Friday, June 18, 2021


I think I'd just said yesterday that I hadn't had any time to do anything for myself this week. Today, one of my babies from work, Megan, recommended that I read Normal People by Sally Rooney, before watching the TV series adaptation of it. I think Adam has once also asked me to read it, if I recall correctly. I may ask him one day, but today is not that day. Anyway, Megan sent me the e-book so I began reading it on my Kindle. Megan told me she'd thought I would like it because it is a twisted, sad book and she thinks I would appreciate the sad twistedness. I haven't finished it, but I already feel many things about it. My Kindle says I'm 59% through it, meaning it is a fairly short book, because I've only spent maybe four hours reading it, after I ended work.

Normal People is about two hurt people who grow through stages of their lives in their relationship to and with each other. I haven't gotten to the big reveal(s), but I'm guessing there must have been some tragic, traumatic event in each of their lives, there are allusions to such experiences. They keep misunderstanding each other, and making excuses for not having long, honest conversations. In one of them, Marianne thinks Connell is suggesting that they each see other people, which Marianne takes as him asking for a breakup (because, obviously, right?), but in Connell's head, he needed to move back to their hometown as he's from a poorer background and he thinks Marianne would want a richer, more stable partner, someone from "her station in life." 

I had to take a break from reading the book because Connell has found someone else and told Marianne that he loves the woman, and he had not mentioned the courtship to Marianne at all, even though they are supposed best friends. This leads to Marianne breaking down in front of him, before asking him to leave. I don't think I'm doing the book any justice, but I'm very overwhelmed by the feelings I'm getting from it. The way the book is written reminds me of my relationship (what a weird term to call it, a relationship, but I use it to mean our relations with each other, whenever it exists) with Joey. The story is written whenever the two protagonists have major interactions, so it could be days or weeks or months until the next time they are friends, or are lovers, or bump into each other again. 

The last time I spoke to him, he also told me out of nowhere, that it was "self-destructive" (I don't know which of us he even meant??) and that he was getting together with a woman he loved. This made me furious and embarrassed and furiously embarrassed. How was I to know?? I don't see him in real life and have no clue what goes on. It reminds me of the many times we've managed to embarrass and infuriate each other, even though I think, deep underneath it all, neither of us intends to and all we want is to see each other happy. 

It makes me think of when I was with him, and it was two weeks into us knowing each other, and I knew I was already having strong feelings for him. Then he ghosted me, and I realised he was overwhelmed by how quickly I was catching feelings. This upset me and made me cry, but then eventually, we talked again and he taught me to drive his car in a parking lot, and another one of my hosts said Joey must like me, men only teach things to women they like, and to this day, his car is the only car I've driven in my life. He spends a lot of time with me, watching people get tattooed and working on cars and watching movies till we fell asleep. In fact I lived in his room so it would have been impossible not to spend time with me, until he brings up the fact that he's been in a long-distance relationship before. I'd already known from experience that he didn't like to rush things, so I ignored the comment, even though I had to leave very soon, back to Singapore.

When I am back in Singapore, I find out I am pregnant, and I feel about thirty actual separate emotions, all at 84% intensity. He talks me through it and obviously leaves the decision to me, although both of us are shit-fucking-scared. I eventually have a miscarriage, and I am so traumatised I tell him to leave me alone, and I block him everywhere (I also send him how the miscarriage looks, just so he knows, and I'm sure he remembers). After I have blocked him, I go through my depressive episodes and battles with my mother, who for some misplaced "religious" reasons, thinks it's a blessing I'd miscarried. I intermittently feel angry at Joey, that I have to go through all hell and high water by myself, when it was as much his mistake as mine. Newsflash: it takes one person to produce the egg and the other to provide sperm. I write emotionally-charged words and direct it all at him, feeling very mistreated. This happened even though I'd explicitly told him to leave me alone. Every time I think of how much I paid for therapy, I get sucker-punched and think Joey should have had to foot half the bills, and the worst part is, he can fucking well afford it, rocket scientist that he is, while I struggled and continue to struggle on less-than-minimum wage.

In the next three to four years, one of us reaches out to the other. I do not know why. I remember writing something very close to this, once: “I’m sorry for what you had to go through because of me. I promise to do better. I love you.” I never sent it. I think it's what I want to hear, as much as what I want to say. I never understood sometimes, when he approaches or reaches out to me, when it's a bank holiday weekend, he seems to want to be affectionate, and he insinuates that there is nothing going on in his life, and then, out of nowhere, he'd push me away, again. It made no sense, and still makes no fucking sense to me. 

Normal People feels like a story written about two damaged people in an unhealthy relationship, trying so hard to be good and fix things, but have never known how to do so. It reminds me of myself and Joey, and it also makes me wonder, how many people are out there, living such unhealthy dynamics, trying so hard to be normal people? The fact that it's a popular, well-read book makes me think, hmmmm, this doesn't feel like it is that uncommon. What a sad notion! I don't know why I wrote all that, it's just, the book feels like I could've written it, and I have many feelings, and I hope I don't get let down by it. I don't even know what I expect from it, but I want their backstories to be enough, to explain why they don't do better, for themselves and each other. Okbye.

Thursday, June 17, 2021


It’s a mighty hot day in Singapore. It’s always mighty hot days in Singapore. I never used to be someone who enjoys the cold, but I truly look forward to the Vancouver/PNW climate. With climate change, the weather there shouldn’t be as cold, most of the time. Terrible for the world, quite alright for me. I’ve had and am having a busy week, haven’t had time to meditate or do anything for myself. The first dose of the vaccine went much better than expected, though, the syringe and the nurse were great, I barely felt anything. I’ve been working at both my jobs for the last four days, right after the jab. It was a little sore to move my arm, but otherwise, I look forward to getting the second one over and done with, and being fully vaccinated. At least, to whatever variant it’s resistant to, so far.

Last night, while falling asleep, I was feeling extremely nostalgic for times past. I thought about the times I fell in love in the US, on each coast. There was a time Joey drove us back from Malibu at night, and there were so many stars in the sky, and the song Yellow was playing in my head. I had my hand on his, while he was holding the clutch (it was a stick-shift racecar), I didn’t know if that was okay but I mean, he’s a very chill guy, I think most of the time he’d be like “okay I’m just gonna let this girl do whatever she wants” so I just tried my luck, hahahahahah. One time, we were in a store that sold motorbike/riding stuff, before we got coffee, and that was within the first 28 days of us even being aware of each other’s existence in the world. I went around, exploring the store, because it was different than what I was used to in Singapore, but I was always observing him, too. Whatever he picked up, there was a mental register in my head, noting what he liked, what interested him, and what didn’t. 

Two thousand eight hundred miles away, two years later, I observed Ben playing video games with his housemate. I watched him cuddle with the cat, listened to him talk about his grandparents and his Kindle. I saw him in his kitchen, making food and telling me the things he could cook, the things he was learning to cook. He brought me to an open square, where skater boys were, well, skating, and I picked up on his political leanings, a year or so before I would lean into them myself. We played word games, and he thrashed me at them, before he eased off a bit so I wouldn’t feel too bad, insisting that he wasn’t doing so, and then assuring me that he was really good because he works with games (valid point, of course, but I know when people are smarter than I am). Every time someone mentions Central Park, I think of our first kiss there, on a bench, overlooking a frozen pond. Every time. 

I’ve been in love twice in my life, and I cling to them, because it is what I know. I don’t know what’s coming in future, I cannot tell how fast climate change will happen. I do not know the pressing urgency of rising sea levels, of sinking nations. I don’t know what lies in my immediate future, besides studying, and making friends with people a decade younger than I am, and doing well in my studies. I see myself going out into nature and getting dirty and happy and calm. I do not know when I will next fall in love, so sometimes I just think backwards and I smile and am content for what has been.

Thursday, June 10, 2021


I’ve finally got my appointments booked for my vaccinations. I don’t like physical pain and I’m quite a wimp when it comes to jabs. My first appointment is this Sunday morning and my brain is already in overdrive. I know why the thought of jabs makes me queasy and anxious. It’s ‘cos my veins are apparently narrow, so whenever I’ve had to have my blood drawn, the nurse has always managed to fuck it up, and would then have to repeat the process at another site on my body. This repeated poking and prodding has made me wary of health-related needles. It’s also the reason I’m not even able to donate blood, jeez. The health workers have told me that the amount of bruising I would get for the amount of blood they could obtain from me is not worth it. Hahahahahaha, what the fuck. It’s funny because I’m not tremendously affected by ornamental piercings nor tattoo needles, so I suppose it really is all in the head. 

Today the thought that formulated in my head was how there has been an imbalance of affection in my life so far. I suppose some people have loved me more than I loved them (my first boyfriend, for example), and then I have loved some people more than they’ve ever felt for me (this is probably Joey and Ben K), and I sure hope to whatever fucking stone in the universe, that I will find someone I love equally as much as they love me. I’m not sure why this thought formulated but then I’m not sure why any of my thoughts are formed anyway.

A few days ago, I had someone stay over at my family’s apartment, because she was unsafe at her own. I can’t say who it is because other people aren’t supposed to know. My sisters and I stayed up with her and watched a movie together, and then she slept in my room, on my queen-sized bed with me. I like this person, I think she’s chill and cool and we can vibe alright, but I obviously don’t often get people sleeping next to me in the same bed, with the exception of any of my sisters. I remember feeling a little awkward, and not sleeping too deeply the entire night. I know this because I usually toss and turn and grind my teeth at night, but that night every time I stirred I was still lying on my back, and my jaw had still been relaxed. It reminded me of the time I slept in my Couchsurfing host’s bed (his name was Dustin) at his place on Redondo Beach or whatever, and this only happened because I’d been scared by an experience in the other bedroom he’d let me sleep in and I begged him to let me in. It was awkward as fuck, we did nothing that night. I stared up at the bedroom ceiling and I kept wondering if he thought I was the weirdest ever person he’d ever met. 

This leads me to another story. That night at Dustin’s place, I had washed up and was ready to sleep, but the bed was adjacent to a wardrobe that had mirrors on its sliding doors. So I’m looking at myself in the mirror while lying on my side, and I hear a knocking sound behind me. It sounds like a knock on the window, so naturally that’s what I think it is, right? I turn around, but then there’s no knocking. I move the blinds to check for birds or the branches of a tree, whatever that could have made a knock, but there’s nothing. So I go back to bed, look in the mirror. The knock happens again. I turn around, and it stops again. I dial my sister on FaceTime, and this is when I start getting really freaked out, because it wouldn’t go through even though my Wi-Fi connection was strong. I’d been calling my sister with no problems for the past month, so this really gets to me. It is 1am and I cannot call my sister. I text Dustin, asking if he’s pranking me with the knocking and he says he wasn’t. Then I ask, pleading with him to let me sleep in his bed, one of the most embarrassing requests I’ve ever had to make in my life. (“What the fuck is going on???”)

Fast forward five years. A month or so ago, I was in my bed, in my own room, in Singapore. I hear the same exact sound I’d heard in Dustin’s spare bedroom. The realisation has me feeling extremely alert. I wonder why I’m hearing knocking beside my window, our apartment is on the sixth storey. I Google it, and lo and behold! The results say it could have been the air-conditioning unit (I don’t know what exactly about the unit, I’m really not a Sciencey person) that sounds like there’s a knocking going on. Five years ago, when I wrote about this, not a single soul told me it could have been the A/C. This year, I found out I made a fool of myself thanks to a goddamn temperature-regulating device. All this to say, supernatural things don’t exist and you only believe such shit if you were raised in religious Asian families. That’s all, folks. 

Thursday, June 3, 2021


could I interest you in everything
all of the time?

I just watched Bo Burnham’s Netflix special, Inside. He’s a stand-up comedian, an actor and a musician, and he produced and edited the entire thing inside his house during the pandemic last year. The good thing about him being multi-talented is the songs he performed were super catchy, I looked for them on Spotify but they’re not there yet. Of course there is political commentary, and everything he wrote and performed (to canned laughter that you can see him ostentatiously push a button to play) is relateable. There is a song about the white woman’s Instagram, about Facetiming his mother (“my mother’s covering the camera with her thumb”), sexting. The sexting song is simultaneously embarrassing and also completely understandable. He’s wearing I think just his white undies while singing it. At different points of the special, he is unhinged, derailed, and he both makes fun of it, but also doesn’t. He says, “I... am not.... well.” It’s a very interesting hour, he keeps repeating “does anyone want to joke at a time like this?” We’ve all come to the same conclusion, it’s a terrible time to be alive, there is nothing to laugh at, and still we all try so hard. I don’t know, I think everyone should watch it, because I think shared experiences somehow help the tiniest bit, and then we can all talk about it together, even though really, none of it matters. The show reminded me of Adam, I think Adam thinks of himself as a funny man, and he also plays multiple musical instruments, so I thought of him. However, I am Sarah Mei, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t watch one thing and think of every single person I know and relate everything to them. This means all the people I used to date and used to be friends with.

Recently, I came to terms with the fact that I’m okay with the world and civilisation as we’ve known it, ending. This is me, the girl who has attachment to everything, who has an existential crisis on the weekly. I think things are constantly in flux, and we’ve seen great progress and it’s okay if we die, because everything has to die and end one day. I think what bothers me most is the fact that inequality and injustice are at an all-time high. I hate thinking that while I may not be worried about drinking potable water until the day I die, while I never have to worry about having a warm shelter in place, it is the people with no agency at all, who suffer from all the consequences. It is people born in less fortunate countries (meaning with a history of being exploited by the wealthy nations) who will have no access to water, who will have the most polluted water and air and resources, who will have their infrastructure torn down, who will die in the most anguish, just because in a system like capitalism, people like you and I inherently want more from the earth. The things we want, require land to be forcibly taken, ground to be fracked, trees to be cut, crude oil to be refined, and I don’t think enough “first-world” people really acknowledge this. I hate the imbalance and I wonder, every fucking day, I wonder, if someone could teach billionaires some bit of empathy, to lessen (forget eliminating) their exploitation, if someone could be a Chidi and Eleanor, if someone could turn this from a Bad Place to a semi Medium Place.