usually when one or both of us got overly fatigued or stressed. But we did fight. And for better or worse, I tend to yell when I'm angry. When something sets me off, the feeling can be intensely physical, a kind of fireball running up my spine and exploding with such force that I sometimes later don't remember what I said in the moment. Barack, meanwhile, tends to remain cool and rational, his words coming in an eloquent (and therefore irritating) cascade. It's taken us time—years—to understand that this is just how each of us is built, that we are each the sum total of our respective genetic codes as well as everything installed in us by our parents and their parents before them. Over time, we have figured out how to express and overcome our irritations and occasional rage. When we fight now, it's far less dramatic, often more efficient, and always with our love for each other, no matter how strained, still in sight.

Monday, January 14, 2019

THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

My hormones in imbalance mean that my period is slightly delayed. As long as I don't get my period, my hormones stay imbalanced (unbalanced?) and I actually get more emotional. I think, well listen, Sarah, if he was unwilling to go through some of your toughest times with you, if he's not ready to take on that burden, if he's not willing to love you through the dark, he's not the one for you. Then I think again, I made him cry so loud I heard him while I walked down his apartment building. I made him feel so much he's either still angry at me as a direct result of being hurt, or he's refused to feel anything and has chosen to feel apathetic towards me. I think again, he liked reading what I wrote about him, he liked to see me post my happy stories about him, he wanted it to be a neverending cycle, but that's unrealistic. A relationship has ups and downs, it will always have ups and downs. I think of the precarious situation I am in. Adam liked being in the spotlight (when it was positive), but who's going to be okay with me writing the truth, writing my truths, for an audience my partner himself might not understand? Many people are private and even if they aren't, most people would hate for their flaws and their weak moments to be on display. Who will be comfortable with me? Do I change my truth and only post the good things, even when I know I am experiencing turmoil? Or do I just stop all of it, say neither good nor bad? I yearn to be loved, I don't understand why I am not loved unconditionally the way I love, unconditionally. I say the very same thing on Instagram, and then my friend Rai from Lush in Singapore, she says "but... I love you." I begin bawling, because the women I know are capable of loving me through so much, my friends have loved me through my anxiety and my rants and my emotional rollercoasters. They have, they honestly have. They listen to me ramble about man after man and feeling unloved, and my pride of goddesses love me fiercely and unconditionally, regardless how unstable I am. I never have to show them only my good or happy side. I just want a man who loves me like that. I want a man who accepts me and loves and doesn't get bored of me, and chooses me through it all, through everything. I wish someone could see the future and tell me, with full assurance, that there is a man like that for me. Because I am tired and I have felt like this too many times to believe anything otherwise can be true.

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

I went to see If Beale Street Could Talk. The opening scene was magical, they were in color-coordinated outfits, but not so matching that it would look intended, although of course, it was intended to be just so by the costumes department. He was wearing a denim jacket with a yellow undershirt, and she wore a yellow coat with a blue dress. It was an epic love story, and the dialogue was strong. I shipped them so hard, and it reignited my hope in love. The cinema laughed really loudly at times, despite the difficult story, the banter was so believably humorous. Still, I felt it was missing a little something. I'm not sure what, I'd heard so much hype about it and I'd expected to cry, but I didn't. Perhaps the book will make me cry. I didn't feel moved as much by the political position of the film, perhaps because I was simply too focused on their one powerful, immense love story. I had two scoops of gelato, one was cinnamon and the other peanut butter, from a coffee shop called Clever Blend. The gelato was delicious, I daresay in the top three of gelato I have had in life. I got myself a dose of sunshine. Yet, despite seeing a good film, despite eating ice-cream, I was not happy. Breaking up sucks, and trying to pretend I'm not affected is clearly whacked. We broke up because I was facing issues, I didn't have friends here, and life here is uncertain for me. In the past week or so, I've tried to convince myself that it's okay, I'm okay, we'll be okay, but of course I'm sad. I loved him for the good part of a year. When something ends, you want to blame something or someone, and yet I can't. I wanted so badly for him to be stable and strong enough for me, but he wasn't, and I cannot blame him for it. He wanted badly for me to be happy, he didn't acknowledge his feelings nor discussed them with me. I remember when I first ranted about the ass weather, about it raining my entire first weekend here, about myself hating constantly being wet and cold, he somehow took it upon himself to make me feel better. Like I thought the weather was his fault. He said he wanted everything to feel right, that I'd done the right thing by making the move to New York, and I know that's why he didn't surface any of his feelings of unease. I feel sad, because instead of being in his arms now, I have to come up with reasons why we didn't work with each other. I loved him before I ever met him. Fourteen months before we ever met, I already loved him, and to say that I'm okay, is not true and isn't right. He's not the bad guy in this story. He may not be strong enough to carry me through this, but he's not a bad guy. And that sucks. It's harder to move on when you know you inherently love someone but it can't work out. I'm feeling so many things. I'm feeling sad from the loss of a love, I'm feeling lonely and isolated, I feel a general moodiness at the weather, I'm feeling completely overwhelmed by having moved across the world. I need to connect with more people, and I want a meaningful connection. I just want to feel okay again.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

FLIPSIDE

It's been a week since this happened, but I think it's only fair that I include it here to paint a better picture of my interactions and dynamics with people I might have had altercations with. My mother sent me this text on New Year's Eve. Perhaps this has contributed to my general feeling of ease and well-being.
Hi sweetie. Its going to be 2019 over here in abt an hour. Wishing you a very happy and wonderful coming years ahead. Now I take the opportunity to say Im sorry for hurting you in the past. Never ever meant to make your life difficult or miserable. As a mother I would do the best i could for you. Just sometimes our ways might be wrong. I hope you will forgive me and will still be the good daughter you are. I love you so so much and I miss you a lot darling. I really want to hug you... And i miss your laughter
I enjoyed my first session with my therapist here, and she just checked in with me again this morning. I'm looking forward to the next session, although I'm not sure what I will talk about. I feel like I have nothing more to say at therapy! Life feels actually okay. I'm doing a year in pixels thing, where you basically record the general mood of your day, and the past four days have been a happy color for me! Everything is going well! Is this the real life???


This is an example of how the year in pixels is recorded.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

THIS AIN'T IT, CHIEF

I don't know what it is (reference to Rufus Wainwright song not intended), but I feel at ease. In years past, when things ended, I would be beating myself up and feeling like there were at least a dozen ways I could have changed my behaviors and actions to salvage whatever situation that happened to be currently crashing and burning and ending. Today, I feel massively different than those times. I think I'm slowly really reaching my center. I don't know what this center really means, and why they call it a center. Is it because you're right at the center of a metaphorical seesaw that is your mental health so it's hard to tip you off-balance, and you just remain level? Perhaps. Today, I am able to engage in a radical self-love that doesn't always occur naturally to me. I think I'm a mentally strong person, I've taken all the suckerpunches life threw at me, and I'm still intact. I'm inexplicably brave, I mean I moved away from my friends and family to this city of the great unknown and the ever-changing. Just the fact that I've taken both a life path that's foreign to the people I grew up with, and to an environment rather removed and foreign from the one I grew up in, makes me feel brave. I engage with all my feelings, and have pretty much felt everything with great intensity, including things that used to make me suicidal, and still I don't shy away from any of my feelings. I don't know what it is, whether it's my emancipation from a household that I felt restricted and depressed in for a couple of years, or whether it's really the fact that New York makes me feel at home, but I feel relieved, and I'm no longer trying to run away from nor toward anything. Today I read a quote by Lao Tzu: "If you're depressed, you're living in the past. If you're anxious, you're living in the future. If you're at peace, you're living in the present." And New York is a great place to live in the moment.

Friday, January 04, 2019

POST MORTEM

Alright, here goes. Another breakup, another round of purging. I think this is my least favorite part of a breakup. When I love someone, I sing their high praises and when the relationship ends, I have much more to look back on than what anyone else usually does. I have these thousands of words that linger in everybody's minds. Adam and I are truly over for good. I know a lot of it was my fault, but a relationship is a two-way thing and I think it failed because we are simply not meant to be together. When we were together, I harped on the good and nice things and people told me he was a keeper, and the truth is he is a good and nice man for sure, but he is not my keeper. Perhaps I held on to it longer and stronger than I should have, because we had both come up with our idealised versions of each other in the entire past year. But we did not love each other as we should have. Of course while I was dating him, I pushed him away and there were things like him asking me for 5 bucks for the stove lighter that I said my apartment was missing. To me, I feel like that doesn't seem like someone who truly understands what I'm going through and wants to help me out of it. Don't get me wrong, when I am stable and have adjusted to my environment, I don't want to depend on anyone and I would love to treat him to things but it really didn't seem like he cared that way. I didn't tell him about it, and that was my fault. I didn't love him enough to be honest and upfront with him. When it ended, it was because of a panic attack he had, he was angry at a few incidents that had happened since I arrived. It culminated in a panic attack because he did not know how to access his anger and express it to me at those points of time so, having bottled it up, it all came out at the end. Anger is not always healthy, but it is even more unhealthy when not dealt with. It's a lot of hurt and resentment that only gets worse the longer it festers. I wrote him a letter apologising and telling him I would work on myself because I think he was worth it, but he told me that all we do is drive each other crazy, that we are unhealthy for each other, and he does not want me to consider him for love. I recently found out that someone in recovery should refrain from dating in their first year of sobriety. I'm not saying he didn't treat me well in the past six months of him being sober, but there are definitely times I feel he is not in touch with his emotions, and he is not able to forgive, I feel like he might not be ready to commit to anyone. Of course I am also not quite ready but I'm willing to learn and be honest and raw with my feelings. The truth is, Adam is a truly nice and good man but is he ready to be in a relationship? Perhaps not. Am I? Maybe not, either. I love him as a person, but he deserves someone who appreciates him just as he is, and I deserve someone who appreciates me and treats me with the patience I require, someone who knows everything I've been through and commits to being by my side as I learn and grow. And neither of us loves each other that way. And that's okay. We both wish each other well, we both wish each other to find only the best people for ourselves, and that's enough. Godspeed.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

NEW YEAR'S DAY

I have just scheduled my first therapy session for Wednesday. My therapist just wished me a happy new year. Her name is Soraya, which is uncannily quite close to my previous therapist, Sonya. I really hope we click! My first therapy session of the year is on the first working day of the calendar year, I'm thrilled. I actually really like therapy. Happy 2019, you guys. I love you. Thank you for being in my life, one way or another. This is gonna be a great one. It is already the new year in Singapore, but thankfully I'm on New York time, so I still have twelve hours. I wrote down things like the past, self-doubt, overthinking, being afraid to love, trust issues, inertia, toxic relationships and a lot of other things on strips of paper and I burned them up. It's on my Instastories. I'm gonna write positive affirmations and visualisations and have them up. We've got this.