not today.

this morning was a movie scene.

i foolishly insisted on wearing a pair of heels that have aged far past their durability, because i thought it was important i looked put together and unflappable on a cold drizzly monday morning. and the resulting uncomfortable teeter to the train station was anything but.

i was grasping in one hand my gym duffel, and in my other, a heavy bag filled with lunchboxes for the week (i prepped them in advance – a gamely attempt at conscientious eating), with the sheer weight of it feeling dangerous on flimsy straps and leaving red welts across my arm.

and of course while i looked the very image of precariousness, my heel caught in the cracks of the wet asphalt. of course.

it was a brief but heart-stopping circus act of ungraceful lurches and windmill arms. i looked down, sighed audibly, and succumbed to pulling my trainers out from my gym bag and chucking the traitorous shoes into the bin.

there are days where it is important to look put together and unflappable. but not today.

not today.

 

alright.

i have nothing for you this Friday morning.

except that i implore all of you to give Ed Sheeran’s latest album a listen — currently, i am playing Supermarket Flowers and Perfect  on the heels of each other and they are making my heart shake and sigh

on my hitch to work today, the driver took a different (longer) way to the office. the new route streaked across a reservoir, so quiet and still in the 7am’s of the day, that the morning sunlight looked like incandescence captured on fluid canvas.

and i thought, well it will be alright.

today’s uncertainties, my girlfriend’s broken arm, next week’s horrid work commitments, the days ahead, i — they will be alright.

bloom.

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this is good isn’t it? this writing – i have missed it. i’ve forgotten the therapy of its release, a literary Pensieve.

i find that on all the blogs i follow, i most enjoy reading entries on gratitude, and little things in the day that we can give thanks for. they remind me of the quiet splendor of small things, and the ceremony in common days*, for isn’t this life mostly strung of small things and common days than not?

so today, as I curve a hand around yet another cup of kopi O kosong, i shall document gratitude.

for the pause in the bus driver’s motion when he caught sight of my panicked little stride in his side mirror this morning, for the generous hand that prepared my peanut butter toast, for the existence of this playlist for ragged mornings, for obedient hair, for a recovering zit, for the cute videos and random photos of breakfasts that lit my phone in the mornings from people dear — that i am being thought of in the beginnings of somebody elses’ day.

for the above explosion of blooms in form of a Valentines’ Day surprise sprung by my person, for the compliment i received on an old dress that i’ve recently rediscovered, for the crisp note my mother discreetly slipped into my purse yesterday night, for fat blueberries deliciously in season and on sale, for words, for words my own or others — that both feed and cleanse me.

 

*words borrowed from the author behind this newly discovered (and fast-becoming a favourite) site –so much grace in both her photos and words.

 

 

 

a song.

sheer chance introduced this to me late afternoon yesterday, and i am a little abashed to say i have not stopped listening to it since. i learned that this was one of Bob Dylan’s unfinished songs, that was only released to the public just recently — oh thank you whoever you are who decided to share. 

i recommend pairing it with a late night Uber ride home, where shadows and street light put on puppet shows across the backseat, and the white of your arms. i would like to caution that if it does you what it did to me, the rest of your evening would feel slightly soppy and bittersweet, but sometimes sweet aches are what salve the soul.

how it is.

words are tricky.

words lend romance to the most insipid of tasks, they colour grey days with shimmers of warmth that were never there, they italicize stiff things and they soften frigid routines and they are so very, very tricky.

i could tell you how my recent days are – in these tricky words – and they would turn out better here than they actually felt. i could tell you how i nurse cup after cup of kopi-o kosong peng*  each work morning like it was a talisman and i a desperate seeker for divine protection. i could tell you how sometimes i sigh myself into my office chair every morning, and stare unseeingly as my inbox populates itself with to-dos and tasks that do not excite or engage me. i could tell you that grace only lends itself during the pockets of time i share a laugh with a work buddy,  a coffee break stolen between the folding hours of late afternoon, or when i turn  my desk light off at the end of the day.

and yet.

and yet they all read better here, they are still washed with a sepia-toned melancholia,  and we all know there is beauty in sad things, in dreary things.

but i want to be honest with you, and i (very earnestly) want you to know that there is absolutely nothing charming with such days. and that we all have them – these dry as dust periods – and if you, like me, sometimes feel seized with a curious sort of desperation that  you are squandering your finite days on such non-things and non-feelings, i just want you to know that you’re not alone.

you’re not alone, and it is important to know that, sometimes, the living is in that laugh with a work buddy, that coffee break stolen amidst the day, the extinguishing of your desk light at the end of the day, and while they are minute and are barely a trickle in the reservoir of hours in your day, they matter.

and the living is in the gratitude that we still have that in the bleakest of days.

(p.s. also, days will get better. i’m holding out for that as much as you.)

 

 

*colloquial term for iced black coffee in Singapore – made by grounding coffee beans roasted in butter or margarine, filtered through a coffee sock, and topped with boiling water.

 

 

Seventeen.

Last year, I read the littlest since, well, since I had a library card.

I am quite ashamed of this. For somebody who used to devour two books in a day and borrow two arms full and a precarious couple more from the library every weekend, to be able to count the number of books I’ve read in the past year is more than a little humbling.

And as with (almost) everything else, when you lose touch with something that helps hone your craft, your craft suffers. Words no longer flow with ease, sentences lack fluidity, the stories in my head stay there because I am unable to unfold them with grace.

I could chalk this up to the mundane nature of my work, the way template emails and unbending minds stiff with age and this-is-the-way-it-has-always-been-done’s slowly curb and chain you, until you have unknowingly shriveled into an acceptable shape of resignation. I could chalk this up to other happier events – I am now engaged and planning for a wedding, and I’ve learned that wedding planning is so much more than choosing the silhouette of your dress and the type of dessert you want – that take me away from reading. But then again, they are all really just non-reasons.

I miss reading, so very much. And this 2017, my one and only resolution would be to start reading again. And hopefully, that would translate to finally writing again.

Relationship goals

The girl was cross. He was not doing it right.

“You’re not doing it right!” her words were brittle, like those thin layers of ice that filmed on window panes and the lids of icecream pints. Prickly and chipped at the edges.

He exhaled, soundless and loud at the same time. Vexation has volume.

The boy, whose right hand was tenderly cradling the girl’s cheek, shifted and adjusted. He cupped her cheek in another angle, a little lower, a tenser hand, a softer wrist.

“Like this can?” he retorted, his words jagged and sharp while his hand remained a gentle curve.

The girl, who was pretty even with testy dissatisfaction hugging her mouth, peered critically into the phone she was holding up. “You’re pulling my hair,” she muttered before forcefully tugging a few strands out of his cupped hand. She peered into her phone again.

“Okay. Now it’s okay. Okay, smile at me. Not at the camera! At ME. ” It sounded more like a command than anything else.

“No not like that.”

“Can you smile more naturally? You look so fake.”

“Yes like that, but we have to take again. My face looks fat in this one.”

Ten. Fifteen. Twenty four. The girl clicked on with militant determination, she beamed in megawatt joy, she grinned cheekily, she contorted her mouth into a half-laugh as her eyes turned up into commas, she puckered her lips into a kiss, she shuttered her eyes down in mock bashfulness, a secretive little quirk of her lips. Ah, yes, this. Perfect.

“Okay, we got it.” she turned her head away from his hand irritably and hopped off his lap. She returned to her seat across from him and pushed the menu towards him.

“You can order first. I want to edit and post on Insta.”

She was too engrossed in her phone to notice his eyes roll, or when his eyes widened, and blinked twice. If she had looked up, she would have seen him gazing beyond her shoulder at the group of girls seated behind them.

But she was adjusting brightness.

If she had looked up, she would have seen him shoot his smile, the smile he strategically made a notch shy, to the brunette at the table, who was looking back at him.

But she was busy meticulously reducing shadows.

If she had looked up just then, she would have seen him mouth the word ‘no’ when the brunette gestured to her, silently asking if they were together.

But she was busy Googling for a quote for her caption. Rumi or Lang Leav?

So she didn’t.

“There! Posted on IG,” she sat back with a self-satisfied sigh.

The boy shrugged. He stood up. “I uh, got to go to the washroom,” he mumbled.

“Now? When we are going to eat?”

“Ya.”

Now it was her turn to roll her eyes as he left the table. Her phone lit, and she momentarily forgot about her annoyance. Somebody had commented on her photo. She smiled complacently as she clicked on the orange speech bubble.

Omg too cute you two! Relationship goals!