come what may

Thursday, December 28, 2017


Warm greetings and holiday cheer seemingly wrap everything in place. 
Grey skies and cold nights, here are December's final days. 
Sweet treats and carefree laughter from the many lucky souls, 
who, on this festive season, have finally found their ways back home.

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Here we are, finally; in the time warp that separates New Year's Eve and Christmas Day. The very last week of 2017, where all that's left to do is hold onto whatever fond memory the year has given us, and to whatever hope we can find for the year that's about to come.

It's also in this week that the topic of "New Year's Resolutions" would frequently come up. Sometimes big, specific goals are planned (like buying a new home), other times, people aim for milestones (like getting married or graduating college.) This time, however, when it comes to resolutions, I – a person who'd normally enjoy meticulously planning every detail of my life before it actually takes place – surprisingly have none.

When we make resolutions, we envision a better version of ourselves. For some, better is healthier. For others, better is wealthier. Then, throughout the year, we push ourselves to continually try and close the gap between where we are and where we want to be. But unlike the brave people who decide that 2018 will be a year they lose weight, get a promotion, travel far, or find true love, in facing the new year, I find myself with an attitude that is whispered in three small words, "Come what may."

"What is meant for you will reach you, even if it's placed beneath two mountains. 
What isn't meant for you will not reach you, even if it's placed between your two lips." 

When I found this quote several days ago, I didn't know it was something I desperately needed to hear. After a lifetime of placing high expectations on myself, my soul, it seems, has learned to finally yield.

Being the type of person that I am, it is surprising for me to be able to leave a year and enter the next in a state of total surrender. Okay, seriously, what do you want?, I'd keep asking myself. At the end of the day, my answer stays the same: I want nothing that God doesn't want me to have, and everything within what He's given me the capacity to receive.


There are about three days left of this turbulent year, and about twenty-five before I start a new life abroad. For both cases, though, I'm simply trying my best to make a graceful exit. During these moments of in-between, I'm left to do what I can and hope that it's enough; to be mindful of the paths God is calling me to take, to carry myself with strength whenever it's needed, and to leave the year with as much peace in my heart as I can.

Today, with only a few sleeps away before the conffetti-and-fireworks rage that comes after the countdown, signaling "the start of a new chapter" for many of us, I tell myself to pause and reflect. I tell myself that there are decisions we could never undo, the same way that there are moments we couldn't step back into. But we are also not a product of our mishaps, the same way we are not defined by our shortcomings. Through it all, I stand firm with my belief that everything happens for a reason. And unlike human emotion, reason sometimes takes a little longer to unravel.

Perhaps that's what I'm coming to realize; that not having a carefully-designed Pinterest board made of dreams for 2018, is not the same as giving up. It's also not to be mistaken with me being too pessimistic. I have no resolutions simply because I am certain about absolutely nothing. I have no resolutions because I don't know what lies ahead, and I'm not in the mood to pretend like I do. 

So instead of dreaming about a better life, distant in the future, I'm only committing to endurance. If 2017 has taught me anything, it's that with just enough time, a lot of things can fall apart, but a lot of things can also be rebuilt. But at whatever point I find myself, be it in the deep waters, or high on a mountaintop, it is endurance that'll make sure I keep going. 

So I say, come what may, in my both nostalgic and hopeful misery. 
So I say, come what may, for this is an ode to a future's mystery.
So I say, come what may, for a heart takes more time than a broken bone. 
So I say, come what may, for I am never certain, never perfect, 
but also never, ever alone.

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After writing this, I understand that this might not make sense to a lot of you, but despite it being a little personal and sentimental, I hope this short piece has helped inspire you in any way. Please bear with me if it's a little dry; I haven't written a piece in so many days. 

What you might not know, though, is that to this, I ended up writing another piece; an epilogue or poem, of sorts. It's titled "A Town of Memories" and you can read it here.

Also, I've been diving into the act of writing letters. I don't know if it's just a phase, or if it's because Christmas just leaves you with a lot of emotions. Either way, writing long, unsent letters have been pretty therapeutic, and I'd suggest any person who likes to write to do the same.

And where have I been? 

Elsewhere, really.

I hope I see you soon.












movies | loved lately

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Rain has been pouring endlessly and the air has grown colder and it's this phase of the year that I like to call "sleep weather." Whatever it brings, though, be it rain or snow, depending on where you live, we can't deny that December is a perfect month for cocooning in our own bedrooms. Wrapped up in our thick blankets, closing the curtains, turning the night light on, a warm drink in hand, occupying ourselves with a good movie or a good book.

I've watched many movies this year and although I couldn't possibly remember all of them, I've watched several within this past few weeks that turned out to be incredible. Splayed across different genres, listed below, in no particular order, are all the films I've watched recently that for me, left a very lasting impact.

(Click the photos to see the trailers!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92SgWpDYjlo
"Some of us get dipped in flat. Some in satin, some in gloss. But every once in a while, you find someone who's iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare."

flipped
I've never been an advocate of cheesy romances, but this one was just too adorable to forget. I know I'm about 7 years late to watching this movie, but I fell in love with it almost instantly. It follows the story of two kids, Julie Baker, and Bryce Loski, also described as her "first love." Because he resents Julie for she is quite the creative, smart-and-gutsy oddball compared to the other prim-perfect girls in school, things start to get complicated as he has no choice but to encounter her on a daily basis, since they're neighbors. 

The film doesn't solely dive into the romance aspect, but also highlights another important value which is family. The story is told from both sides, so I loved seeing that boy-vs-girl perspective on how silly, ambiguous, and helplessly devoted young, unrequited love can be. The 1957 setting also won my heart, for sure. This movie is not only timeless, but also very sweet and endearing. Heart eyes all over.

"No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world."

dead poet's society
Glorious. Just, everything about it. This has to be one of the best and most inspiring movies I've seen in my entire life (and that's really saying something.) The production actually aired in 1989 but if there's one thing I always seem to have faith in, it's old Hollywood films. Dead Poet's Society tells an exciting, engaging story of an English teacher (played by the late iconic Robin Williams) in a highly esteemed prep school, educating his law-and-med-school-ready boys to "seize the day" and follow their heart. 

The life lessons gained from watching this film is irreplaceable. It stretched the scope of literature to use it to teach us of passion, love, courage, and the beauty of pursuing our dreams. Personally, as someone with a deep love for writing, and a firm belief that words and ideas can, in fact, change the world, this film also strengthened my sense of purpose. Also, Neil Perry is gorgeous. That's all.

"Do your duty, come what may. Never tolerate any injustice, and never compromise on self-respect."

neerja
Before anyone ridicules me for choosing a Bollywood film, I implore you, friends, to give this one a chance. I know films from India have a bad rep for "too much" of the dancing or passionate love affairs, but this is not one of them. Based on a true story, it features the heroic act of one Neerja Bhanot (played exquisitely by the beautiful Sonam Kapoor), an air hostess who saved hundreds of passengers on a plane terrorist hijacking that took place in Pakistan, September 1986.

I applaud the directors, cast and crew of this film for creating such a vivid display of courage and endurance, especially through the main character. We need to make more room for films that feature strong female characters, and this is one of those films. I feel like most of the world clearly doesn't know about this story, or movie, but it deserves so much more recognition. Also, I may or may not have cried more than once through the duration of this movie. Just, turn on those subtitles and I promise, you won't regret it.

"Can you imagine a world in which we end up together?"

the big sick
As I'd mentioned before, it's very rare that I find a love-story-centered film to be enjoyable. But I gotta admit that sometimes, I can be a total sucker for good and witty rom-coms. For the first movie I've seen that highlights a story of an interracial relationship, The Big Sick did not disappoint. Based on a true story, it follows the life of Kumail, a stand-up comedian, and Pakistani, trying to "make it" in America. Along the way, he meets Emily, a blonde, sweet grad student, and obviously, they fall in love. 

In many ways entertaining and eye-opening, I got addicted to watching their chemistry develop and how utterly honest they are when they're together. They're both so clever, and sarcastic, and it just made the movie that much more likable. However, with this new relationship, Kumail faces the risk of disappointing his traditional Muslim parents. And when Emily falls into a coma with an unknown illness, Kumail has no choice but to bond with her parents, and tell the truth to his. As a comedy, it's hilarious, as a romance, it's charming, and as a rom-com, it holds more depth and authenticity than any others I've seen.

"In women, courage is often mistaken for insanity."

iron jawed angels
As a non-American, I clearly don't have my fair share of knowledge in American history. But if it's got something to do with female empowerment, bravery, and women bringing change, I'm totally here for it. Released in 2004, Iron Jawed Angels is a historical docudrama/indie film following the American women's suffrage movement during the 1910s. We're shown how these women activists risked their lives and fought (literally) for their American right to vote, but not always in the submissive, well-mannered way women were expected to be during those times.

Some of the scenes are touching, and some are still graphic enough to make the audience shift in their seats. The storyline is vigorous and focused, solely revolving around the main goal; women's suffrage. Also, I was especially awed by the irresistible Hilary Swank-Julia Ormond dynamic. Overall, whether it's from behind a desk or inside prison cells, the film incredibly embodies the spirit of their protest; an inconvenient, continuous resistance.

"In whatever people say, there is right, there is wrong. There is nothing in between."

murder on the orient express
Give me an old-fashioned English setting, a good detective story, and a bunch of rich folks being accused of murder, and you'll definitely capture my attention. Moving on to the newly released movies this time, this has to be one of my favorites. Based on one of Agatha Christie's bestselling mystery novels, Murder on the Orient Express places "probably-the-greatest-detective-in-the-world" Hercule Poirot on the famous European train heading to London. Seeking rest, Poirot encounters an unexpected case; a man has been murdered on the Orient Express. (Because of course, in every detective story, a cold-blooded murder is always found right in the center of their supposed "holiday".)

The plot takes a turn and the scene grows dark as everyone on the train becomes a suspect to the killing. With a brilliantly complex and fascinating set of characters, the plot is increasingly compelling. The audience feels invited to make guesses and judgements on the characters alongside the detective. Compared to Sherlock, I've found that Poirot has slightly less of the arrogance and more of that grandfather-like wisdom. Both, however, carry equally great wit and finesse in their work. The one thing that made me latch onto this movie was the visuals. Astounding, to say the least. Every frame a cinematic artwork, I'd push this for Oscar's Best Picture at any given day. If you have a soft spot for mystery novels, this movie is worth a shot.

"We may have our differences, but nothing's more important than family."

coco
Last but not least, the animated movie of the year. The most amazing Pixar production in 2017, if not all time, is the movie Coco, released only a few weeks ago. Despite the fact that we had to enjoy this after sitting through a lousy Frozen "holiday special" short film (FOR 30 MINUTES), my, Coco was worth the wait. Where do I begin to describe the love I have for this movie? Shown through some breathtaking animation work and a heartwarming story, it's like Disney and Pixar closed the year by saying, "Hey! We can still make animated movies that don't suck!" 

And the ultimate comeback it was, indeed. The story follows Miguel, a young Mexican boy born in a family of shoemakers, trying desperately to pursue his dream of becoming a musician. Different and never before seen in any of their other movies, I adored Disney's take on Mexico as its main setting, and Dia de los Muertos, a rich embodiment of the culture itself. Also, let's face it, we totally enjoyed the mariachi background music. For a Disney movie, it's a very fresh, new experience. Every aspect of it was captivating, including some tear-jerking moments along the way as well. Frankly, I'm undebatably emotionally attached to this film. And I think anyone who has a heart would love it just the same.

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I've decided that I won't write movie reviews anymore unless I have very strong feelings about them, so the movies listed above are, in fact, very close to my heart. I hope this gives some references and insight, and I hope everyone has a good December.

See you around?











singapore | tiong bahru

Friday, December 15, 2017


Behind the tall condominium buildings and the skyscrapers made of glass, beyond the five-star hotels and the tourist-filled theme parks, away from Singapore's elaborate shopping malls and high-end boutiques, lies the peculiar little neighborhood going by the name of Tiong Bahru.


The several hours we spent in the area (cut short by the rain that afternoon) gave us a glimpse into some very fascinating places.

Once we stepped out of the MRT station, we took a turn and ended up in a small spot the locals would normally visit. Going down the steps, we're greeted by a pleasantly sweet smell, and I swear nothing gives us joy quite like those Chinese-run bakeries with their freshly made, tasty, decadent, yet inexpensive pastries. My mom purchased two of their egg tarts (pictured above) and it was the best egg tart I've ever had in my whole life, probably.

I was eager to start our walk to Tiong Bahru but mom stopped by a hawker centre nearby to grab herself some lunch. I guess you couldn't call it a trip to Singapore without at least once stepping foot into a hawker centre.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, hawker centres are food courts (usually in open air) that serve wide varieties of cooked food, in which you could usually grab a meal for no more than $5. Commonly found in Asia, like Singapore and Hong Kong, for example.


The day was pretty cloudy on our brisk walk, but I'd enjoy a walk anywhere so long as it's not raining, really. The street we managed to visit already had stores and cafes with the most well-crafted exterior designs. I'm talking illustrations on the wall, custom stickers dotting their windows, and all these funny little trinkets that you can see from the outside. 

After taking some photos, led by a friend's recommendation, we'd decided to first stop by at the Forty Hands coffee shop. (For someone who doesn't drink coffee, I sure have a thing for coffee shops.) Their food was great and the portions were suitable for two people to enjoy, but it wasn't so fantastic that I'd rave endlessly about it either.

What I found interesting was the actual interiors of this coffee shop. It's like they just tried their best to fit into the tiny gap between the two larger buildings by their sides. As pictured above, it was quite narrow in width, but as you step in, the place extended in length. It was like slipping a coffee shop into a very long, dark hallway. Nevertheless, it worked.


The BooksActually bookstore was, by far, the most amazing place I have ever visited in the entire world. I do not exaggerate, friends; I mean this with all my heart. I have such strong feelings for this bookstore, in the it's-heaven-on-earth, can-I-please-live-here kind of way.

Where do I begin? Their book collection was out of this world and it was everything I've ever dreamed of; it was like every single thing that I've ever looked for in regular book stores, all piled up in this humble little space. Mostly centered around fiction and literature, they also included books on politics, travel, biographies, and God, so many more. For my personal choice, I probably found close to 10 that I wanted to bring home, but my self control only granted me 3.

One of my most favorite things about independent stores like these is their effortless, messy, yet harmonious touch in interior decorating. Vintage novelties and naked lightbulbs and, wait, did they just make a chandelier of dried flowers placed in test tubes? They win. Also, they keep two cats in their store like it's absolutely not a big deal at all. On the shelves, the books were stacked to the ceiling and that, simply put, is how to win my heart at first sight. It was like I was immersed in this book fantasy from the minute I walked in. How many times have I typed the word "books" now, anyway?

Anyway...

If you're a fellow book enthusiast who happens to find yourself in Singapore, it would be a sin not to visit this place. For a look into their collection, or simply to find more info, I recommend visiting their site.


Rain started falling, so we needed to settle down and find a place to sit to wait it out. On the same street, there was the Plain Vanilla Bakery. A relative talked highly of this bakery because of their lovely cupcakes, and we opted for a tiny dark chocolate one to share. It was rich and nice and if we weren't so full, we could've bought an entire box to take home. Specializing in a selection of cakes, Plain Vanilla also had some items on display that you could buy, such as magazines and different objects for home decor. What I loved was their warm, inviting, homey atmosphere, and it was quite fitting to enjoy on that rainy afternoon.

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I'll see if I can include more posts from Singapore in the near future, but frankly, to write about every single place we visited would be unnecessary and exhausting and I'm simultaneously busy, and lazy, all at the same time, which really isn't an excuse, but there are other things to write about, so I'd rather just jump into those instead.

How was that for a run-on sentence?

Have a pleasant weekend.










seven days of gratitude

Monday, December 11, 2017


After writing down a Christmas wish list (followed by a midnight ramble that might seem a little rough), I also didn't want to let myself forget the importance of staying thankful first. Above all else, I think a spirit of gratitude holds a lot more power than we think.

On that note, after making a list of things I want, I decided to counteract it by making a list of things I'm grateful for. Since last Monday, I started this "seven days of gratitude" thing where I find something to be thankful for at the end of each day for seven days straight. Here are those results.

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monday // for free water bottles, and books that help distract us
As someone who drinks quite a lot of water, it's always very pleasant whenever someone just gives me a bottle of water for free. A friend of mine keeps a whole box of them in her car and once we're inside, she would offer us one, and always make sure we have our bottle with us once we step out of the vehicle. I love it. A teacher also offered me one when I was visiting her house that Monday night, and it's really become one of the little things that just delights me. Also, I'm thankful for books. Not only do they help distract us from overwhelming thoughts and responsibilities, but they also distract us from our phones. Which is why I consider novels as very reliable best friends, and reading as one of my favorite pastimes.

tuesday // friendships and cereal
On Tuesday night, I joined three of my friends on a long drive across town for a little prayer meet at church (for the record, not trying to whine about living an hour away from the location BUT ANYWAY). I've been thinking a lot about friendships and how they form and develop over time; mostly constructed by the random conversations and tiny pointless jokes people share. For the record, I think that when you have friends you trust, who make you laugh and accept you as you are, you're actually pretty lucky already. As for the cereal, I had a bowl of it for breakfast that morning, and realized it's been weeks since I last had one. So cheers to cereal.

wednesday // the fact that i have the luxury of learning how to cook
And my clumsy adventures in the kitchen continue. Wednesday noon, I realized that cooking things in a pan is simple, but trying to properly cut all these vegetables? Who has the time?? I can hold a paintbrush, a pencil, a camera; anything my hands are well familiar with. But holding a knife and working with it is downright frightening. Nevertheless, even though I found out I actually need to practice on these basic things, like peeling potatoes or dicing onions, which tests both my cutting abilities and my patience, I've been kind of enjoying it. (Or at least I have to, anyway.) The gratitude part is me being thankful for always having enough food at home that I get to learn all of this, and still prepare a decent meal for the family.

thursday // love and a ukulele
Yes, I'm grateful for love, and no, I don't mean the romantic type. I mean the kind of love you see in a mother carrying her toddler around because he just woke up from a nap. Or the kind of love you see in that toddler, his arms over her neck, his whole body clinging to his mother's like it's the safest place in the world. We had an early Christmas gathering with our extended family last Thursday and  it made me feel that–in the words of a great holiday movie–love, actually, is all around. Also, I'm thankful for the (slightly toyish) ukulele I keep in my bedroom, because it's always there to cheer me up with a few songs after a long day. Nothing quite like singing small renditions of Dream a Little Dream of Me until bedtime.

friday // life lessons from my mom, and a city
I have a lot of chats with my mom and plenty of those that I'm thankful for are the heart-to-heart conversations that make me learn so much. Our topics vary from dreams, to family, to my mother's admirable work-hard-and-do-good values. I'm glad I have a mother that doesn't only nurture me, but also guides me with a clear conscience and gives me solid, helpful advice to navigate the many paths my life may take. And I'm thankful for my hometown (although I'd much rather call it a city than just a "town"). I was never the child who moved around a lot and lived in multiple cities in her lifetime. Where I live now is where I've been my whole life. And as imperfect as it is, this city, with its overrated cafes, crowded shopping malls, and busy traffic hours, will always be my home.

saturday // therapy, in all forms.
Some people assume that I find the time to paint, write, or play music because I want to become better, or because I'm somehow very passionate and artistically inclined as a person. But as a matter of fact, the real reason I've been delving into these things is purely for therapy. Let's face it, life is hard and therapists are expensive. So instead, my mind has turned to therapy in other forms; reading, writing, painting, or playing whatever instrument within reach. Art/music therapy is a real thing, and it rarely disappoints. Painting a canvas with some jazz tunes playing doesn't necessarily solve all my problems but hey, it makes me feel better. Writing a long poem might not fix anything, but if it lowers anxiety levels then why not? Whether or not people can understand, I'm eternally grateful that I get to do the activities that can relieve my soul and help me breathe.

sunday // newspapers and colors
Then I blinked and it was Sunday. Firstly, I'm thankful that newspapers are still a thing. Clearly, in media, there's the "everything is digital" debate; how people nowadays would much rather read what's on their phones than anywhere else, further emphasizing the "print is dead" predicament. But I like holding onto the blind optimism that print will not die. Therefore, I think newspapers deserve a little more credit for still doing what they do. Second, I'm thankful for color. The very existence of it. I wore a blue shirt to church and it was a shade of blue I very much liked. My friend designed an entire outfit in tones of beige and brown, and it was very pleasing to the eye. Another friend wore a red sweater I found myself admiring from a distance because I just loved that specific shade and thought it looked nice. Other than that, I'm a photo enthusiast who has a lot of fun playing around with tones on Lightroom (visible through everything you see here or on my Instagram). I like adding warmth to my pictures, and I also like how a slight difference in hue gives a direct change in the mood we're trying to convey. In short, I just like colors.

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I assign myself tiny brain projects like these many times, but this one I really enjoyed. It's good to remind ourselves of the things (big or small) that simply make us glad to be alive.

That marks the end of today's post, and I'd totally recommend this to anyone who's willing to give it a shot. It's really become one of the sweetest parts of the day; crawling into bed at night with my mind trying to find the one or two things I'm most thankful for that day. Other times, these small thoughts of joy just surface like epiphanies. Do try it when you can. It can boost your positivity and make you think that whatever day you had, it may not have been that bad at all.

I hope I see you around.












midnight thoughts

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Restless is a word I'd use best to describe how life has been. I don't know if I think forming words can somehow bring more clarity, or if turning to writing can somehow make it all better. But I can try.

When I say "restless" I know it sounds like I'm becoming too busy; saying yes to too many tasks, or overworking myself to the point of insanity. Well, that's not entirely untrue, but unlike a college student, most of my unease doesn't feel physical at all. I can walk and sing and write stories just fine. I find time to read books, and I submit myself to sleep. Even though sleep doesn't help much when it's your soul that's tired.

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forty-eight

Maybe it's that anxiety of only having around 48 days left of living in the city and the house that I've been in my whole life. I know; everyone gets through this, Jo. You're not the only person to start a new life outside of your comfort zone. Just relax. Besides, 48 days is still quite far away.

Is it, though? Should I be bothered knowing that I could still vividly remember the lunch I had with my mother 48 days ago? And how I'll still remember this day, just as vividly, when I'm sitting in the airplane up in the clouds somewhere, 48 days from now? Don't we often forget how fast time can go, always only realizing it a little too late? Aren't things always gone a little too soon?

One day, I woke up in the morning and spent minutes walking around the living room we never even touch. I lean against the wall and take note of every detail I can think of; worn out curtains, the desk lamp they moved to the corner, the grand piano no longer in use. Spider webs hanging at the back of my father's paintings. A candle holder set that doesn't match the rest of the room. 

My head desperately tries, these days, to find things to keep in store. Like an animal preparing for hibernation, it's storing memories like food for the winter. Is this all just a product of my imaginative, over-exploring thought process? Am I losing my mind? When we feel like we're losing our minds, does that mean we're right?

heavy traffic

Rainy days invite heavy traffic to my hometown, and it's unbearable to most of us. Really, what's the point of wiping the raindrops with our windshield to see clearly when our car hasn't even moved an inch for the past 30 minutes. I don't know if it's the weather, or the holiday season. Or if a large number of people has somehow decided to migrate to my city, all at once. 

But anyway, when my mind is left somewhat unoccupied, it looks for things to fidget with. It can be in traffic, or in rainy evenings, or the few minutes before I finally go to bed, I just always end up in a state of- contemplating.

Like, gee, do people fail, or succeed, without the existence of adrenaline? Do hummingbirds ever get tired? Why does my eyeliner always get so smudgy after a few hours? Do mystery writers have a life? Is it possible if we stop the production of Miss Universe pageants altogether and use the money to fund education for girls worldwide? Does Santa also deliver gifts to Africa? What does it take to make good poetry? Am I too cold to ever write a nice poem?

You know, simple questions.

self acceptance

If my life was a school and every life lesson was set in a curriculum, Self Acceptance would be my straight-C subject. The teacher I hated listening to, the class I hated to sit in. "Love yourself! Accept your flaws! You are wonderful just the way you are!" A student placed in the middle of the classroom, simply sighs and rolls her eyes. And that student would be me.

It's come to my attention, today specifically, how often I see myself as "too much" of something. I'm too sensitive, too lazy, too unmotivated, too irrelevant, and my my, the list goes on. The fact that I can be too hard on myself most of the time is really no secret, but I don't sulk in it either. 

Like I said, I'm the student that sighs and rolls her eyes, and continues to sketch flowers onto her notebook because my God, she'd rather be anywhere else. Truth is, I can't always agree with the notion that "we are wonderful the way we are." Created perfectly in the likeness of His image, as people of my faith would remind me, but despite that, if I'm being honest, I definitely do not always feel so "wonderful."

The downside to being so demanding of yourself, while also attempting to give others your best, is that you put so many expectations on your abilities in the first place that when others place even the slightest expectation on you, you feel absolutely overwhelmed already. It's not a fun process. It's not always so great being the perfectionist that constantly sees themselves as inadequate. But hey, I'm trying what I can. That's as "wonderful" as it gets.

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Someone once said that it's both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply. As a newly-converted INFJ, it often feels like I now carry the weight of the world on my shoulders; a burden I never wished for, but couldn't let go of. Like when we never intend to hurt people's feelings but always end up doing so unintentionally. Like when we try to let our feelings guide us towards becoming a better person, yet always failing to execute. Experiencing the pain of your best friend like it's firsthand, or feeling a mother's cry before she lets it out. A blessing and a curse. I'd say so, indeed.

Restless is a word I'd use best to describe how I have been. I struggle to read books for too long; I can't go an hour without my mind wandering elsewhere. My prayers sound like badly translated telegrams; I pray for sick relatives and better days but my mouth would often fumble for words. If we look at our world, it seems like there's never enough time to pray for everything that's going on. A new scandal surfaces as you pray for hope in humanity, a new shooting takes place before you say another "Amen". I wonder what God wants us to do at times where we feel most powerless.

At this point, my writing will have already sounded very long-winded and incoherent. Partly I think it's because I've been restricting myself to only writing things that are really good or really important or include really nice pictures, and I've kind of forgotten what it felt like to write for therapy. Letting words pour out from that stream of consciousness and thought, and not filtering so much of what I want to express. To hell with the fear of oversharing, I really just want to write.

Many have urged me to write about politics, or the latest news, or simply for me to offer a glimpse of what's inside my thoughts again. As much as I'd like to, it's still very hard to create anything worthwhile when we feel so uninspired. I'm not always so bubbly, speaking truth in a firm, confident manner. My thoughts aren't always maps with clear directions. If people wish to hear about my thought process, well here it is. More often messy than it is well-worded.

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Lastly, friends, I hope you may excuse this tiny mid-week rambling session that's just taken place. I don't know if I think forming words can somehow bring more clarity, or if writing can somehow make it all better. I don't know if these small pieces of thought would mean anything to anyone. I don't know if my words can change the world, or change a heart, but it is more or less the same thing to me. I don't know if any of my random musings resonated with you in any way, but if it did, even just a little bit, then my friend, to me, that means everything already.

So I guess all that's left to say is- Happy Wednesday. Sleep well, take photos, allow yourself to feel, and it's okay to end a long night by watching funny 90s sitcoms. Become as much of yourself as you can, for that alone is a luxury, and smile at strangers even when they don't return it.

For whatever sense this made, may you have a lovely week.

I'll write again soon.

(text written in roughly 3 hours, finished at 1:49 AM, December 6th 2017)













what i really want for christmas

Saturday, December 2, 2017


It's happening, guys.

Tinsel, snow, and twinkling lights showing up in every corner. The overplayed (but delightful) Mariah Carey song making a slow and definite comeback. Cold weather and warm sweet drinks. Ugly sweaters and holiday sales. The time of year that makes my heart sing. The start of December; the sign of Christmas arriving.

This year has been crazy (as it always is every year) but thanks to Christmas, we always get to end each year on a sweet note. You know, it's like we can have the most chaotic, unpredicted, ridiculous year ever, but hey, Christmas! 

I love the holidays. And I realize that the energy surrounding the season is not just festive, but hopeful. With a good dosage of holiday cheer, people start to feel more optimistic; we put to rest whatever's past and faithfully anticipate what's about to come.


Also, it's a season of lists. And I don't mean the Naughty or Nice type; I mean the Christmas wish list that every child would proudly put up on their bedroom wall. Regardless of where we come from, the joys of December gives everyone a "treat yourself" moment. After such a long year, we feel we deserve to have some things on our wish list. Whether or not we manage to make it come true.

Back in school, I'd wish for a new sweater, a nice pair of boots, or something pretty to place in my bedroom. But as I've grown, it's probably going to be a little different. So without further ado, here's what's on my Christmas list this year:

- Emotional stability
- Family quality time 
- Better self-esteem
- Better writing skills
- Better politicians (and speaking of politics...)
- An end to Trump's presidency (In fact, let's end anything that only decreases our hope in humanity, please?)
- An end to systemic sexism (Is the safety of walking alone without someone catcalling you on the street, or taking into account the stories of victims of sexual assault, really too much to ask though?)
- An end to corruption (a girl can dream?)
- More women in positions of power.
- For people to start sending letters and postcards again.
- The ability to finish all my books in time
- And then for more books after I finish all my books in time.
- A button that turns off overthinking.
- A time machine.
- A ukulele.
- Well, a haircut would be nice also.
- And gosh, this dress.
- For someone to explain to me why there's a song titled "Twelve Days of Christmas"(If Christmas is on the 25th, and the wait to New Year's takes only six, so what does "twelve days" refer to? Who invented this concept and why did they leave such little explanation? How is the partridge on a pear tree supposed to solve anything? What am I missing? Questions left unanswered.)
- For Starbucks to start fixing their broken wi-fi routers.
- For supermodels to go out of style.
- For people who like to cut the line to stop their habit of cutting the line.
- For more trees in the world.
- For elephants to not go extinct.
- For airplane tickets to be free.
- A box of golden retriever puppies appearing at my doorstep on Christmas morning. (make it happen, Santa.)
- A brunch with Michelle Obama. (In fact, all the Obamas.)
- A Friends reunion episode.
- For people to spell & pronounce my name correctly.
- A visa, which I'm gonna need.
- This book, which I probably also need.
- And a cookbook for beginners, (or dummies. Or fully grown young adults who are only starting to spend time in a kitchen and trying to figure out how to properly hold all these kitchen utensils. In other words, dummies.) which I definitely need.
- Clear skin
- A tidier bedroom
- A tidier life, in general.
- But honestly,
- I just want to finish all my books in time.

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Hope you all have an exciting, joyful, lovely month of December. Remember to stay kind, love yourself, and not be afraid to wish for ridiculous things.

See you around.






singapore | the national gallery

Thursday, November 30, 2017

 

A bright afternoon and a large, beautiful dome. Staircases made of wood and glass ceilings that give way to sunlight. Walls that stretch upward and make you feel incredibly small. The National Gallery of Singapore; a grand art museum showing us the best of Southeast Asia.

The large gallery shows many pieces of Singaporean and Southeast Asian modern art, all a part of Singapore's National Collection. It serves a free entry for Singaporeans, but for foreigners, general tickets are $20 each (with some discounts available). The visual artistry is undeniably astounding; not just in the paintings, but in their architecture as well. With over 1.5 million visitors in a year, the institution's aim is not only to make the art accessible, but also shared and redefined in a global context.


Upon entering, the first thing we actually looked at was the gift shop to our left. One of the things I'm a total sucker for, other than large art galleries, are creative gift shops. It was your typical museum souvenir store; well conceptualized, colorfully displayed, and somewhat overpriced. But I loved examining them; artsy bits and bobs that you want but don't actually need. 

Do I want these pretty illustrated children's books despite the fact that I'm 18? Yes. Do I want a stack of postcards decorated with random Mexican paintings? Yes. Do I want an oversized print T-shirt matched with a tote bag with some clever words on it? Yes(In my head I successfully purchase all of these things but in reality I walk away after looking at the price tags.)


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First advice is to never enter the gallery without taking a map. When I said it was a large gallery, I meant it was gigantic. It's housed inside two restored buildings (the City Hall and former Supreme Court) serving as the gallery's two separate wings. Six floors each, dozens of rooms, and an additional basement that connects the two. 

I never get tired walking around art museums but this time, I was completely overwhelmed by how big it was. The insides were so spacious, the hallways so mystical, that I nearly got lost a couple of times, even with a map in hand from the start. It was like a sanctuary that swallows you up in its largeness. Despite spending many hours inside, I still (sadly) didn't get to see all of the artwork or sections of the place. As beautiful as it was, you probably needed to spend at least a whole day inside to experience the entirety of it.

So second advice (which I apparently only knew of after my visit to the gallery) is to make use of their Gallery Explorer app for free audio guides and to help you with navigation. (You're gonna need it, I swear.) If you think I'm going to come back to this place a second time to explore more of it and this time with a self-guided tour, you are absolutely right.

Bananas in a Basket (a) and Still Life - Flowers (b)
Abstract pieces titled Gamelan Orchestra (a) and Skyline of New York (b).
Above: Scenery painting of East Java. Below: The famous Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet.
Right: Merapi (At Day) and Merapi (At Night).

Within that time, I did catch a glimpse of the most beautiful artworks shipped in from many different locations in Southeast Asia. There were objects and portraits collected from the colonial era (as most countries here were ruled by several different European nations for years before claiming independence), with paintings that show the people in revolution, and themes varying from hope, to despair. Other than that, there was also a wide range of more modern work to enjoy; abstract pieces, geometric sculptures, and more.

The ones that really caught my attention were paintings of my own home country, Indonesia. Done by various artists, the pieces portrayed incredibly detailed local sceneries, such as local farmers at work in the afternoon with a mountain overlooking them from a distance. Looking into them, especially the ones labeled "East Java", touched me in a way no other painting in the gallery did. I was fascinated at first, but after a while, it gave a sense of– calm. It was like looking at home; the views of sunsets and rice fields were imageries that my heart recognized all too well. Big cities are pretty, but home speaks to you in a different way.

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The institution has many partners and often works with international museums to hold special exhibitions. Fortunately, I came while they had just started holding a SingTel special exhibition called the Century of Light

The section I was most eager to see from that was Colours of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musee D'orsay. I've always been a big fan of Impressionism, so when there was a special exhibition dedicated to specifically that, I knew I had to see it. I grew even more excited knowing that among the works of 19th century European artists included in the collection, Monet was one of them. I was in awe from the second I walked in.

I'm no art history major, but I will say this was my most favorite collection to ever see for myself. There are really no words for it; the widest range of colors and settings and moods and all of it encapsulated so elegantly in this exhibition. From winters in the suburbs of France to individual subjects each with different emotions and stories to tell, I just loved every bit of it.


Despite not having enough time to explore each and every corner of the institution, The National Gallery of Singapore is a place I'm definitely willing to go back to someday. Providing a different feel of seeing art that belongs closer to home, somehow the National Gallery has become a modern attraction, that celebrates history and heritage. A globally acclaimed centerpiece, that highlights roots and tradition. So if any of you fellow art enthusiasts happen to find yourselves in Singapore, it's definitely worth the visit.

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More posts from my trip in Singapore coming soon. I know I haven't been writing much lately but some things have been keeping me pretty occupied, inside and out. Nevertheless, there are still so many photos stored from my trip, so I can't wait to share my experiences with you soon.

See you around.






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