I scooted into a seat at the back of church, not in my usual place. And it took me a while to realise that I was standing behind you - I forgot that the mole on your neck existed. And while there was still a faint wrenching pain somewhere in my chest, I think I’m glad that my memory of you has turned out better than real life.
The thing about oversleeping is the gamble on the train I have to take - which side to sit on so the sun doesn’t shine from behind me. It has to be a quick one because too much dallying would result in me standing - a choice far more regrettable than the sun burning up on my neck.
Today I made a wrong choice. I sat where the sun would burn up my neck, where the screens of my devices would be black no matter how much I turned up the brightness, where I develop a headache, where a heartache festers.
We met during a really warm and sticky season. And I think that’s all I’m going to remember for a while.
The reason why I overslept in the first place was because I decided that life could perhaps be on the pause today. It couldn’t. And I spent a long time under the sheets thinking about ways to write out an existence but I couldn’t find one I liked enough.
My hair has been a mess — a dry, unattractive mop of blonde. But unlike other people, you seem to keep your comments to yourself. I know you’re amused and slightly perturbed by the state of it, but at least you’re not dramatic about it.
That night, in between whiskey and a a lot of smokes, you put your head on my shoulder and you said, “Finally the strands can touch my face.” I laughed because you’d been whining about that for a while. And it really has been a long time since I could tie up my hair, or have someone tug at it. Your hand reached up to touch my hair on the other side of my face and I asked, “How many heads of dried hair have you touched?” You said, “Only one head who deliberately does this to her own hair.” Then you kissed my neck and ran your fingers through my hair. Black, red, brown, blonde, short or long — you were there at all stages. Just that some fingers felt more ghostly than the others.
I tell people that I don’t drink anymore, but the fact is I still do, especially when I’m with you, or when I’m thinking about you. Which is most of the time. And it’s also cheaper to drink at home — because my feelings are cheap anyway.
There was one warm night where I lay sprawled on your floor smoking and drinking. It was so warm that it got too troublesome sitting on the couch. And when you laid beside me, I remember telling you about the adventures of a boy. I said, “it’s nearly been a year we met.” And you said, “and yet, here you are.” But that’s because I have no where to be and I haven’t built a home, I frowned.
"You finish work at 10 and come home at 1130. How’s anyone going to meet you?"
"You would try if you really wanted to, right?"
"That is true. I try all the time. That’s why you’re here."
I wanted to pack up and leave, but the humidity of the night and the slow heat melted me into your floors. My hair smells like smoke, but you’re the only one still willing to put your face into my hair to smell it. “Smells like home,” you mumble. I hate summertime most of the time, because that’s the time my relationships spontaneously combust due to the heat. But slow nights like this, coupled with the sheer comfort in knowing that someone wanted me, made me stay to see what happens.
Sometimes I get really confused about reality. And when it gets too hot and my eyes cannot re-focus back quickly enough, I am convinced about another life. Sometimes, I turn my head in another angle and at the right time, the sun rays bounce off a car hood and into my eyes. And I am so sure someone is fucking with me on purpose.
There are days like today where I wish I were ten years younger, or ten years older. And I’m sure that when I’m in my mid-thirties, I would say the same thing. But today, I thought about it so hard with my eyes squeezed shut that I started to panic and cry.
This weekend has been exhausting and tiring, to the point I needed a drink or two more to put me to sleep, so that I may not have to relive loops of hell in my head.
The burden of a corporeal body that has been and can be violated will remain and all I wish for are mechanical hands that let me crush the throats of men who so much as utter, “but not all men”.
In life, there is little point in trying to see the oppressor’s side anymore, especially when they cannot and never will be able to understand. People may not be an intentional racist, misogynist, bigot, oppressor whatever, but they still say racist, misogynist, bigoted and oppressive things unintentionally. But at certain point in life, injury goes way beyond intent. I can forgive you once for a mistake, twice for a mistake, all my life repeatedly for unintentional mistakes. But how many fucking unintentional mistakes do people have to make before I die? I don’t want to hear it anymore.
It tears apart scar tissue repeatedly and it gets too tiring – I rather avoid people who hold the ability to hurt. “But who will teach them? But who will carry on the good fight?” Sorry, but there has never been anything more burdensome that being a woman and I wish I could shed this skin and be a bird. Some people will literally have you die because you’re trying to be the best you can be. And some will think it’s only worthy (or worth it) if you die fighting for it. It’s baffling and it drives me to tears. But what about me? But what about me?
This month was such a drag. A long, boring drag of monotony and routine, of chasing other people’s timelines that ultimately do not contribute anything to my own timeline, of ghosts who linger far too longer by my side.
The nights have been long and I just spend them outside the mosquito-infested balcony smoking and drinking the minutes away, wishing that some nights wouldn’t be so long sometimes. There was a pair of speakers that crackled - so when I played 90s mandopop complete with the electric guitars, electone and drum beats that echo, it feels like the 90s memory is real.
When you remember something, you don’t actually remember the incident that happened itself. You retrieve the last remembered memory, and copy over it. And in that process, maybe the bad bits get removed, and you add another dash of hope. The last memory I have of you is probably a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy — so corrupted that it’s probably the most glorious memory there ever was. And I should know better than to crave for a past that never was, but it’s all I remember now. And time is best ingested when cold.
As the night wore off, my concentration began to wane. The discipline to keep my head upright on my own, firm shoulders began to dilute and I found myself resting them on yours. The gin and constant smoking start to burn up my mouth, but I let it be. It’s the sick satisfaction of doing all the things that you didn’t like me doing, and the funny realisation that if I had not veered off from the predicted timeline and path set for us, things would have been very different. It would have been very different.
In dreaming about alternate timelines, I didn’t realise that the cigarette had neared its end and it burned my fingers.
Today, a colleague is in Seoul. The temperature is still cool, but when I look at the weather on my phone, it’s just starting to get warm. And when it gets warm there, I remember the warm summer days that I spent there once. Just once in 2012 where it had been so sticky and unbearable. Otherwise, Seoul was always cold and in need of an extra blanket and person.
There’s a writing season for me, and it always seems to be the mid year. The heat brings out a frustration that I cannot contain. The other day, I was watching Days of Being Wild again and Yuddy starts off seducing Su Li-zhen. The flirting moves to after sex pillow talk with the fan whirring in the background. And the scene gets really silent, like with us because my Korean is shitty and you hate speaking in English. But I’m sure heat is heat anywhere - Hongkong, Seoul, Singapore. And when Su Li-zhen reaches over to touch Yuddy, I imagine her to be touching a slick, sweaty mess, not an actual person. Just a pool of languid solid melting like jello in the slow heat. The languid summer always looks better than what it feels — the manual fan whirs noisily, the sheets squeak, the singlet silently and slowly squelching as it separates from flesh, sweat drips so loudly it resonates. It’s unbearable, it’s unsettling yet I recall it the most.
I miss the city because I miss the people there - the old people that I (mostly) never want to see again. But going back to each place evokes a certain old memory that I think I can indulge in. A warm coffee, a subtle hair tuck, hand holding, coat pocket sharing. Today, a colleague is in Seoul. And I’m in Singapore. And you’re everywhere.
By the sixth drink and well over 24 hours of too much alcohol, I felt waves of nausea ebb and flow through time — time passes by ever so slowly and uncomfortably. I wanted it to come crashing and take me away, but it ends up lapping at my feet ever so consistently.
I feel like we’ve so many things to say, but we never really talk about ourselves. Maybe it’s because I never know how. I wanted to tell you I got into a minor accident, or that my father went to the hospital, or that oh never mind. Never mind.
But the slow burn of our love really upsets me. And coupled with warm afternoons that we’ve been having, I really just want to kiss someone. And I keep going back to the same house, the same cigarettes, the same feet tangled up on the couch, the same sloppy seconds, the same neat gins and tequilas in the middle of the night, the same pitiful look from a person who even though would love me back, would never have me. If I were a moth, I should be hovering near the heat source. But the truth is, all I really want to do is to dive right into it for the flames to engulf me. But I make do with what I have.
The degradation of relationships with the people I love always surprise me even though people upset me so much, and they never return my love in the way that I want it. In the span of three days, I’m sitting there wondering if something had been wrong with my calculations of love.
The other day I spent the entire night drinking wine with an old friend who somehow sees though my partial lies and hazy truths. And as the night wore on and bottles accumulate, I realise that adulthood is getting less and less daunting, but only if I truly did not feel the need to place my markers against others.
But I cried, and asked, that my life is not my own and it affects ten million others - how can I continue to live life like waste and not care about what the people I love think? Even if they don’t love me back. And I felt a flickering light slowly die out.
When I stumbled home in the wee hours, I came home to my mother sitting by the couch playing with her phone. My dad was not in his room and I found out he was in the hospital. If life were a movie, there would be rapid flash comparisons of my father in the hospital while I cried my tears into glasses of wine. But life is not a movie, and I couldn’t have known unless my mother called me. That night, I confirmed that my mother and I were shitty versions of the same selfish, unyielding person, and I really want to snuff out our futures.
You hardly play life by your own rules, if you have even any say at all.
“The main trouble with cyborgs, of course, is that they are the illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state socialism. But illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers, after all, are inessential.”—donna haraway, the cyborg manifesto [x] (via elucipher)
In what is supposed to be old friends (or not?) gathering together, I feel like the only one who hasn’t progressed nor moved on in life to be an adult. And I feel the acute pain of being the child of the group and I… I… Feel like crying in the middle of laughter because it feels like I do not deserve life and life in its elements.
I should have thought better than to expect sympathy, affection and concern from my mother after what seems to be a bad fall because everything revolves around her in the end, and everything seems to be solve easily by claiming its my fault. And it’s the absolute worst, the worst, the worst, when you’re proven right – even though you didn’t have to go through the experience again. Yesterday night I cried for a long time because after minutes of shouting at me, I knew I didn’t want to speak to her about this situation again – or with anything else. I don’t think I want to go through the process of calculating if it’s worth it to talk, plucking up the courage to speak, and then finally seeing that I’m proven right.
All my life I go around looking for validation and affection and I think that’s enough.
Occasionally (more like, most of the time) I find myself a disappointment and bore to be with. And I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be in my company. But that’s because I know I don’t really want to do anything anymore except to watch the lives of others, or to suck the life out of others. And I’m terrified of someone finally peeling off and revealing I’m actually a really disappointing package. Not exactly a value-for-money investment for the future.
I had hours to spare so I took a train back and forth for two hours watching Twin Peaks. I really wanted to cry, but I’m not even sure why. The extreme double life that Laura Palmer is leading is not at all relatable, but I understand that struggle and fatigue of trying.
A very long time ago, someone found the perfect method to gently wake me up. I still wasn’t pleasant when I woke, but I did it on my own.
And it’s only years later I realise how well he knew me and my temperament, perhaps even better than myself at that time.
I slept a lot when I was with R, simply because as a teenager, there was nothing to do in a house except to sleep. When it came time for me to wake up and head home, he’d turn off the air conditioning unit 20 minutes before I was supposed to wake, and waited for me to stir. I didn’t even know it was a trick till one day he let me in on it. Turns out I hate the heat so much.
“I think the average guy thinks they’re pro-woman, just because they think they’re a nice guy and someone has told them that they’re awesome. But the truth is far from it. Unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations.”—Junot Diaz (via luciaferr)
I was ready to stay on at work but you called and asked if I wanted lunch. Did I want lunch? Of course I wanted lunch everybody wants lunch. So I packed my bag and went for late lunch. I am sick of waiting around for a something solid to happen or materialise or appear in my calendars. But you were willing to wait for a bit. And god I needed lunch. The office air-con broke down, I was frustrated with work and the shitty circumstances which would have me reluctantly tearing up my leave work, there was a shitty rainstorm in the morning and a blazing hot afternoon. Fuck that shit. Fuck that fucking shit. In the end, all I got was a liquid meal and was drunk by four with you. I mostly went to drink away the guilt but I don’t really give a shit at this point. I am bored to death and I can’t stand hanging around. I even let you touch my hair.
When I played softball briefly, I remember the shortstop was supposed to be the guardian between the second and third base. Naturally, the majority of right-handed batters hit toward left and centre field. But most importantly, the shortstop was there to keep the ball within infield. They had to hold third base if the third baseman was busy catching a bunt, or second if the second baseman was busy in double-play situations. There was no waiting to see where the ball will be launched - you move the moment the bat touches the ball and you make a lucky or calculated guess. In short, they were there to keep a lockdown infield and to make sure that there weren’t any unexpected fuck ups. Till today I’m still make a shitty shortstop. I can’t predict will the ball will go and I react too slowly. Except I stopped playing softball.
I called my mom to ask her to buy dinner because I didn’t want to hang around with you that long anyway. Maybe next time. But as I stumbled home on the train I thought man, the number of commuters on this train are staggering even before 6pm and I wondered about the lives of others, but mostly about yours. And it was those thoughts (plus all that drinking made me ravenous) made me eat two portions of dinner and I feel sick. God, life is unbelievable sometimes.
Yesterday I spaced out. And before I knew it, it was lunchtime. Where did time go?
There are pockets of time I don’t remember, yet moments that loop for eternity at the back of my lids. And even when I open them again, I find myself retracing the steps, only this time, it’s with other people. They say history repeats itself, but only because it’s impossible to let go.
There are days where I’m wake up and think it will be a good day. And it melts away two hours later. And on some not so good days, I wake up already a molten mess, hoping God would scoop me up and tell me it’s okay to have days like this. Sometimes people see the mess and would rather not touch it. And I get it.
There are people I love but would rather have them stay out of my life. But only because they don’t love me back the way I want them to. And if I can’t have all of you, then maybe I’ll take none. But I’ll save that speech for when I feel the bravery travel up to my knees and stomach. But today, they’re still residing at the back of my heels and I’m afraid I will collapse if I say it.
There are historical spaces I forgot existed, but are unearthed as time goes by. And the shared history is a little painful to re-visit - mostly because some are hazy, yet some replay on loop. And if time and space were jumbled up, then maybe the truth is, it never really existed.
I wanted life to a be movie — like a fast paced Chungking express with but that slow-mo shot of Cop 663 drinking the coffee — but my director’s cut is shitty.
There are very hot days (like today) when you wake up from a nap on the couch, alone and sweaty. Alone because everyone left the house, and sweaty because the heat has been so fuckingly unbearable and the still, warm air transforms and coalesces into a pool of sweat in clavicles.
And in the moment of frustration, thanks to the loneliness and the eternal stickiness on your skin, you eat the cold, leftover noodles from this morning wondering why you gave up the chance to be asleep in an air-conditioned room in someone’s arms.
Hot days give me a headache that blitzes through my skull each time I try to move, and the warmness sets off my restlessness and unhappiness like nothing else other. But I figure summertime is my personal hell, and I wish it would rain all the time. All the bloody time.
There’s a fine line between loneliness and solitude as I’ve figured out painfully over wasted years. And I wish I didn’t delude myself into insisting that amidst the slow crawl of a Sunday afternoon, that what I was feeling was indeed solitude. Because solitude meant productivity, and I haven’t done anything productive in years. But why is it like this? Why?
As I sat staring into an empty pot that was once filled with soggy noodles and limp vegetables, I realise how I lost control of time and discipline. The heat always makes me lose control and ups my irritation. Before I knew it, I finished old noodles that were meant for two and I had all the evidence on my shirt. I wish I gave a fuck about what I eat and my wrecked relationship with food. But as with life, I have better things to give a fuck about (i.e. nothing).
I also realise that the side of my lips were now bleeding because I keep biting into the same wounded spot as I eat too quickly. Yes, the wound is my fault, but it really can’t be helped - that area always gets in the way. After a while, it’s just become an annoyance. I’m okay. It’s okay. I even throw the pot and cutlery into the sink so I can wash it later.
It was a tearful, useless weekend, and I had done zero work even though I willed myself too. But like the cyclical nature of weather, the hot, frustrating days will pass. Right? Right?
Occasionally, I am frozen in my seat when I watch an Edward Yang film. Stricken by a past life that vividly plays at the back of my eyelids, I am thinking, is my present now then someone’s past memories?
There’s a silent suffocation that goes on in my home that makes it difficult to breathe. I’m not sure if it’s the warm air, or the ever-increasing presence of my mother. But in the summer, particularly this month, I feel like dying more often than usual. It’s the sweaty, wet nights by the window, the listless mornings where the sun rises too early to warm up the room, and the still, sticky air which sets off the boredom. There are only so many nights where I can work late, and so many people I can afford to meet.
This morning, I really hated you. And I felt like I couldn’t possibly like you anymore. I thought the feeling would abate by night, but going outside to smoke, I came face to face with the warm air again and I knew it was a week meant for boredom and burns on my thighs.