Friday, 16 December 2016

The Moon and the Sun

I have some old tags like 'music' and 'photography' lying around even though their original purpose - to indicate music I'm sharing, has largely been lost.

So let's make an exception today.

I'm playing it right now, instead of being at a big concert with a room full of mostly probably nice people but whom I probably clique less with. It's fine. I am very much in the mood for just relaxing by the room's fireplace and listening to chill instrumental SG music which I doubt Conor would like spectacularly but hey, it's ok. I don't expect very many people to like all this music anyway. People that I probably clique more with.

Honestly, this song is so... good. It's a particular kind of cheesy, like Explosions in the Sky I think, that is sincere because it is complex.

I'm playing Chocolate and the Lovelorn Girl now. So enjoyably cheesy soundtrack-y and all the things I can't describe and have yet to find, outside of Rifdi and Marcus, who enjoy it. And I think even Chocolate is very particular to me. It's almost like a song that literally only I like very much. It's what makes it so powerful and unforgettable.


Didn't have the stamina to finish that, maybe I'll post on the plane even though I don't want to.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Just Another Winter

An imbalance of chemicals in my bloodstream.

Last year, around the same time, the exact same (or very similar) thing.

But this is the harshness and beauty of the winter, or actually, the year's end, an arbitrary cosmological phenomenon with real artificial meaning. I have always known I'm exceptional. In a 'different' from other people kind of way. Part of the reason is an unforced error of instinct - the need to be contrarian, Nietzsche-like.

I have 7 minutes or so before my bus comes for me to move on.
Very dramatic isn't it? In the end though, I've always reverted to my favourite outlet - anger, music, and angry music. But also solemness and morality, because I know I couldn't be myself if I wasn't exceptionally, stubbornly ethical. It's obviously an arrogant thing to say, but I sometimes think other people, the more privileged perhaps, have never actually had to make an ethical decision. Such a decision is never the confluence of other good things, or selfish things and an ethical position. Such a decision only validates itself, 'strengthens' your ethical 'institutions' (throwing some poli sci here where the individual is the state) when they are diametrically opposed. When taking the hit is not what you want or what would benefit you short-term or superficially. But I know that for me, taking it has never been detrimental, nay it is what enriches my soul and have faith in my character.

And no, this isn't lying either, this is what I want. What I want, and have always wanted, is to do the right thing and not be sulky about it. If you are happy, I am happy - or fulfilled.

Time to put on the angry music and go to SPAC, maybe bang the drums.

Thursday, 8 December 2016


There are so many melodramatic sides to this title.

And I might be typing this prematurely; so I'm going to talk in code for a bit.

It might be obvious anyway.

A whirlwind of recent personal events, and I think they're all ending sober and sombre.

What I've wanted for so long, a while now, was freedom. There are many kinds but the kind I'm looking for right now will seem strange. It is the freedom of spontaneity - the freedom of having good fundamentals that allow you to act out. The insurance of and security of someone else to hold you and the freedom to give back. It's like  the security of having wealth so that you can be charitable without worry. The selfishness that makes selflessness easier.

I'll admit, this is jarring to write, and not be explicit, and maybe I won't even get to that. But I'll let me, and her know I guess, that at least for a while, that was painful, and it was because I guess, the cliché: I let myself be vulnerable.

That was the reason I was coughing so much, Chris.

Which I don't regret. But experience will give me the freedom to be angry and to empathize with people.

And I wish I had the freedom to be who I am right now, and the freedom to be like during DM, or during Agneska's party for a short while; the general freedom I feel now just being in this country - that when I go back I have the security of a few friends who might think I haven't changed or couldn't care if you did.

It sucks to lose it so quickly, but... c'est la vie, and at least I have the comfort of music.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016


I haven't written in a while, but the circumstances are too perfect.
I want to write - something poetic, and maybe I'll give it a shot later, but right now I think I'm just going to let my thoughts flow as always, about the things I wanted to say out loud maybe, to someone, but I know, or feel that here it will be lost. Here nobody will get get me. And no not the Singaporeans either - actually, I don't really think I've met someone whom I've shared much with.

I guess as our lives progress people diverge - naturally of course, until it becomes so difficult to find someone who has gone through the exact circumstances you have. That's pretty deterministic, but also empirical in my opinion. When you have social interactions with someone else - or I guess to put it more bluntly/laymen/without dramatizing - when you talk to someone else, you try to find common ground. You try to build some consensus or understanding, But this is very difficult without similar experiences or knowledge. This is why commonalities - hobbies and beliefs are so important. But outside of those things, at my core - it is difficult to say. Maybe I don't know myself what I'm 'all about' - and when would I know I've finally met someone who could empathize with me proper.

Sometimes - no scratch that, a lot of the times - I feel like I understand Steele. I wouldn't know of course, and it'd be presumptuous to believe 'I know better' in a sense. Actually, a lot of times I feel, I get a sense that I know exactly how, or think I know how someone is feeling, or going through when 'I was younger' in a sense. Maybe this is the irony - that it is precisely the belief in your ability to empathize that makes people not. I'm sure Aaron would agree with this sentiment. And another paradox - what's the point of going through experiences, the number one priority I have, if it doesn't amount to some ability to empathize?

Initially, this post was meant to be about the election but I got tired of writing it. Or maybe, like everything else atm, it's about priorities - academics, social life, personal hobbies, blogging and others kind of in that order. I wanted to write my feelings about Trump's win, which in all honesty was very shocking to me. Of course I believed Nate Silver, and I guess I believed most people would be turned off by some off his rhetoric - probably not as much as some others might, but I thought a decent chance of independents swinging his way. Of course, this vote was not about the independents, and it's also not about social decline. America has not changed, in some of its fundamentals, is what I, is what LKY believed. I do not consider his voters racists, bigots, etc. even though some of my friends do. And this is a problem. It has alerted me to my difference not just in politics but everything really.

And 'what do I know', right? I'm not even American! This is true, but actually, is anyone 'American'?, Is my liberal born-and-raised-in-city friend 'American' enough to understand the thoughts of the working rural poor and vice versa? I'm pushing back here - I think there is value in 3rd party, outsider insight. Because of those problems that I recognize though, I've always found it hard to kind of take a stand on things I don't 'play a part in' per se.

Meat just came downstairs and we had a little chat about what I was doing... well I get back to my room now, after a really cool talk.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Red Fingernails

I'm typing this with red fingernails. Like painted ones.

What is the meaning of always initiating first? Is it routine, or is it obligation?
I just came back from Rocky Horror Picture Show, a marvelous cult classic. I wish more freshmen had shown up. I also am pretty disappointed a party that happens every week (I mean sure this is Halloween, but there's the next few days) was preferred over this. And I know part of it is of course, peer pressure.

I think perhaps this is where my greatest annoyance comes from - dependency. It's not pretty, I know I have a strong support base and that I cannot live on my own, I know that I'm also affected by F.O.M.O, etc. Yet I cannot shake the feeling that I am more independent than many others. It could be true, given my age, my foreign-ness. But it can get lonely.

I know now that sometimes I feel this urge to deceive - because I want a deeper connection - and that it's unhealthy and I yet I've been excusing myself by saying I'm adapting. It's true that I am, but also that urge means that sometimes I've gone too far and I will eventually bear the consequences. I'm driven by this strong impetus to connect people, and be friends with everyone, and to show people that everyone is complex by being an example. My second deepest annoyance, (or first) - assumptions others make about others.

Other things - I think I've somewhat given up trying to convince people by contest. Maybe some wisdom is telling me Tolstoy was right, people can't be convinced.

My hair's still wait and the clothes are in the dryer, but it's so late.

I need to whip out my camera again.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


I have not thought this much of home in a while.
Or at least not in this pseudo-dramatic fashion.

The Apprentice was a really good film. (Not to be confused with the shitshow literally by Donald Trump) Throughout the film I was thinking about Junfeng's choices, and I was thinking about home. I recognized it all. And in the end the most feel-good films are about recognition, of tropes, of symbols, of people.

I recognized my and all my friends' and families' HDB flats. I recognized the buses and MRTs, the people, the language, the food, the sights and sounds. I don't know where to begin.

To begin on feelings of being foreign here, to begin on how Singaporean am I really, to begin on my perceptions of other Singaporeans here, Singaporean-ness in general, the whole shebang reminding me of when I questioned my otherness to other AEP students probably only to realize the irony of it.

I can't blog without digressing. And honestly I should be working, as always.
The intimacy and closeness I felt with the genuinely Singaporean character of this film, past race, language, or religion truly, was not lost on me. Some combination of pride, nostalgia, duty, entrapment even. I have always been genuinely optimistic about the weakness of cultural barriers at a certain socioeconomic level (and I am fully aware of my privilege here) but unwilling to give up this individuality that I know is the last step of true assimilation here. Because I love my country, I love it's music, food, people and vibes. I love my neighbourhood and my family and friends. I love all these things despite.

Quintessentially my personal, superficial human problem I've always had is loneliness in a romantic sense. But I recognize that my ambitions and principles don't align very nicely at all. In a sense, if I were to think about a serious relationship I would be asking my partner to firstly stay in Singapore (which is fine if they're Singaporean) but also if I were to join the foreign service... a huge burden and sacrifice that I'm unwilling to place on my partner for pure feelings of egalitarianism. I cannot ask my spouse to do the stereotypical 'sacrifice for husband's career' nonsense because I genuinely want to be part of the progress of gender equality, but also because my character is not to ask for someone's favour.

That was a difficult point to make not least because I'm basically revealing a serious intention that can come off as too strong should a future partner read it. But I guess that's what I signed up for following a principle of honest and open blogging. Obviously things change and people will be mature about it.

This leaves only kind of short-term, for-fun relationships. And I'm not the most sure where I stand on that. Probably ok with it. Credits to Maria and Agneska for helping me to re-evaluate all of these things.

And then there's my otherness. There are certain habits that I do not shake, and attitudes I have not shed. Thankfully this fraternity, genuinely open as it is, gave me space to be myself for the most part. But I do think about it. I've come to realize that somehow, I'm not just different than locals, but different from Singaporeans in a significant way. It's a little lonely sometimes that in my effort to essentially not fit, and be middle of so many things, I'm probably just kind of an aside for most people. But I risked it, I chose to constantly push my comfort zone.

This has all been a long time coming, and I still can write more. Let's go on for a bit.

I miss ISRC and old groups of friends. But I also love being in this fraternity for its essential qualities. I wish it didn't have to be this way at all yet know why it is. I know that many things live in some fantasy optimistic land and this is how I learn - in compromise. My ex-roommate has always brilliantly put things that my current roommate has not yet talked to me about.

I feel it deeply, I'm more like non-frat people than frat people yet because I chose, my agency makes me a frat person. Does that make sense? I've always thought choice in the end, was what mattered most: not your inclinations, upbringing, some pseudo-psycho-determinism. But I know that if I did live at Jess/Agneska's place I would be more comfortable, but the insatiable hunger would remain.

Maybe it all boils down to this: I'm here on a clock and so I never feared to try because it would essentially reset. I'm here as an observer and participant, and in the end my blog is my true space and true self. I regret only somewhat that I did not choose the path more traveled, and I think in my dying days I will have more inner vitality than if I concentrated solely on academics and things I knew.

Thank you Ben for the instant laksa (which I'm eating now because I guess you could say it's a good first occasion), and thank you for your time if you're just a random reader.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The second sex

I guess I didn't have the heart to start my homework till I've recorded some of the passion I have for this stupidity.

The thing with women is,

they are smart, stupid, dedicated, lazy, creative, dull, deep, superficial, strong, weak, independent, needy, skilled, mediocre, funny, lame, adaptable, inflexible, loyal, flaky, disciplined, turbulent.
They are varied in character and aptitude, they are full human beings, and so don't tell me about locker room banter or apparently 'alpha male boasting'. This is not 'natural' for boys (it's not unnatural either, mind you). If you don't mean what you say, why are you saying it?


Painted my door for 10 hours instead of doing homework.
Retiring before starting my career apparently.


Lately been unable to pen down my thoughts even though they are important, mostly about how I've changed, or 'reacted'? I wish I had the time to make more people smile. I wish I was as clear as a person, but deep in my guts is a gene built for refusal.

It was strange that Dom thought I was hard to read... then again I guess I haven't exactly heard people saying I'm easy to read(?)

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Hierarchical and Institutional Power

The title was just the answer which I never got to say in class today.

In truth I wanted to blog yesterday immediately after seeing Mel again in a while. It was really nice catching up with her and frankly just nice to have a long 1-1 conversation with another person again. I brought this up with Steele just now, another reason why they are important to me. It's because I can really bring out the person, their unique character, I can know them, for their strengths, flaws and aspirations, I can experience the fullness of their being. Sometimes I wonder if I'm too dramatic in spirit for my own good (probably). This is what separates me from 'the typical Singaporean', or maybe not, because I don't truly know what goes on in other people's minds. I just know there is a deviance that is apparent in Karen and Yi Hai, and Tze Yang... there is depth I can feel.

I wasn't sure what to make of it honestly, we both know it was a little awkward avoiding the rootbeer keg in the lounge kind of - that we have some history, however brief. Wasn't sure if I would have liked it to have been mentioned, maybe closure, or no. I still like her, but I know somehow it won't work, not really. Given some different circumstance, or some later time, who knows. Or you know, maybe she doesn't really care about that anymore, which could certainly be the case. But I have so much respect for how mature she is, and how the relationship was.

I've aged a lot since then... I don't know if I'll fit it in anymore, going back. It tires me to think about how all the friends I've made here will be gone... it tires me to think about how much of a prick I used to be. It really is just tiring to be alone. Yet the ugliness of it, I've also become more aware of - that I'm selfish, that I'm picky and that I'm not as ready to give up my individuality and freedom as much as I used to think. In the end, so many things are ephemeral.... I just thought about how I didn't give Daniel my blog, even though I wanted to once. Am I just looking for permanence in age?

Monday, 5 September 2016

C'était un bien jour

J'admis j'ai pris beaucoup de verres. Je n'ai pas beaucoup de temp. Aujourd'hui, c'était un bien jour. J'ai fait quelque nouveaux amis et j'ai fait quelque 'meilleurs' amis... Le fait est que pendant notre vie, il y aura des jours comme aujourd'hui - spontané, mais les mieux de nos vies. La vie quotidienne! Mais j'ai peur que je suis la seule personne qui peut se sentir ça. J'ai peur comme tout le monde, que on est seulement la personne qui comprend l'importance de 'maintenant'.
Mes cheveux est encore mouillés. Mais je suis très fatigué.

I wish for so much. And I know not much.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016


I haven't done this for a long time. Blog because I'm sleepless.

Would I want something like soma in this world?

Would I be OK with a perfect and just robot master?

... These books I'm ingesting, of course I wish I could share it with someone. Josiah is great on that, so glad to have him as a friend.

And why are we sleepless?

Is it physical, mental, both? The messy complicated both is probably always the answer.

I had a great time with Grace before she leaves, but after every 1-1 I have with people, without fail I would feel something unanswered or unsaid, and yet I still long for these conversations, maybe because I always feel that lingering hunger for...

For substance.

It's what I think drives Karen as well. That hunger for something... real, meaningful, impactful... no matter how many synonyms, substance is really the word I'm looking for. Weight as opposed to lightness. Kundera makes a good case that what we fear isn't heaviness... things like grief and fatigue, even though they are painful. It is routine, hedonism, airiness and meaninglessness that scares us...

And it's this substance I'm missing right now. What Steele thought was ennui and boredom, but I feel that it runs deeper than he describes... he wants drive, purpose and passion, he wants something to wake up to and tire from. I want it too Steele. And no lies, I feel sometimes that having someone to care for would fulfill that purpose for me.

So now, buried in my books... I dredge on longingly. Et la nuit continue. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Brave New World

So many themes in this book, and precious little time I have to blog since I have to do my last few french assignments. I'll probably fall back to starting a post and procrastinating until I've already run out of fresh thoughts and good things to say (why I have no confiance en soi as a writer).

^As expected, I'm only writing this now, having lost all motivation to talk about the book since picking up Asimov's I Robot. Brave New World was a very good read that was compelling and engaging philosophically at every turn. The dichotomy between John Savage's beliefs and those of the inhabitants of 'civilization' were not just big-picture but strikes someone as personal, going in their irrational core of what is good and what is wanted. You'd probably have to catch me right after reading the book (and short stories of Asimov) though because I lose my thoughts to my unconscious so quickly as the Summer draws... to a close.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Life has to go on

"Human life occurs only once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which are bad is that in a given situation we can make only one decision; we are not granted second, third or fourth life in which to compare various decisions." ~The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

I am reminded of what my roommate said before about the source of sadness. He shared his idea that sadness manifested in our dreams and imagination, He said our ability to contemplate what could have been, had we done this or that. is sadness. Perhaps he was inspired by book I quoted above and which he gave me as a present later.

I lived life happily then, if that were true, because I didn't look back, I took the imperfections as implicit in our decisions and circumstance. Life goes on, as Robert Frost puts it, perhaps tragically. But it's all really dramatic isn't it. Maybe it's summer that gets me in this mood more than winter for others. So much time and still no time.

It's painful to remember the fear in other people's eyes and behavior. When she sat across, when she leaned on me and then jerked away (maybe it was just my shoulder blades). Do you realize how painful that is? What is it that they're scared of? The answer I guessed is painful. You are left with a conundrum to put your best foot forward or share like they wanted you to.

It's always bitter sweet to watch a choir perform, because of the aforementioned fake-nostalgia-sadness-thing-that-my-room-mate-said. I'm reminded of the choices, not going to VJC where I would have been an assured Tenor, trying but failing to get into RJC's choir (and student council for that matter), writing my sad little goodbye (very dramatic, very pretentious) because I knew. I knew then that the people who carried on the tradition of singing would find themselves their family there, their happiness and identity, and I would walk away into the woods by myself, with my camera, and a pinch of angst.

But life has to go on.

It will. and I'll say it, with the rock and jazz playing in the background. It doesn't wait for us, time. It shoves on relentlessly with the others, churning the coincidences, and I can't wait.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Li Keen Alone

In my head I've blogged a thousand times.

But some stubborn ambition to write in French, and some stubborn fear of vulnerability again.

I'm pretty stubborn. Not that stubborn.

Barely anyone has used my real name in a long time... and so I've come to... j'ai su...it's power. The last time it was used was by Ben, which wasn't surprising since he's Singaporean, but then my French professor also used it in a confusion over my name. What I've come to realize is it's... split personality. It's not just a name, as only those attune to their intuition would comprehend. It is an era... Leeks! has an exclamation mark for a reason! It's hysteria, it's positive madness, it's fuck it let's do this! I recently asked Grace if she thought, as some do, that people had a 'core', some natural personality that we either discover or repress, she didn't think so. I don't think so. But it's pseudo-there. It's the condensation of your history, it's your experience that cools over time...you don't start with one, but you will get one...I've got one.

It's Li Keen Alone.

As usual I digress and jump around in my thoughts. I'm reminded of a brotherhood event... the details cannot be revealed but it's enough to say that I shared about Li Keen Alone. The camera (Daphne) wielding observer, the person who read(s) and wish he had the patience for more, the poet, the In Each Hand A Cutlass and Explosions In The Sky fan. The reason my MBTI is both I and E.

On a side-note, do you know that feeling of saying or typing your own name? When you say it in your head... that awkward, alien-ness to it? I guess some people don't feel it, the way they post "what are some typical ____ lines"; I have no trouble saying I, or filling my name on a test... but to call out my name, in my head...

Mais...la vraie raisonne pour ce post(?)

Ok everything's honestly a reason to post.

But the impetus, the milestone was finishing The God of Small Things.

I'm losing steam as I type.

The title appealed to me immensely... but I jumped into it thinking it was going to be an American Gods magical realism novel, and it isn't/wasn't. (People recommend based on what they've shared they've read, so I thought it was a link to Kafka/Murakami, j'oublie que j'ai aussi partagé mon histoire avec Kite Runner et Curious Incident.)

It made the first few chapters hard to swallow... difficult to follow...I'll read tomorrow...it's a book I borrow... ok I'll stop now...sorrow.

But it definitely grew on me, and now I've thought Two Thoughts:
1. I need to read Bridge  to Terabithia
2. I've forgotten so much of Kite Runner...
The latter is not uncommon, I can barely remember phantom tollbooth, save for a lingering good feeling... save for a memory of happiness and emotion. This pains me immensely... that I/we so easily forget except for some small/big things, and emotional memory. It's true, I can't remember 1984 as well as Animal Farm either. Was it a waste? If you're happy in a dream, does it count? This I guess, is what underlies photography... searching for those nuggets... the small things.

But of course they matter. What's in your working memory is but a fraction of your being. Somewhere in that messy subconscious, BFG, Enid Blyton, a just thought of a book and then lost it, thereby ironically proving my point somehow(?) they all mix around in a cocktail, rojak, whatever  you want to call it. Tuesdays with Morrie, that's the one...

I think it's time I go to bed. 21 chapters later, and I've left with Li Keen Alone, Two Thoughts, a Person-Shaped-Hole-In-The-Universe.

#81 The God of Small Things
Why not. It was a good book.
I intended to just have an umbrella 'books' thing, but it doesn't really do justice to the splendor and uniqueness of every book I've read...
Cheers to a book that saw me through some summer evenings; it'll be remembered here in a list of small things...

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Je pense donc... j'écris

Je vais essayer d'écrire en français.

Je viens de finir l'insoutenable légèreté l'être par Milan Kundera et comme d'habitude, je me sens la mélancolie. C'est une émotion bien décrit par la protagoniste dans "le quatorzième quartier" (le dernier court métrage du film Paris, je t'aime) C'est la même émotion on se sent quand on finit quelque livre. Il est probable que je continue à penser au livre au cours des prochains jours. Cependant, aujourd'hui, je veut partager ma réflexion sur le film.

Après j'ai vu le premier partie du film le dernier mercredi, je pensais que "le bastille" serais mon court métrage favori. Le court métrage représente un couple d'âge mûr. Au début du court, l'homme veut partir sa femme pour sa maîtresse mais il changer son avis parce que sa femme a une maladie en phase terminale. Ensuite, il redécouvre son amour pour elle parce que "a force de se comporter un homme amoureux, il devient un homme amoureux." J'aime bien cette phrase, mais je n'aime pas que la femme est toujours la demoiselle en déstresse.

Mais le jeudi, je change mon avis.

(continué de mardi)

Maintenant, je préfère le dernier court avec la factrice américaine. Je réfléchis parfois, si je ne trouve jamais personne pour moi. Une personne plus dramatique que moi peut être croit: je ne survivra pas, je vivra désespéré. Mais je sais c'est faux pour moi. Le poète Robert Frost dit: en trois mots, je peut résumer tout j'ai appris au sujet de la vie: la vie continue. J'aime beaucoup aussi la scène a la fin du court au parc. Je comprends complètement la protagoniste. De plus, parce qu'elle est touriste américaine, typique et amusante, ses mots sont profond d'autant plus. Elle est l'humanité de nous tous. Son expérience ans un pays étrange par elle même est universelle. C'est la raison sa français simple est très significative.

C'est fatigant.

Saturday, 18 June 2016


I don't know why but I suddenly thought of JLOC today...
JLOC felt... dreamy. And I searched for it on my blog only to find it was missing.
I didn't talk about it, in other words. And yet when I thought about it today I was hit a very intense nostalgia.

^I delayed this post because of exams... can't remember when I had that moment.

But it sure as hell still warrants a post.
We start with big ambitions, get filthy rich, save the world.
Some with skill, hard work and circumstance go far.
The rest of us... need no fret. Mediocrity isn't a sin, nor is it really what it is.
I was not meant to be the best platoon commander, nor some break out OCS star. But I did my work diligently, thanklessly... and here I think the wisdom of War and Peace appears again. I wasn't trying to be the best, I was humble, affable, positive... apart... like Dance Marathon. I was... the best I could be, and that Leeks was recognized in that small gift of being the top cadet in the junior logistics officer course. In that small quiet corner of Kranji, tucked away afternoons among a handful of other background workers, the logistics officers... It reminded me of how I also came to lead photography club without really asking for it. These things will always remind me to stay humble in the background... to leave quiet legacies, to find inner peace and positivism, to affect change in our own humble ways.. It's so hard to describe this notion and feeling... to appreciate the things around you and what you have and who you are. It is lonely though, which is why DM and JLOC were perhaps... my happiest moments. Because I was genuine and others appreciated me for it. I was not alone in inner peace.

This is quite possibly the most abstract piece I've written in a while... But nostalgia, fleeting feelings of innocent, genuine joy... is just hard to find and harder to describe. The imagery... of evening sunlight spilling into a window, of rain and contemplation, is perhaps the best way to describe it.

Thursday, 2 June 2016


This is why you can't/shouldn't ask people to just be 'honest' or speak on a whim all the time. What you're getting is not 'honesty' but instinct, you are asking for answers given imperfect information and expecting the reply to be perfect or to be considered. Of course it's not going to be. Thoughts are considered so as not to be irresponsible. But it was my bad, I was led on, and it's hard to be absorbed and considered at the same time, it's hard to be in the flux and not be tossed and out of the flux but lonely and stale.

I didn't expect this much unexpectedness. (Duh) but I'm well aware that perhaps that will always feel like the case. I am matured enough to understand that I cannot be selfish here, it's not ethical. But it seems like a fundamental problem now more than a matter of adjusting. The power imbalance seems a little tipped at this point.
I wonder if I should speak to someone about this.

Monday, 30 May 2016


Original title of post: The inevitable darkness
Why do I give 'mean' people a chance?
Because it is not easy. I cannot say this with any authority for I'm no mind reader but I know what's in my own head.
This is why I think people are foolish when they say they wished people, or themselves, were more like Andrei. I do not think these people understand the kind of unhappiness this entails. Andrei is unhappy because he can see his honest flaws and limitations after chasing lofty ideals for himself and sometimes others. And it takes simple courage and wisdom to accept the human condition per se. These are the people who know, who say its OK that you were mean or said something wrong. These are the people who laughs cynically at the people who believe themselves saints but also admire their optimism. These are the people who are frustrated when others judge others for not meeting expectations, who are constantly aware of their own inner darkness. But no, while this darkness sometimes leads to despair, it is also something human in that optimism, that starts with awareness.


It is walking into Allison
And being able to tune
In and out

Of the ambient noises

To hear yourself think
And think clearly

Smiling wistfully
In galling satisfaction

Then checking yourself
Remembering that you
Are like each
And everyone

Saturday, 21 May 2016


I was asked this by Derrick in the frat, jokingly of course. But I guess we all know jokes are meant just a little how we might instinctively feel, be it prejudiced or not.

Somethings come with age, but people deceive themselves into thinking that everybody follows their path in maturity, another loaded term. There are as many paths as there are many people. And while I won't call you childish, or immature for believing that there is such a thing as maturity or not, or that you should necessarily stop watching cartoons and playing video games past a certain age.

Ok that was way over dramatic, as he might rightly point out. It was just a jest after all...
I guess in your smugness you've failed to see I don't necessarily need to compare myself to everyone around me to 'see how I'm doing in the maturity scale'. You just do your own thing, and be at peace with yourself at last.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

You are unique, just like everyone else

A tribute/response to good writing.


We are all different in the same ways.

We rebelled against 'fashion', grungy teen and young adult culture borrowed entirely from the West, against pop music which all the radio stations played, against the cheesy Chinese and Korean dramas that people incessantly watched for the same plot. We romanticized the hidden gems, the culture hiding in plain sight; 50 years on, we're still looking for independence. So we looked for local. We looked for what was neither Chinese or American. But the truth is we detested any kind of subscription. We couldn't see why anybody couldn't see they were part of the masses. We neither liked the incumbent nor the opposition, we believed we understood why there was a conflict in the first place - because nobody can be certain of being totally correct. So we dressed to show we didn't care about dress. Shirts, shorts and slippers. A lot of black, a lot of free t-shirts. We prided ourselves at living frugally.

The down-to-earth, hawker centers of Singapore called to us, beckoning with great local food, and some feeling of 'genuine culture'.

We loved the idea of an indie band. We wanted to be special, to discover a new philosophy. The musicality of some bands lacked depth of talent, a fact we detested. The balance of tones and bass notes reeked, the electric guitar wasn't too bad. The instruments were usually top notch, and it was always the Singlish accent that caused discomfort. Were we uncomfortable because they sound bad, or because they all tried to sound as white, as western as possible to correct their local tone? Are they mainstream yet? We knew them first. You could've said they were a good band, but we bought their album from a live show that at first there were only 20 of us, and now it''s 300. We used to play them on our phones all the time, though it was replaced, in awkward disappointment, for better indie bands overseas.

We wanted people to hear what we're hearing but deep inside knew we feared losing being special, we hated ourselves a little for that pettiness. We dreamt of jamming out in our own bands, making our own designs; higher art would probably have been considered frivolous in our society, yet it was the most academically rigorous. We tasted the scam in overpriced bubble tea and coffee, we treasured the local haunts, the hidden gems of local cooks and their family recipes. We ranted at expensive food with small portions, most of them 'western'. As if that aglio olio was better quality than the minced meat flat noodles. We felt bitter, but we knew it sustained itself in some galling satisfaction that we were better because we were just different. We were trapped.

We felt like self-proclaimed vegans and vegetarians were fads, paying lip-service in their privilege affording expensive 'healthier' options. We didn't understand expensive haircuts, expensive branded clothes, all franchised, all from the latest fashion magazines. We didn't understand praying to our ancestors, to praying to little statues of smiling fat men nor wooden statues of emaciated thin men on crosses. We hated the rat-race, the education system that perpetuates it, while respecting our teachers for their underpaid sacrifice.

We hung out with cynicism, people like us, people who disliked the dystopia outside, and would much rather eat, sleep and play video games, fiercely defend our nerdy disposition. We found solace in each other knowing that we weren't the only ones not going to the club to waste money and listen to lousy music while bobbing up down with people pretending they know how to dance. We disliked people who complained about 'trivial' things like the weather, but we were complaining about those people all the same.

Our grandparents sent us money in red packets, telling us to be doctors, not to get a boy/girlfriend until we finished our studies. We believed our art and music weren't that great, so we never dreamed, and would never know if our parents would have shown us their expected grimace or smile with pride. We chided and mocked people who were following their passions. We were trapped.


I intentionally paraphrased, even copied parts entirely; not that it matters much, but narrative credit to Alex.


"You're fucking naive." But really who knows these things? I honestly have no response, and I obviously am not the best person I could be. Are you? Have you considered that I don't have the benefit of being brought up a liberal? I'm no genius either, and I don't remember everything I've read. If speaking my mind only elicits judgement, then am I to endure it for being who I am? Hedonism can seem faultless at times. But it's true, and I'm sorry if I don't know the world as well as you do.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Nikolai and Andrei

I included Nikolai (Andrei's dad) because I wanted to talk about mine, before it's a little too late.

So my dad's lung cancer has relapsed, and we're at the 'prolonging his life' stage. How do I feel about this? How am I expected to feel about this? The same thoughts always plague me when I contemplate impending death in the family. My parent's were never shy about it; c'est la vie, was their philosophy. I remember my dad joking during funeral rites even heheh...


"Obviously trying to entertain a guest with whom he now found nothing in common." Page 438 War and Peace. Sometimes too real Tolstoy. Too real bruh.


I intended to write about me identifying a lot with Andrei as a person, but I think I actually need to devote time to reading it now rather than blogging...


#82 My Dad
Is a simple man in the simplest sense.
Some might call him lazy, lacking will, maybe my mom would.
But I am the son of both my parents, and I understand him more than perhaps even my mom could.
Simple does not mean stupid. It means content, few wants perhaps.
It's somewhat hedonistic, yet isn't hubris-tic.
He works as a civil servant, a humble profession that he does with diligence (I think).
And he is someone who will surprise you with his intelligence because he does not seek to flaunt.
Humility tempers his measured words of deep thought and he has a treasure of experience one might not expect from a Singaporean-Chinese man born before independence. He is as much a man of his time as LKY is, the Singaporeans who punch above their weight.
The truth is, I have never probed his mind deep enough to know these things, but I feel it as a son does. I feel it when I ask him about Prince or Credence Clearwater Revival, and he can tell me all about his favourite songs and artists back in the day. I feel it when he matches me in chess and scrabble, at first always winning, and eventually always losing in tiredness and falling asleep after games. I feel it in his excitement over the great local cuisine at $4, and his annoyance at wearing expensive suits and attending black ties... I feel it. I love you dad. And I wish we had more time together.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


public class Dictionary {
    public class DCell {
         int key;
         DCell next;
         DCell prev;


I'm not sure which bothers me more, losing a very expensive suit-jacket, or less expensive but more meaningful (to me) set of keys. All I can say is that it was my fault, but perhaps I expected more kindness and help? I always tell myself to give the most and expect the least, but perhaps I've touched a limit to stoicism here. I have lost some faith in humanity, for real. And I've taken on so much personal sacrifice... I don't know. I'm out of breath here. Sometimes you just really really wonder, and get frustrated, is it worse for other people? Really? Or at least amongst your peers?

I mean, I just spent $30 on ubers, and 2 hours of my midterm studying time to make a police report that might amount to basically nothing but cold, sarcastic stares and remarks from a random police officer whom I can empathize with frankly (he's probably had a shitty day or has had to deal with shitty people in his life). I don't know what I was expecting, maybe Batman-esque, crime novel, miraculous case solving. Now I have to deal with perhaps not getting anything back.


Not in the mood right now. Sorry Agneska. I'm not as strong, nor wealthy, for that matter.


The truth is, I'm dealing with more than 1 issue right now.


Sometimes I wonder if people pity or judge me - why are you being so cold? Why are you being low energy right now? Does this guy even want to talk to me? I'm not sure how to respond. You caught me at a bad moment pal.


I know I have a vengeful spirit. It comes when you feel powerless (both the lack of, or just less powerful). It is unhealthy, I know! Would you not be trapped in such a mental state too given my circumstances? Maybe not, then kudos to your genes and upbringing. Maybe I wasn't so fortunate, but I keep trying. I'll always fight.


What is it about me that I need to change?


I want to acknowledge more great talks, with Pumai and Marcus, and Yams.

Monday, 25 April 2016


This post is for the missed chances. If there is such a thing.


I talked with my roommate again. I enjoy his musings and quiet, contemplative company, and wish I could reciprocate in mandarin. He is a good friend and gentle soul. If I could, I would give him more time and more hugs.

We talked about Robert Frost's road less traveled, or at least I did. With Pumai back then too. I was trying to explain that people misinterpret the poem as some inspiration to be 'daring' or an 'outlier'. The truth is that I was mistaken as much as everyone else. The poem was conceived as almost ironical - Frost was demonstrating our minds tendencies to fantasize and obsess over missed opportunities at what not. They are unchangeable and contingent, we move on a whim.


Although I feel... dissatisfied as a whole (I am not complaining) I loved talking to Alex on our way to World Market and back, stopping for coffee (duh). Sometimes she would stare into space, and I'm honestly left a little lost - am I boring? Or too uncomfortable in silence still? Regardless, I tend to 'over-find' meaning in simple excursions like that. Over-eager melancholy perhaps. And once again I failed to stop myself from sharing too much of my thoughts. I lust for knowledge and connection.


Yet another HTHT, this time with Shanshan. She's very thoughtful and sweet/charming. And actually hilarious. Hanging out with Singaporeans have always left me feeling warmer and steadier. "But...but, they're girls!" was the honest to god, simple answer that I needed.


I was looking through my blog statistics when I realized to my dismay I ignored YY's comment in an earlier post. I supposedly pride myself a little in taking care to address everyone and yet I failed to see that...fuck. What a missed chance at good conversation if she doesn't reply... I still remember going with YY to the museum and having delicious honey latte nearby, and her blog is always a joy. If only there were more time for that. If only I was paying attention instead of wallowing in self-doubt at the time.


#83 Samurai Jack
Another cartoon reminder.
Samurai Jack is perhaps my favourite cartoon of all time. Even before Naruto and his dramatic 'overcoming' of everything, Jack was quietly, stoically overcoming. I identify strongly with those moments of solitude and hidden strength, his wondrous adventures meeting strangers that would become friends, that he would serve unquestionably and nobly. I was taught, for better or for worse, by cartoons like Samurai Jack. Artfully silent and beautifully unique, Jack was alone in a messy and foreign world, and he felt real in his struggle to hold on to his beliefs and fortitude. The villain Aku, being part comic relief, served as a nihilistic reminder to me, that we can laugh over drama too, and yet those values we hold are still important. The show was never finished, and even that is symbolic. The cartoon will be missed.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

What ifs

Had a deep conversation with Pumai. Bruh is real. And I am sad in the unsustainability of ideals.


Although slightly petty, I think I need to talk about Peter. Peter reminds me of myself in many ways (I mean, most people do in some ways, c'est la vie) and yet, to reference Tolstoy yet again, I feel like the later, tempered and more down-to-earth Andrei, while Peter is still convinced of how the world works in a certain way, or at least should follow a certain way. I used to be early for all my meetings, made sure everything was neat and tidy, turned off all the lights and wiped the board and pushed in the chairs in class, and to a large extent, still do. But I no longer hold others to that standard, and have checked my own foolishness in trying to achieve unnecessary perfection in certain things and rules. Of course, I cannot say that either me or Peter is right intrinsically, mais bien sur, I am convinced of my own views. Perhaps I have to once again be convicted in certain ideals, but how can one be if convinced that you know nothing really? But truly, we are opposite results of the same core.


I loved that conversation with Daniel... dam he's great to talk to when he's drunk.
I had this sense, that if we were really to talk, on a personal level, we'd actually find so much in common, and I wasn't mistaken. And the truth is, I feel this way with so many people, and it is just such a tragedy that I cannot let each and every one of them know this, or that even if we were different, that I'm willing to share and indulge them in deep conversation.
The question was whether to be open or not, and the answers were understandably vice versa for us; he was more closed and wanted to be open, and I the opposite.


I just recalled something from so long ago...about Nurul Farahin. I remember I had a dream about her and I actually wrote a written email of apology. Man you have no idea how much impact Zhen Ting made on me.


The 'friendzone' is a derogatory/patriarchal term; I will never use it. But the pain of imbalanced relationships is real; but I will never show it. Respect your promises and respect your friends' decisions.


What Could Have
Have you ever thought
What could have?
Have you, I guess not,
I should have...

If only you could see
There's no fate, no mystery
We're not meant to be
That's not the key

All it takes is time
On quiet afternoons
Simplicity is fine
We don't need full moons

Mais je me suis trompé
We had different visions
Il faisait soleil

Saturday, 16 April 2016

West to Easter: Eastest

Two conscripted officers, in a cemetery in America, talking about Singaporean politics.
More bizarre, these two guys haven't spoken in years, nor did they talk very much even back home. Do you have friends that, while you were in the same class, or same residence, or same student group that you didn't talk to very much in that group... but then once you've left you find yourself in a situation to connect with them, and you do. And you are reminded of all the possibilities and things said and unsaid, and it's a little sad. So it perhaps is, with this little excursion on the east.

Han Yang was my armskote bro. Fellow support officer with a positive outlook and similar sense of humor in some regards. I think we both knew we would make good friends, if given the time, less stress, and similar vocations. But he went off to engineers and I to signals. And so surreal it is, to have met him in Boston, our first stop being a cemetery. You'll never get a more international experience than that. I guess I romanticize 'hidden' or 'unexpected' or 'unseen' things, a little unhealthily at times, because people think I'm weird or not interested in the mainstream(?). And honestly who would have thought me and Han Yang would have met again in such quirky circumstances and hit it off immediately. ENFJs place so much value in everyone, it can hurt not to be reciprocated, or what is perceived as unrequited companionship. But I won't whine or be bound by such statistics, they are merely guides to understanding.

I spent the whole morning and afternoon with Han Yang, eating great food, exploring the city, and talking at lengths about Wesleyan and Northwestern, Singapore, our lives. It was so heartening to hear Han Yang open up to me like that. He's a kind a generous person and is unafraid of his flaws. We talked about college bubbles, our own bubbles. How crazy awesome Americans (actually just humans with the right mind-set) are. And course, all the unsolicited Singlish spam, that inevitably attracted the attention of another Singaporean who happened to be in the same restaurant. Language and accent is powerful stuff. The cemetery was beautifully calm and unfortunately closed (just the tower don't worry), my luck had to run I suppose.

And then, Ash. I know I've romanticized pretty much everybody in this series of posts, but it's only because I value and admire all of them in their own different ways, and it's a little awkward to express them elsewhere. But also, seriously, Ash was like the climax of the trip (ew), ok highlight of the trip. Ash was the one  person I spent the least time with, yet probably wanted to spend the most time with? Someone I, might as well say it, really aspire to be. High energy, an RA (which I failed to be), a classic rocker, a patriot, neither church nor club but both. When I say I connected with the various people on this trip, they really don't compare to how much I can relate to Ash. We talked about our frustration... with pretty much all the aforementioned things; I guess the difference being Ash is more high energy and has well, a pillar of support so to speak. Most people I know, have stuck to their core, and are living contented. Yet I know my weakness is like Pierre in War and Peace, in a manner of speaking. I cannot settle on something, because I don't like to rule out possibilities, I fetish-ize the road less traveled, I make it a point to leave when I'm comfortable, especially here in college. And as a result, I'm absolutely lost in the wilderness while my friends have moved further.  I hoped to find the fellow loners, but that obviously makes very little sense.

Ok, I transgressed there into things I wanted to talk about that have less to do with Ash. She brought me to yet another Korean place (having eaten Korean at Brown) which was awesome, and we got straight to catching up with as much fervor as the past few days, if not more. I told her the lack of sleep would probably affect me but honestly, meeting and talking with her was enough caffeine. We somehow hit all the right notes and rarely disagreed (which is good and bad), even discovering our somehow aligning quirks like our unabashed love for good ol' millennium rock or even the fact that we were sometimes confused my Melissa. Ash is the kind of person I am on my best days. So what's the secret? Brute force of will? Aspirations engender expectations. Marcus is right in saying that mediocrity is not a sin, yet how can I ever settle on that crowd mentality?

Singaporeans punch above their own weight. Majulah.


Well Boston was the furthest East I traveled, so I guess Eastest counts?

Friday, 15 April 2016

West to Easter: Easter

Mass and Marijuana, Pot and Prayers; they're all religious
So technically it was Good Friday. But then technically this post is three weeks late. I remember the lack of sleep, I remember Brandon being the same as he's always been. The truth is there is a Brandon in all of us, and so we affectionately laugh over his quirks that are really us deep inside. Let's just say he's an anxious dude. Barely 200 meters from the station was all it took for our conversation to shift towards activism on campus, specifically with regard to African-American activism. Damn it's good to be around old friends.

Not that we talked very long about it. Brandon showed me around diligently but also with very little sense about his campus (self-admittedly too) and invited me to Good Friday words, testimonies, hymns, the like. I have this feeling Steph, Brandon and Nick think I'm still Christian, or maybe not, and they were just being nice chaps inviting me to all the Christian proceedings. I find myself lucky that I can consider them, and my non-christian friends good friends and that I hang out with both groups. It was not lost on me how contrasting my stay with Conor and this group of christian friends were (and this was to turn 180 again when I finally met up with Marcus); and it was... well I was going to say amusing but that's pretty snobbish. I guess I just find it rewarding, and wish people would develop relationships like that. It was also not lost on me how I'm able to connect with this group of christian friends more than say, my 'party' friends. There's a few of us, but the number is growing - the people in the middle again. Yams, Kwang Ik, Marcus, Yan Zhou...the thoughtful agnostics and atheists. But that's too tribal and exclusive. And although this blog is an outlet, I have to honor and acknowledge that everyone lies on a spectrum and my comfort range of friends just revolves around a certain group.

I wish I could quote some or even talk in detail about all our conversations, but they lay deep in my subconscious at this point, behind the massive amount of reading I still have to do. I try my best to record. (Just think how difficult, maybe improbable it would be to recall events that happened 100 earlier, all compiled into a book of personal wisdom and stories... just saying.) I met Brandon's friend, who's name already escapes me. I saw Brandon's room, and felt a tinge when he was saying how he tried but couldn't connect with his roommate. "He's in hockey (a jock), you know how it is." That was the kind of thing I was trying my best to avoid... Although I wasn't thinking it at the time, I've always felt, perhaps naively, that you can connect with anyone if we all just tried hard enough. It is devastating to realize there is a point you can't get past. It is worse to realize others can do it much better than you when you really want people to know, this is who you are and you would give a lot for them. Maybe worst, in some sublime melancholic human condition-ish thing, that barrier was just artificial; it was time and space, it was language or culture or pre-conceived judgement that prevented two people with the same souls from reaching each other.

Perhaps I delusion myself and wallow in stupid philosophizing. The world is simple and beautiful with a cup of coffee. I met Nick Chuan, his hair disheveled and his figure and manner and intellect not out of place if he was born in the 18th century or earlier. As with Steph, it was easy to fall into great conversation and easier still were the laughs and stupor.

Marcus Yeo though. Like some intervention, some dramatic plot tool where the protagonist, unexpectedly finds a hermit in the forest or something, Marcus Yeo walks into the Korean restaurant and back into my life. (LOL fuck I'm having too much fun writing stupid drama. It's good to be back laughing at myself.) Marcus Yeo is what made my time at Brown different from Yale. He gave the light-hearted but still deep and personal contrast to Nick and Brandon's sometimes religious overtones. I will remember all those one to one moments, like me and Steph on the campus green, or me and Brandon throughout campus (I never got one with busy Nick), and now with Marcus Yeo, in pseudo-romantic fashion, around the city, on the banks of the river looking at the pale glowing lights. We talked about so many things, about scholarships, being international students (what else right), where Singapore is going (probably my favourite topic at this point), etc.
"Dude, same!"
Was what I might have needed to hear all along. And after the talk, just weed, an atrocious film, and hugs and goodbyes... I still feel the effects of not getting into council. But then, nobody has ever not run in failure.


I am left to wonder if I'm just a feminine and sensitive person who was repressed.


You hate hugs? Don't kid yourself.


What can I pride myself with now?


My parent's only connection with me are asking for my pictures of the trip.


Post is Easter because, it's east of new haven and it was Good Friday -> Easter. Puns are hard, I'm sorry.

Je ne sais pas quoi dire

2 things.

Language; or inability to speak it.

Body type; or lack of muscle.

I promised. So I'll keep it.

Am I going to complain again?

My weakest moments are when, in my head, I'm transported into someone else's, almost like Harry in Voldemort's head, and I see myself. And I feel pity, or weakness. Meaning I imagine the person is pitying me, or judging. And it's a weird and dark cycle because when you feel that, you generally become that in some unconscious desperation. And you kind of just want to scream.

Don't self-deprecate? Maybe I should do stand-up so I'm allowed to.

Maybe I should seek help. From a friend I mean. The trouble with being so independent.

OK. That was really all I needed, perhaps.

So where do I go from here.
If not doing anything wrong means I have to be lonely... ok don't use that word. That's not fair. I cannot threaten.
Too easy, play dirty? Share less, more hugs?

Sometimes I feel frustrated I had to learn this all on my own, but then everyone pretty much has to too. Maybe not as late, and not without an ounce of guidance from my family.

The Americans are too American, and the Singaporeans are too Singaporean.
I need to become a better listener; because when it's you sharing most of the time, you will automatically get the feeling you're the only one with problems.

I'm recalling the time Yi Hui leaned on my shoulder and how that was such a foreign feeling to me. That's pretty sad, but I am better than that, and I've learnt.

Why don't people take me in the arms right, or lean on my shoulder. Well, they did, and it made it even more confusing. This is true.

One of those times when it hurts so much you feel it, physically. How much easier would it have been to grow up bigger and stronger I will never, ever, know.

Was Elza right in saying I need to be with someone that I will have greater power over? Because that's just disgusting imo...

The stuff on my blog are emo because I blog when I am emo, so this isn't a natural disposition! I'm actually fine. Just gotta put stuff out there ya know.

Friday, 8 April 2016

West to Easter: East

New Haven
Eating microwaveable food on the edge of Yale's campus green talking about Singaporeans
Stephanie is one of those friends. How does she do it? Energy and intellect, warmth and open arms. I admit that when I re-contacted my friends on the East Coast, I was pensive of how they would... react to seeing me? As it turns out - exactly how I would have reacted to seeing them. Energy and intellect, warmth and open arms. ENFJs. Like we've not missed a day. I've always considered my time in RJ to be full of wasted chances with people. I was a little moody at times, a prick and loner at other times; inconsistent energy and judgmental. I wonder if it was because I failed to get into both the student's council and choir - I consider those invaluable lessons nonetheless.

But back to Steph Siow. It was so refreshing to be among peers again, I mean Singaporeans who talked about being Singaporean here, even about being Singaporean in Singapore - which is a huge issue by the way - it was just indescribable how much we connected. My ego also shamelessly fed by a re-awoken sense of Singaporean humor that I never truly got with the Singaporeans at Northwestern (which is what I wanted, to be sure). [Steph, and later Ash would comment how I was one of the funniest people they knew] So this is what the comfort zone feels like. The Singaporeans who never left home, yet were open to absorbing America into their bloodstream. Patriots who aren't tribal. The foolish young Singaporeans who think Singapore can be saved from cultural entropy, and that America can teach us something.

I often jokingly/arrogantly rant about how I was part of a special art program but was never 'as eccentric' as the rest, only to realize later I truly am just as crazy and ironic and whatever you can describe us in different ways. The same is true of being Rafflesian.

So Steph had just woken up when I got to her place, and told me to wait about 10 minutes unless I wanted to meet her without her teeth brushed. There is an instant connection in that kind of humour, trust me. Or maybe not, maybe it was just hearing each others' voices, not having changed much, again...

We caught up tremendously; she's attached, like all the other Rafflesians I'd meet on this trip, which I cannot lie made me re-examine my life a little haha; she's now full-blown christian, she's still capable as hell yet humbly curious. She sort of 'used' me to return her books and take her profile picture but I couldn't care less, because that just added to the feeling that there wasn't any fake distance between us. When you're as obsessed about 'adapting' and purposefully pushing for difference as me, you will have one too many identity crisis (and I mean this in the least dramatic way possible; just to stop this post from spiraling down the self-absorbed/pity/emotional post it is headed towards fast). The long and thoughtful and amusing conversations with Steph Siow in this less than urban campus setting known as Yale University brought me back from the be-wilderness that is Northwestern; business, consulting, financing and all. After diving in the pool for so long, discovering and being around the biodiversity, it was like coming out of the pool or the sea and sitting on the ledge of the pool or boat, with your old friend, just talking about the sea and the stars. Fuck that was so dramatic sometimes I wonder if I'm ironic or not.

Importantly, we connected over the typical Singaporeans who just studied and never got out of their comfort zone in the US, about where Singapore was headed, about our schools and cultures and American politics, etc. We diverged in what we were doing with our time mostly. She's on the church side, and I remain stubbornly lost in the center. Will I go for the full 180 next year?


These posts have lost some energy, like all my posts frankly, as the days drag on by in Northwestern.

On the way to New Haven, you have to pass the train station 'West Haven'; so in fact, new haven is... East... Haven.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

West to Easter: Wester

Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
You are what you eat? It all becomes the same building blocks. You are who you meet. In my head, like everyone else's, it's nice to simplify and abstract. I think my friends are but various manifestations of me. There is a side that is tired, hedonistic and would rather retire on an olive farm than deal with the complexities of the city and the masquerade of people. And so there's Conor Jones. Call me naive, but despite not having the deepest or most complex of conversations with Conor, I believe it equally essential to have had that stay with him in New York.

In a gist, lots and lots and lots of Marijuana. Cartoons and beers for sides and video games for desserts. The value was never in pursuit of these 'pleasures' (because I will openly admit I probably don't enjoy them as much as Conor and his brothers do), it was... the view. It is the same with any 'getaway trip'. It gives you a chance to step away from routine and your life, step out of your character even, go backstage or go outside and hear and smell the city, especially, when you do it alone. My days were not spontaneous but still largely unplanned; each day I decided what I'd do and see or which road I'd walk down in the moment, just me and my camera and my new lens. I learnt about Conor and caught a glimpse of his family life, which was so meaningful to me. I wandered around Chinatown NYC, a marvelous place that in it's quaint ways and shamelessly American AND Chinese aspects represented what I love about the US. I stumbled upon the Museum of Chinese in America, enlightening me to a previous era of racism not unlike today's bigoted attitude towards Muslims; things have changed but the similarities can be disheartening.

I had so much time with my camera and my music and guess, myself - I relished every moment of it while I could. It is not true that you have to go to some 'exotic', far-away place. Introspection can happen right here in the big city, where the crowds engulf the individual, and you see yourself clearer for it. I'm so thankful for Conor hosting me, the hospitality of his mother, the drunken chat about photography with his father, the paid-for intelligent conversation with his grandparents and the... relaxed... evening with his brothers. This is what money and liberty buy you.

But I do not say that Conor is simple-minded. I have always sought to understand people like him; the inner-machinations of his mind (are an enigma); that was a spongebob quote, and that was the kind of humor I connected with him on for the entirety of my time. My friends in Singapore, my art friends are like him, or he is like them. And I know for a fact that under the facade of eccentricity is brilliance and melancholy. Cheers to the wonderful imagination and childish complexity.


Wester is a reference to Upper West Side; Upper + West = Wester(?)


This series of posts are starting to remind me of the Five People You Meet in Heaven.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

West to Easter: West

This post I think, realistically, has to be in parts or I'll be really sleep deprived.
Evanston - West
Manhattan - Wester
New Haven - East
Providence - Easter
Boston - Eastest

Not sure if there'll be a Westest yet.


It's a pun. Like, East, Easter, Eastest?


Spring Break is over, and I'll not forget, unlike doing CTECs. A string, a flood, of just wonderful, addictive, invigorating conversations with old and new friends from New York (orkkk concrete jungles where dreams are made offf) to Boston. It is indescribable to me, as I'm sure it is to anyone who has had the pleasure of speaking freely and knowing that your partner in conversation is doing so as well; speaking your mind, so that they may know it, and you may know theirs. To see their face light up in excitement or exasperation, and to know that sharing together is a gift. I re-read what I just wrote and you know, it sounds a little like the open mic I heard last week - I guess it isn't that much different when I express myself in what can only be described as tongues really. Let's get started and hope I don't disappoint.


It takes two hands to eat crappy pasta.
Reminding myself that I nearly did not have this conversation had I chosen to be a bum and order take-out or go off-campus to eat. But I'm a sucker for having one to one conversations. Annddd I guess I have to be honest (embarassingly) that I was looking forward to speaking with Agneska again
(having said we would after Intl Dinner; yes I remember) and always do regardless (I have been actively trying to pick up conversationalist skills because these people are just naturals I swear.) Also, is it just me or do my posts sound a little too... English. (I dislike using the word British; I do not sound remotely Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish) What did it start with again?

Watery pasta. And giving up on keeping a clean diet for gastroenteritis. Open letter to pesto sauce, why did you fail me the one time I vouched for you? In any case, it was probably 'how has the quarter been for you, sort of on a 1-10 scale'. How has it been compared to the last? Busy. My standard answer since week 3. And standard answers are not the most memorable. Argh. The lack of sleep and beers are catching on and I can't remember things. I remember where she sat and looked and eat and her reactions and I guess, the important messages; I'll start on those.

"Leeks, don't give me that fucking nice guys finish last bullshit."
Something about I don't want to be preachy but do it anyway -> also bullshit, you do it all the time.
Expressed my frustration at knowing what the right thing to do, right frame of mind should be, and truly, sincerely seeking to fulfill them, but failing regularly. O right, it started because she correctly pointed out that my blog post was entitled 'kids' and that obviously lays bare (hah! synonym for show) my inner, true(?) prejudices. So what do you have to do to fight against that? I will try harder to change. This is a wake up call.
Wake up call no.2: Not everybody is interested in having an argument all the fucking time Leeks.
Time to actively read people's energy levels and stop complaining about people not following ideals of debate and having good opinions. Really just being annoyingly confrontational. Stop being a devil's advocate all the fucking time too. Putting other people's ideas down is for realists internet trolls.
And of course, perhaps for a true first time (insert footnotes here about not disregarding all the other times, just that this might have been the most etc.), she shared too. I reiterate again how... I guess honored(?) I am when people share. It's just nice to know people trust you? OK not the point and probably not the right word to use. Trust me, I used to be way more of a high horse mfucker who doesn't share his own vulnerabilities and just dishes out advice probably because my frail ego couldn't handle it. Or maybe not, it's been a while and that's in the past I don't know. It was exhilarating to hear her stories.

This part is continued a week after writing the rest. I have had many good thoughts this week and in my obsession of trying to keep them all I've resorted to writing them into my class notes - which is terrible. Perhaps most terrible is I've probably forgotten a lot more I could've written had I not promised a bazillion people and organizations I'd do my part for them. Hold on, a hiccup; I'm not entirely sure how much I'm entitled to divulge about her so I guess I shan't. (Also I promised something.)  I very very very much dislike just being all me all the time but I guess this is my blog... I will leave this to real life conversations. I guess I could've posted a week ago after all.


#83 Invictus

Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not once winced nor cried aloud
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed

Beyond this place of wraith and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade.
Yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid

It matters not how strait the gate
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul


Just want to point out that the names of these posts are rarely arbitrarily chosen.
West is a reference to Plex West.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016


New York, 11.16 am.

I'm in my friend Conor Jone's apartment.
What is it like? Imagine an upper-class apartment in upper-west side Manhattan containing an art collection and rock instruments, a classy kitchen and some empty bottles of beer lying around.
This isn't the purpose of the post. But truthfully there are no dead-set posts I must make (especially not while I'm this hungry right now and Conor is still sleeping so we can't go for lunch).

I reiterate that posting while 'conditions' are not right is always uncomfortable for me, but some discipline in writing is necessary. I've already lost some of the thoughts I had and wanted to make sure I got down. I guess this is a post about the end of a quarter.

New York, 12.28 pm.

OK so the truth is I procrastinated and went to do emails, surfed the web and maybe played some civ :x. Now I'm realllyy hungry so I'll probably post later.

#84 Sunlight
Not looking at the harsh noon sky, but the streams that hit pillars and walls and stream into your windows in the morning and evening... the shadows they project and the dust that drifts around following Brownian motion is just beautiful.

New York, 4.34 pm.

Dramatic effect time stamps. I went for lunch without Conor because... well he just woke up 45 mins ago. His family cat Lily warmed up to me really quickly and has started taking refuge in my room indefinitely. His current throne is all over my clothes; which is to say there is fur all over my clothes. I wanted to write something because a day before leaving Chicago I had  a conversation with Agneska. Shoot I just remembered I didn't do my CTECs. I just remembered they were on my sticky notes before my computer died.

OK. So it is obviously weird to pretend like the people in my life I sometimes write about don't read my blog when they do. So I don't pretend. In fact it's not a big deal to me because I don't mind sharing anything with almost anyone, it's just uncomfortable to see their reactions - be it overly patronizing or just plain not caring. I'm actually a much slower thinker than I look on caffeine; I can speak off the cuff just fine but I always find a better answer later which annoys me. So writing is a better medium to achieve greater clarity. But that's a lie too because I don't proofread my posts that thoroughly. Also, I hate it that in English, you can't start the sentence with 'but'. Let me tell you many an essay of mine have been stuck because I refused to start a sentence with 'however' 500 times since I constantly contradict and challenge my own thinking/writing.

Major digressions tend to indicate a large chunk of thoughts that I'm reluctant to start typing until I know I have time and emotional energy (ew) to type. They're also how Yan Mei and Ying Yue type. With whimsical distractions in rational tones. Alright, Conor's ready to go. And I doubt I'll be sober on the way back.

Friday, 11 March 2016


I am many people at once,
So how can I be any one?

I get these fleeting moments when I just really wished I was on a computer right now to type. And then when I finally get down to it, the moment's sort of lost; the passion becoming some kind of mushy rambling. But I think I have to maintain the tradition. Writing has always been about discipline. One day these two timings might connect again.

We had a fraternity event the other day. I obviously can't speak of it, but suffice to say I proclaimed my current flaw to be 'mood swing'. But I hesitate. How is this a flaw really? How is it a flaw that I can feel and understand a spectrum of emotions? But that too, is probably a lie. I went for an open mic yesterday with Jess, and watched a typical French movie today, and all I could really feel, was anger. Maybe I've been cultivated to just feel anger when I'm meant to feel anything at all. I embraced it early because anger is energy, it is the most active, and I don't want to be a passive agent. Or maybe it's that hyper-masculinity the talk at my fraternity was about - how 'being a man' means stoicism. And I admit I'm hypocritical because I love stoicism and I find getting emotional over many things... weakness. Of course, people tell me otherwise, and in a bid to be civil I guess you could say 'while I haven't changed my mind completely, I do accept the empirical reality that nice people give everybody a chance - so first world problems and the sort are real problems.

Back to mood swings. I know it is a flaw because I look and meet the best people everyday, who summon the energy and courage to be happy every time I see them, and basically not be a sour and cranky person. Which I guess leads me to Dance Marathon.

30 hours of straight dancing, maybe it's the masochist, always wanting to prove myself despite my size that compels me to be at my best in the worst of situations. It is why I seldom complained in the army, it is why I act out when nobody else is doing so, but shy away from leadership or 'being the life of the party' when others have already fulfilled that role. Of course, it's partially so I can say that I am a 'reluctant leader', or at least I think that's how you should be - because if you want the position for the position you shouldn't be in that position.

Dance Marathon was that environment where I could 'thrive'. Where I could be the extrovert, a throwback to wayyyy back in the day when I was the class clown before the days of social media, snap chat, and the sort which I don't use because I believe it sucks my time and I don't want to give in to the culture of gratification - which I do anyway on facebook, so perhaps it was another pointless exercise in trying to be different. Wayyy back when being skinny was fine. I actually just read an article on the worrying sexualization of America; at least 1 person agrees with me then. Choice feminism has always been a difficult topic for me to broach, because while I agree, I still cannot comprehend the superficial nature of showing off your body. Perhaps because I'm at a disadvantage I complain, or because I'm lazy and don't wanna spend money on protein and gym membership.

Ok I digressed about 2 paragraphs there. I initially wanted to post about my dance marathon experience, which was surreal. I was happy. But why? I guess one honest reason is I like to show off that I can persevere with a smile. But there are strong reasons too. One was silly defiance - I stuck to what I believed in when I danced with ISRC instead of Lambda Chi, I believed that when you promised to be part of one team, you don't leave the second you get a bigger invite... or paycheck. Loyalty is a Lambda Chi value after all. Another reason - you ever see those movies where a person is just tired of his usual routines and life, and I guess he just meets new people, a bunch of strangers, maybe in his building that he's never talked to and he realized they are an awesome bunch? Or maybe it's just in my head that I like meeting new people that I don't necessarily interact with often or never will again. I just love the idea that strangers are just friends you haven't met yet.

And it was surreal. It reminds me of a play where the premise is audience members interacting one on one with the cast, trained in asking and probing difficult or personal questions to basically establish intimacy from the get-go. Audience members come out of it saying it was intense but rewarding, enriching. And so there was this feeling like now I've found new friends I wouldn't have had I chosen the usual route, that kind of feeling you get when you decide to go off-track and discover an amazing view, or at least something different. It is powerful to me. And it's a little ironic I'm throwing away that 'magic' by inviting them to lunch so I can get to know them and it wouldn't just be a one-off thing. Which is absolutely the logical thing to do, but not the mysterious and romantic version of it.

Aight. Other things to get off my chest. Derek asked me during a frat party if I wanted to 'get lucky' or 'make-out' with my date during movie night. I was not amused. I obviously caved in and was pressured by it to make unnecessary and uncomfortable moves on Janet, not because I wanted to (though it would be untrue to say I don't find her an awesome person to be with) but because I felt pressured, like it was the norm to try? And it's confusing, some girls are admittedly too shy to take the initiative (and also because of the kind of society we live in) or choose to do so in ways which I am obviously oblivious to. So it's almost like I have to try first, get rejected constantly, and then start posting on my blog about 'unfairness of society' or something. Hopeless romantic  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ which I hope doesn't make me come off as weird because I'm not obsessive, I just don't like to shut people out of starting a relationship because of anything superficial. But I guess it's almost practical to discern that way, which is sad. Je ne croie pas aux grand amour, je croie que aprés longtemps, on peut aimer n'importe qui. In any case, I'm truly sorry to Janet if I made her uncomfortable in any way, it was really just for some drunk fun. And in no way do I think like Derek.

I've never been hugged by my family. No one. Maybe it stems from the testosterone filled environment (including my very domineering mother) of pride and stoicism once again. I have to say I do feel jealous when I see other families that are maybe more physically loving.

Hold up, another annoying thing Derek said to me that night. "You're not drunk enough yet. Drink some more!" Punching him in the face would not have been out of the question. So what, I'm not charismatic when I'm not drunk af? I'm not allowed to drink at my own pace? Harmless fun you say? I'm sorry but you are part of the social problem called peer pressure. Fuck you. I don't wanna say that messed my night up a little, but it might have.

Believe it or not, I used to post coherent arguments and rants about society and politics. But I guess what I lacked from my childhood was never maturity and sensibility, it was social and emotional experience.

Sunday, 17 January 2016


Perennial questions you don't have to ask in the army.

What if you're friends with someone, you kind of like her but rationally it probably isn't going to happen(?) //although the rational reasons are sometimes a little jarring, confirmation bias for your shyness.

I just used slashes to comment because I'm a C++ coder hah.

Ok. Back to that. Sure, you're a rational person. And case in point, you KNOW the romantic movies are just fucking Hollywood. And then you see someone else go for that person; worse, it's also a good friend. //this happens a lot in Hollywood/TV doesn't it!

Let's make the points even more tragic; what if the reasons she might not like you are race or body image? Ooh. Stings. The idealist might protest: if that's her reason for liking someone that's not someone you really want right? But the world doesn't work like that, physical attractiveness plays a part and you've been handed the short hand of the gene pool mon amis.

And so I guess what I'm saying is, in this little time left to blog a little, this sucks. Sometimes you ain't sure if these 18 YOs have it better figured out y'know. Being a foreigner is a big rational stopper too tbh.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Change is the Only Constant

I dropped my bid at the frat so now I'm part of Lambda Chi Alpha!

Course, I wasn't 100% on this. No lies, I'm an honest dude. But then, to quote Hilary Benn, when have there ever been, perfect circumstances? The fact is, change or decay (as Morty says). Learn to live with people you don't necessarily clique with. Better, learn to love them as your brothers and sisters, your fellow human beings for who they are.

Butttt fuckkkk
I totally missed two homework deadlines and the drinking tonight because I am a horrible person.
Nonetheless I carry on, with crippled grades. This winter's going to be harder for sure. But I'll keep my promises, 1 cup of coffee at a time.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Were you rushing or dragging?

I had absolutely zero time to think about this during winter break tbh.

Let's lay it down. Proper. Though I'm late.

Strongest reasons to rush:
The AMERICAN Experience
Cheap(?) housing (this can easily be circumvented tbh; look, progress already)
Friends :'( - basically meeting a whole bunch of people and not rotting in sophomore year
~Sidetrack: Am I really that greedy? I have an awesome group of friends that stay in ISRC...but what will happen in year 2? Even year 3? IF ONLY I was talented; dang for shame man. And Jesus dude you have so many guy friends already.
Pride - admittedly. Wanted to show I'm not a close-minded guy I guess? But I suppose it's for the wrong reasons.

Strongest reasons to stay away:
Do I really subscribe to some archaic notion of gender separation? (I mean, I went to VS?)
~Sidetrack: is it too idealistic to believe the differences between genders are too tenuous, too insignificant to warrant such a division?
The icky icky behaviour exemplified even by my seniors in Lambda Chi - is it being honest with yourself? Or sexist? Of course, there's always physical attraction, should we pretend/deny it? On the other hand... there's just something disgusting about 'checking out chicks'. The 'nature' logical fallacy. If something is natural, does it make it right? Is this one of the cases? Hasn't the era of social prohibition shown to be an utter failure?

And goddam Kaplan papers due so fast.

This decision might have been sealed had their frat house contain a drumset.

#86 Air-drumming and headbanging
Aw yissss. I just love the release from drumming, but I'm going to dedicate this number just to air-drumming, because I obviously do it a lot more and I can do it anytime I want. When I need to hype out, scream on the inside, and generally give menacing glares to anyone I see while getting my fix of angry music.